Jazz Jam Session: December 2011

You may remember when we did this last time we were in the middle of the NBA Lockout. Now things are going at the speed of light. Free agency continues unabated, teams are taking shame all around the league – and the players are sweating in training camp. Jazz fans, bloggers, and tweeps are in the middle of training camp as well. For this session we’re going to use less players as last time, and hopefully make it shorter, and sweeter. Today’s Jam Session features:

Listen to us Jam (er, read us Jamming?) about the lockout, what we missed, and the amnesty clause, after the jump.

Q1. Lockout is over – did you follow the news of it every day, or did you mostly stay away? What feelings did you have about the entire situation?

RxMike12: I definitely kept up on things every day. I saved my Twitter-stalking for nights where there was a ‘deal coming,’ which basically always came to nothing. Of course, the night I don’t stay up... things are resolved! Go anti-jinx. As far as my feelings---I understand why there was a dispute. The frustrating part for me is trying to fathom why it takes 5 months to get serious about getting things taken care of. Summer months of nothing finally leading to massive 15-hour days and last minute deals. C’mon people.
BJCSeven: Unfortunately I have to say that I not only followed the lockout everyday, I followed almost all day, every day. Right now is my slow time at work so there were plenty of times that I found myself with my Twitter feed open just waiting for the latest news from NYC. At the beginning I felt pretty strongly that the players were to blame for the stoppage, but as time went on I realized that I really didn't care who "won" the lockout. I just wanted the damn thing to end so I could get back to having something to do during the winter.
Neildos: I was optimistic and followed the lockout news every day (especially during early negotiations) until the talks broke down around the middle of November. After that, pessimism sank in and I didn’t want to be reminded that the season seemed (and was) legitimately in peril. Someone had to text me that the lockout was over. I am forever ashamed.
The whole situation was a mess, plain and simple. It should have never gotten as far as it did. Decertification should have occurred on July 1st. My loyalties went back and forth but my opinion is that Billy Hunter and David Stern failed everyone. Stern now has two work stoppages on his resume and I just can’t support him at this point. Side note about Stern: the NBA laid off over 100 regular employees in the past 6 months and I recently read that his salary was in the ballpark of $23 million. He couldn’t have taken a minor pay cut to keep some or all of those employees…? Another great reason he should get the boot.
Scrantonicity33: I experienced the entire grief cycle during the lockout. I felt sadness, anger, denial, depression, and then I finally got to a point where I accepted it and was expecting to spend more time with my family (lucky for them, the lockout ended).
I followed the lockout coverage daily, and some days hourly. I looked forward to @KBergCBS ’s tweets. "How u" became part of my daily language (which no one I work with understood). Let’s just say for my sanity I’m happy to be following real NBA news now.
Bluemoon_76: Being an addict of Twitter, I had no choice but to follow it every day. Especially if you follow one @Clintonite33...I even stayed up practically every night when they were in negotiations and was let down every time late in the night. Except for that joyous night when Ken Berger broke the news. I couldn't side with the owners or players. I know that there were internal issues but I could of cared less. I side with the fans. I know its cliché and I’m a businessman but the saying of 'millionaires fighting with billionaires in a down economy' kept ringing in my head. I know the owners had the leverage the whole time and seemed to spin it politically but I still couldn't side with either.
Bittermormon: I tried to keep up with the news via twitter. After a few days it became obvious that I'm not intelligent enough for all those abbreviations. Soon I was just paying attention enough to get my hopes dashed every time they were close to a deal. On the plus side, my hatred of DFish couldn't be stronger if he murdered his family, then of course he'd lie about it.
DianaAllen: Thank goodness the lockout is over! I tried to follow it most days it’s hard not to follow it when you are on twitter every day and checking the downbeat everyday. I think it is a shame that the lockout happened. It was a complicated situation that I don't think we as fans could truly understand. I tried not to take sides knowing that I didn't know all the in's and out's of the situation. I more wanted to judge things as what would be best for our Jazz.

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Q2. During a normal regular off-season and regular season we would have already experienced summer league, free agency, trades, a full training camp, preseason games, and nearly a month of regular season action by now. What have you missed the most, and why?

RxMike12: Free agency for sure! The Jazz are normally not big players in FA, but there’s nothing better than rumors, speculation, and the thought that something cool might happen. Summer league was also interesting last year with the games on NBATV. Preseason is a waste, and I’m of course bummed we missed regular action, but there’s nothing like that time from draft to camp where we dream big and think about CP3 and Dwight Howard coming to town... wait, that’s the Lakers?!? Again with the f&^%ing Lakers? Ugh...
BJCSeven: The month of regular season games. No doubt about it. As much as I love free agency and trades they only are fun to follow because of the impact that it has on the regular season. Summer League and Pre-Season games are something that I could do without every year anyway. I have a hard time caring about summer league games when I know that only 1 or 2 guys on the court will still be a part of my life in October. Pre-Season games depress me. It's so close to the real thing, the arenas, the uniforms, the referees (I'm weird... I know), but it's just not quite there. Does anyone have a favorite pre-season moment? I have a hard time believing that anyone remembers Raja Bell hitting a game winner in the 03-04 preseason the same way we remember Sundiata against Cleveland.
Neildos: I missed the optimism. The off-season is always full of hope. Basement dwelling teams believe they’ll rise to contention. Contenders believe they’ll be fighting for top seeds. That hope is represented across Twitter, forums, and around water coolers, which in turn generates excitement about the NBA in general. Since the end of the Finals it seems like most fans’ moods have been pessimistic (and for good reason).
Now that the lockout is almost certainly over that optimism has returned and the overall aura of even the most casual NBA fan is much improved.
I’ll say this: I’ve never been so excited for the preseason as I am right now. I swear to the basketball gods that I’ll go to every preseason game from now on if they promise never to make us endure another lockout.
Scrantonicity33: As much as I like being a GM in my own mind and thinking/discussing free agency, the thing I have missed most is the 16 actual regular season games that we’ll miss because of the lockout. I just want to watch our young guys play the basketball. This stupid lockout has deprived me of 16 additional games of watching The Precious, Favors, Millsap, Evans, and CJ and has robbed development time for the rookies. It has robbed Corbin and the staff 16 additional games to get more comfortable in their new situations. It has robbed 16 games’ worth of witty and snarky commentary on twitter and the game threads at SLCdunk.com. Stupid lockout.
Bluemoon_76: I usually always enjoy the summer leagues.. I love to see the new rooks play in an elevated pace of competition. The trade talks and speculation are always fun except when its overblown on Twitter. I feel like most Jazz fans are also fans of either BYU or Utah football or the NFL and that’s always taken center stage anyways until January. If football with no NBA, than you would see a lot of restless Jazz fans, including myself.
Bittermormon: There is nothing better than the anticipation of getting ready to watch the first regular season game. You've either convinced yourself that because of their preseason record you'll be division champs... or the preseason is worthless and you'll be division champs.
I try not to get too into free agency or trades around the league. As a Jazz fan it's frustrating most years to watch teams making big moves. That said, Thursday-Friday was pure excitement.
DianaAllen: Can I answer the Rocky Mountain Review? I love the rumors of free agency, it makes July fun. This lockout felt like an endless August, which happens to be in the bottom third in my ratings of the best months of the year. I missed the regular season games the most, it is so fun at the end of October/beginning of November to look forward to the games. This Fall just wasn't the same without them.

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Q3. The Stockton / Malone / Sloan Jazz teams played forever, but I guess you could say that their window of opportunity to actually win a title was around a decade long. The Deron / Boozer / Sloan teams half as long. We’ve seen the rise and fall of lotto teams before, how many more seasons until our current Jazz team can read the window and open it?

RxMike12: I’ll fully admit I’m a Jazz homer. I see things in purple, green, and gold. That being said, I really think our window can be sooner than later. It’s clearly a couple years out, but if Favors, Kanter, Burks, Hayward, and a couple picks can develop, and we can buy a couple pieces (do we have them already?).. it could happen. My major concern: Can we win with a lot of good/great players as opposed to having that one true superstar? And how (barring sheer dumb draft luck) do we get that superstar to come to SLC?
BJCSeven: To be totally honest, I don't think with the way this current team is constructed that we will be able to reach that window. Unless Ty Corbin radically changes the way our offense (I'm on the team, right?) runs, we need a top tier point guard to be able to compete. Over the past few years the PG has become the dominant position on the floor around the league (this past NBA Finals not withstanding). As great as I hope our young bigs turn out to be, I think we need a leader on the floor to help put them in a position to succeed.
Neildos: I suppose this question depends on if we’re talking about when the Jazz will get back into playoff contention or when the Jazz could become title contenders. Not many teams as young as the Jazz make the playoffs. However, the condensed season favors some of the strengths of the Jazz as a young team, and the overall depth at most positions. Based on the lockout-shortened ’99 season, younger teams tend to fare better during a shortened season.
However, I think it would be a reach to declare the Jazz a playoff team this season. Most likely during the 2012-2013 season the Jazz could sneak into the 6-8 seed as their young players develop and the roster shapes up.
Could the Jazz become title contenders soon? This roster is missing what the Stockton/Malone and Williams/Boozer teams had (multiple All-Stars and quality role players) and are necessary in order to be considered a contender. It could take 2-4 more years to get to that point.
Scrantonicity33: This is a very tough question to answer, well done Amar. I believe through both poor ownership and management the Deron/Boozer/Sloan team’s window was prematurely closed. This team right now at least lacks that transcendent player that can lead a team to a championship. That player may actually be on the roster, but I’m convinced the Jazz traded that kind of player. I love a lot of the pieces on the Jazz, but until someone makes "The Leap" or the Jazz get a few more ping pong balls to fall their way, I think they’re at least another year before competing for a playoff spot, and at least another two years away from competing for a championship. There is always hope though. With Hayward’s progress last year, Favors’ immense potential, Millsap being Millsap, Big Al becoming a better defensive player, Kanter being worthy of his draft status, Burks being a mini Brandon Roy, CJ finding consistency, and the picks we have in the future, I think it’s a very exciting time to be a Jazz fan.
Bluemoon_76: I see the Jazz missing the playoffs the next couple of years. New PG, new coach, new rookies. It’s a strange mix right now. Still so many questions as free agency is about to go crazy. Especially with AK, Earl and Ronnie. I bet they only pick up Earl. The Jazz picked up the pace a little at the end of the year but they really did not show us much as they would get behind practically every game in the 1st qtr. I'm not a fan that wants to just simply go off blind faith and expect them to make the playoffs. They need to show me a lot more than what we saw. We don't even know if Paul or Al will be with us at the start of the season. So with everything being in flux, Jazz fans are going to have to be patient and just enjoy the growing pains.
Bittermormon: I think Favors holds the key to the Jazz's success. Last season we learned that you've got these guys long enough to develop them and hope you can get what you can before they're wooed by the bright lights. "YOU go live in Utah"
DianaAllen: I am always optimistic when it comes to how the Jazz will perform, unless they are playing the Thunder on the end of a three games in four nights road trip! I love the mix of young players and talented vets that we have on this squad. I am even more optimistic after listening to Media Day today. I think we can contend or be a high seed playoff team in 4 years and a 5 seed type playoff team in 2 or so years. I think it depends on the vision Greg/KOC have for the team, who we keep, who gets playing time etc. I am worried about who is the leader of this team. Devin said that is a concern, he said he imagined the vets would try to lead but he said he imagined a young player could step up. I don't think Harris said it in those exact words but that’s what I got from him when they asked him about leadership. We need a leader to succeed.

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Q4. Amnesty clause: use it, or lose it? If you want to use it, who do you use it on?

RxMike12: When I first heard about this, I figured Memo would be the one to go, but looking at things... who would we sign? Plus, he seemed to have some of the old Memo back playing overseas, so he’ll have value as someone who can open up the floor, and possibly as a trade chip. Raja Bell is the only other candidate, and if he starts the season like he did last year, I might amnesty him during Quick Change at a Jazz halftime show in mid-January. The only crazy scenario I see is when we amnesty Al to sign DWill. Yep, my Kool-Aid cup runneth over.
BJCSeven: I have a hard time seeing the Jazz use the amnesty. I think it would be a tough pill to swallow for the Miller Family to have to pay someone $4m-$10m and not get anything in return. If it meant getting under the luxury tax then I think we would be waving bye-bye to Raja or Memo, but with the way the roster stands now I think it makes more sense to hang on to the amnesty clause for now and see what happens before the 2012-2013 season and the free agency class that will accompany it. (Random side note: Most of the Jazz fans that I follow on Twitter, or read on SLCDunk want to use the clause on Raja. I think this would be a terrible decision. Let's be honest, the Jazz are not going to be winning the championship this year. Why not keep Raja around as a veteran in the locker room that can help teach Hayward and Burks some toughness? He could be more valuable off the court than on, and saving $6.6m (pro-rated) over the next 2 years isn't going to be the difference that lands us a marquee player.)
Neildos: Amnesty does not need to be used immediately so the fairly friendly cap situation of the Jazz does not create urgency. 3 possible options:
  • Okur: Owed $11M (expiring contract)
  • Bell: $7M through next season
  • Jefferson: $29M through next season
Okur is probably the most likely amnesty option. Although, the Jazz might be able to get some value by trading Okur if they decide he’s not in the organization’s long-term plans. At most the Jazz could expect a draft pick in return for Memo’s surgically reconstructed Achilles and bad back.
While Bell underwhelmed during 2010-2011 it’s reasonable to believe he has the potential to bounce back. How much of an improvement is up in the air as Bell is on the wrong side of 30. However, his salary is hardly breaking the bank.
Minnesota gave Jefferson away to the Jazz for a couple of mediocre draft picks and a KFC Double Down. If the Jazz decide Al is not their franchise center they could possibly get close to the same in return in a trade so I can’t see using the amnesty clause on Big Al. The most likely scenario is the Jazz either wait to use amnesty or not at all.
Scrantonicity33: For this year, I want the Jazz to just stand still and not amnesty anybody. The amnesty candidates for me are Memo, Raja, and Big Al.
Using amnesty on Memo does not make sense to me. They’d get salary cap relief this year, but are under the tax anyway and I don’t see them using any extra cap space to sign an impact free agent this year. Plus, Memo got hurt playing hurt for the Jazz. Cutting him after that just feels wrong.
Using amnesty on Raja makes the most basketball sense to me if he is going to be taking away minutes from CJ/Burks/Hayward. Raja showed he doesn’t have much left in the tank last year, but if Corbin is willing to give him less minutes I think he could be a valuable presence in the locker room.
When I first heard talk of the amnesty provision, I immediately thought of Big Al. I have since backed away a little on that feeling at least for now. If he doesn’t show progress defensively this year or if Favors shows he’s able to defend 5’s, I think Al becomes somewhat expendable. Waiving him would put the Jazz significantly under the cap in the future and give them the ability to make a run at an impact free agent either this year or next. I’d prefer the Jazz to give it one more season to see how Al fits in with our other players, but I have to think he could be a strong candidate in the future if the Jazz decide to not waive Raja or Memo this year.
Bluemoon_76: 4. Every NBA team has the option to use the amnesty clause every 4 years. Now that AK's astronomical contract is up, I don’t see the Jazz wanting to get anyone off the books and probably won't use it during this first 4 year period. I, like most other Jazz fans would use it for Raja. His +/- last year was atrocious. Personally, I don't see the Jazz using it.
Bittermormon: I'm not sure how the amnesty clause helps a team like the Jazz. They seem like they try to avoid the high price signings. That said, as much as I love AK, I think they would have used it on him a few years back had it existed. I don't see anyone to use it on currently, but I'm kind of an idiot with regards to this stuff.
DianaAllen: Lose it. I think Raja Bell would be the easiest most logical choice to use it with him. I however think it’s not a dire need for the Jazz and you don't want to create awkward feelings among teammates of players not being valued or wanted on the team.

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Q5. Who won the lockout?

RxMike12: As far as players vs. owners, I think this was a battle that the owners couldn’t afford to lose. They were giving up so much in the old CBA that getting some of that back wasn’t an option, it was a necessity. That being said, I can’t say the players really ‘lost’ in the situation. Yes, contracts might not be as luxurious as before, but none are being rolled back, player movement is still very doable, and with the contract rumors floating around right now... cash is still king. The NBA will be fine because Joe Averagefan doesn’t care about things until football is over anyway. The big losers are the working-class people and businesses in NBA cities who have lost revenue due to not having games.
BJCSeven: I think the best quote that I have heard regarding the lockout is that neither side is happy, which means it must be a good deal. If the deal means that the Jazz will have a better chance to be competitive in the years to come than we, as Jazz fans, win the lockout. If the deal means that the NBA is going to feel bad and offer us League Pass for free, or at a heavy discount, than we, as NBA fans, win the lockout. If the lockout means that we, as a human race, got videos like this from World Metta Peace... than we all win.

Neildos: The fans certainly didn’t win the lockout. Ultimately, we, as fans, want basketball. Financials, mid-level exceptions, bird rights, and BRI don’t affect us. All of us learned more about these details than I’m sure we ever wanted to know. I suppose the owners won…but the questions now are how will the league recover? If it never does or takes a long time then it might turn out that no one did.
Scrantonicity33: The fans and general logic prevailed. While the lockout was going on I was pro-player, but I’m just happy to have basketball back. It would have been a disaster to have missed an entire season because the two sides couldn’t decide how to split 4 billion of fan/sponsor revenue.
A side note, I live in Houston, work downtown, and park in the Rockets’ building. I’m looking forward to the season starting so I do something Jazz related to the building/garage. Any ideas?
Bluemoon_76: I won the lockout! I get my Jazz for the winter!
Bittermormon: The terrorists. Seriously, no side won. The owners are holding on to more of their money, but CP3 proved that it's the players’ league and they hold all the cards.
edit: The owners won the lockout. I appreciate the valuable entertainment experience I get from their worthwhile investments. This edit was made for basketball reasons
DianaAllen: No one won the lockout. The players didn't get what they wanted, the owners didn't get what they wanted and the fans definitely didn't get what they wanted. It was dumb. I imagine we might see the changes in a few years but I doubt they'll make a difference for the competitive balance in the league.
That’s all I wanted from the lockout to feel like my Jazz with smart management would have a chance to compete for a Championship. I don't think it happened.

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Thanks a lot everyone!

Now, I don’t want to make this overly long, but I think there’s pretty much consensus on a number of the topics our round table group went into detail about. At the end of the day we, the fans, didn’t have our say. We weren’t looked after. But we, again the fans, are for the most part happy to have the NBA back. Seriously. What alternatives were there? Develop and nurture lasting interpersonal relationships with family, friends, and co-workers? Sheesh . . .

Please add your thoughts to this in the comments below!

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