Ty comes running down the floor.
He sees Deron, and stops in his tracks. They size each other up.
Deron: So, it is down to you, and it is down to me.
Ty walks towards Deron.
Deron, holding a proverbial knife to the proverbial throat of the franchise: If you wish the team dead, by all means, keep moving forward.
Ty, hands up as he slowly approaches: Let me explain...
Deron: There's nothing to explain. You're trying to kidnap what I've rightfully stolen.
Ty: Perhaps...an arrangement can be reached?
Deron, narrowing eyes: There will be no arrangement...and you're. Killing. The. Team!
Ty, stopping his approach: But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.
Deron: I'm afraid so. I can't compete with your management backing, and you're no match for my star status.
Ty: You have that much status?
Deron: Let me put it this way: Ever heard of Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James?
Ty: Really. In that case, I challenge to you a battle of wills.
Deron: For the team?
Ty nods dramatically.
Deron: To your resignation?
Ty nods dramatically again.
Deron: I accept.
Ty: Good. Then dial the phone.
I'm not painting Deron as a villain (someone had to play Vizzini), nor am I getting into Deron's role in Jerry's resignation. Everyone has their own opinion, and this isn't what I'm writing about. Suffice to say that Jerry and Deron clashed often this season, and that Jerry being the coach or his half-century of experience in the league weren't enough to make Deron defer to him. Deron had different ideas on how games should be played and how practices should be run, and rather than talking to Jerry about it, he instead complained to the media that there was no point in talking to Jerry because Jerry wasn't going to change.
Something had to give, because the arrangement was not working. We were heading towards someone accidentally or being forced to ingest iocane powder, and it hasn't been a pretty ride.
"We always liked to let the players know that we fully backed the coach." -- Greg Miller 2/10 (nba.com)
"We won't, however, let players run the show. We will always support our coach." -- Greg Miller 2/23 (ABC)
If you believe that Greg Miller was speaking truthfully, this is half of all you need to know about the team's decision to trade Deron.
In a battle of Deron's will vs. brand new head coach Tyrone Corbin's will, who was going to come out on top? Worse yet, what if the battle of wills continued? When would it end? This season? Next season? And where and with what would we end up? With another coaching change? With an unhappy star? With nothing? The last scenario is the other half of what you need to know. Depending on whether Deron was happy or unhappy, he would say, "This is why I signed the extension" or "This is why I only signed for three years." (Side note: Ironically, when Deron signed for 3 years+option instead of the maximum 5 years in 2008, he cited uncertainty about how long Jerry would keep coaching as one of the reasons he opted to go with the shorter option.)
The Jazz had seen how the Melodrama unfolded this year, and what it had done to the Nuggets. They didn't want to be held hostage blindfolded, hands bound, and with a knife to their throats. Carmelo Anthony hadn't just held the Nuggets hostage; he had held the entire league hostage for the entire season. It was affecting every team in the league (need I remind you of the days leading up to training camp and how AK was almost traded?). We'd kind of already been down that drama-filled road with Boozer's national summer radio tour, rampant trade talk, and general madness the season before.
Deron wasn't publicly saying outright stupid things, but he was at the center of drama all right. If the Jazz wanted to avoid that, the team needed to unequivocally be Ty's team. And speaking of the coaching change: Deron was not only the most unhappy and frustrated he'd ever been as a player (tribjazz)--and it was affecting his play on the court and infecting the entire team--but his legacy in Utah would always be tainted by the possibility/belief that he pushed out a beloved Hall of Fame coach. What were the chances that he would re-sign?
You don't often or ever see/you can't imagine that a team that made it to the conference semi-finals of the Playoffs last year could be rebuilding eight months later, but that is what happened when Jerry Sloan stepped down. It's a new era. We are in a new era.
There was no reason the team should expect Deron to commit long-term to the franchise at this point in time when his contract doesn't expire for over a year, but they also needed to make plans for the future. They were at an impasse. It was time to look forward, make contingency plans, and explore different possibilities.
The Jazz is the Jazz. Their hands are somewhat tied when it comes to rebuilding. When they need to rebuild, they have to do so through draft picks and trades, not free agency. The Jazz could've gone into the season with Sap and AK as the 4 and Fes, Franny and Memo (when he got healthy) at the 5. They didn't. Deron wanted Big Al, so they went out and got Big Al. They went over the luxury tax to do so. Guys were optimistic. Fans were optimistic. Sap and Ronnie P, among others, said during Media Day/training camp that chemistry could be developed by the end of the week or in just a few weeks. Working 6 new guys into the system hasn't resulted in immediate success.
Could it have been a success? Could Deron-to-Big Al have become a power to be reckoned with? Maybe. But it took San Antonio a full year to make Richard Jefferson work, and Jazz losses had killed Jazz patience. To be honest, my patience with Deron('s poutyness and attitude) had shorted out this season too. It was evident that while he was a great point guard and a star player, he wasn't (or wasn't ready to be) a leader.
We had great times. It's going to hurt to see him at the Nets press conference and in a Nets uniform. I wish good things for him. But I do think what's happened, is for the best. And so, we look forward with Ty at the helm of a team of (hopefully) non-power hungry players, high draft picks to rebuild with, and (if I'm not mistaken) tax savings.
Side Note: Kevin O'Connor has taken a lot of the heat over the years for the 2004 draft, in which he drafted Kris Humphries at 14 and Kirk Snyder at 16. He appears to be trying to atone for his sins. Devin Harris was taken at 5 in that draft, and Big Al was taken at 15. (Also, Rafael Araujo was taken at 8 in that draft).
Another side note: By all accounts (and I'm just going off of what I've read online and on Twitter, because I haven't had a chance yet to go through the audio/video yet), Deron didn't want to be traded. Maybe this will be a lesson to all the big names in the league that when they throw tantrums or act up to get what they want, there is a very real possibility that they could end up not getting anything that they want. There are losing teams and billionaires willing to gamble and take risks (which is probably how they got to where they are), and star players could end up on those teams.
Makes you wonder, doesn't it? If Deron hates to lose as much as he says he does and knew there was a possibility that he could be traded to one of the worst teams in the league, would he have tried harder to put his personal issues and annoyances aside and bent to or respected the coach's wishes more?
Last note: This post was supposed to be about the future of the Jazz sans Deron, Jerry, and Phil. It didn't totally follow course as I wrote...