First let's take just a minute to bask in the glory that was the Toronto victory on Friday night. It was a really fun game, a balanced team effort, and it led to the Jazz's largest win since January 23th, 2010 when the Jazz beat the then New Jersey Nets by 33 at home.
The reaction of some Jazz fans would be to decide that this huge win was in spite of Al Jefferson. It's easy to say that and very tempting, but the same logic should apply to Derrick Favors, right? The Jazz won in spite of him and must not need him moving forward? As most Jazz fans have already realized, it is really impossible to learn any huge thing about your team from one loss or one huge victory and the Jazz front office certainly isn't jumping to any conclusions after that game.
To further drive the point home, look at some of the wins that happened this year after a team lost a key player:
The Knicks beat the Miami Heat by 20 points in Miami in Carmelo Anthony's first absence.
The Cavaliers beat the 76ers at home by 11 points their first game without Kyrie Irving. It's also the only game the Cavs have won in an 11 game period.
The New Orleans Hornets went to Chicago and beat the Bulls by 7 points their first full game without Anthony Davis. They then went on to lose 8 of the next 9 games.
And Friday night's game really reminded me of a home game against the Lakers back in November of 2007 when the Jazz ran the Lakers out of the building by 24 points without Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur. The Jazz played Jarron Collins and a rookie Kyrylo Fesenko 45 combined minutes at the center and won going away. It happens.
I could make you a detailed list of reasons why I think the Jazz would be better off without Al Jefferson, but Friday night's game, or really any of the 5 wins without Al Jefferson, would not be on that list. Teams seem to band together to win games, especially at home, when one of their main guys goes down.
Secondly, we also have the victory against the Lakers in LA to discuss. It never gets old to beat the Lakers and it never will. This game can really be recapped by two tweets:
A couple of weeks ago, I was going to ask you all the question, "what TV show does this Jazz team remind you of?" It's a silly question, so I didn't ask it. But I think I have decided which TV show this team is: LOST. If you have never seen the show, that's okay. I would suggest you just leave it alone. But it's about a group of stranded flight passengers who are stuck on this mysterious island and they are trying to figure out how to get back home and it deals with time travel and what not.
Long story short (TOO LATE!), there was a period where it really seemed like the characters were going to be stuck in purgatory, forced to relive parts of their life over and over until they got it right. So they were stuck in limbo. I think that is sort of where we are as a team. We aren't really moving forward or backward. In a lot of ways, we are exactly as good this year as we were last year, just with a few different characters added to the mix. A couple of questions we had last season haven't really been answered and may be even more confusing now. It is difficult at times to root for a team like that, but in 2 or 3 years, I don't think we will look back on this season (or the last for that matter) and think it was a huge problem. Things will probably work out.
I just hope that this season doesn't end like LOST ended, with the fans saying, "what was the point of all of that?"
One of the reasons I am feeling more content about the team right now, is because of General Manager Dennis Lindsey. I believe in Dennis Lindsey. One of the things I love about him is his honesty and straightforwardness. He answers every question sincerely while also not giving away strategic information about the organization's plans. He's a breath of fresh air. He loves Utah and loves the Utah Jazz. He will be a main guy, if not THE main guy making decisions this summer. And if I can be honest with you, which I always am, this next summer is more important to the championship aspirations of the Jazz than this current season.
Dennis Lindsey was a guest on Spencer Checkett and Gordon Monson's big show this last Friday and if you currently find yourself discouraged about the direction of the team right now, I would encourage you to listen to this interview. It will make you feel a lot better. Here are some of my favorite parts:
Spence Checketts: "By the way, how are you liking the city?
Dennis Lindsey: "We love it. We love it. We fell in love with the people and i don't think I'll ever get used to the views."
Gordon Monson: "What do you make of the idea, the notion (of needing to trade either Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson)?"
Dennis Lindsey: "...I would turn the question back to you guys. Let's trade one of these guys (Millsap or Jefferson) hypothetically. What would you guys have to do? You'd have to go to the owner and say 'we probably just reduced our chances to make the playoffs'...All four players (Jefferson, Millsap, Favors and Kanter) really like each other. Al and Paul have been mentors...so we have the capability to keep one or both of the veteran big men, so I don't think the die is cast. Philosophically, what do you want to talk about? ...we have four big guys who are very gifted and Ty has effectively managed that over a season and a quarter now and the chemistry is good. It's not like they're banging heads and demanding more, so the group has been really unselfish, the team is still finding itself, but to reduce a strength, we would want an awful lot for that, so I don't think it's a certainty at all."
Dennis Lindsey on having to be patient with Gordon Hayward's development: "Sometimes I just want to take a nap and wake up 3 years from now."
Just listen to the entire interview if you haven't. And if you have, listen to it again.
Dennis Lindsey has it exactly right regarding a trade of one of the big men. They aren't going to make a trade just to make a trade. Letting either Millsap or Al or both walk, may be more worthwhile than taking back the players they are being offered in trades. And if the team does trade one of them, they are lessening their chance of making the playoffs. However, a trade is certainly a possibility, but not a certainty. Lindsey also acknowledged that after this season the team would have to choose between either Millsap or Jefferson, which is a reality that hadn't been acknowledged yet by anyone in the organization.
And yet, fake general managing is super fun and I like to do crazy things with the NBA trade machine. Here's one for fun that's a 4 teamer, took me 30 seconds to put together and has absolutely no chance of happening:
Expect a lot more discussion of possible trades to come this week. Also keep an eye on the fanposts for many more trade ideas.