Sincere congratulations to Slam Dunk champion Jeremy Evans. No matter what happens the rest of the year, the Jazz will have a trophy to claim and that's pretty fun. Evans is the first Jazz player to win the competition and may have the only trophy that the organization will see in the next few years.
I don't think anyone would call the slam dunk contest a great one, but Evans provided the best dunk of the night and was the best overall perormer. He shouldn't feel bad about winning at all. I don't want to talk too much about the competition itself, but it's obvious that the production and the props and show around the dunk contest are doing the most harm. I am sure that if the contestants were able to just dunk the basketball without any rules or props or help, they would have been able to provide enough excitement themselves.
An underreported portion of the story is this:
"i guess jeremy changed or couldn't do the dunks we talked about."
That is what Matt Harpring, Jeremy Evans' self-proclaimed dunk coach, tweeted out during the competition. I am just surprised that no one made a bigger deal out of the fact that a Jazz player defied his coach and changed the gameplan on the day of a performance. That is unheard of in the Utah Jazz organizaion.
The trade deadline is about 2 and a half weeks away. Now that the All-Star Game is over, it will be interesting to see if the Magic decide to deal Dwight Howard. I think a lot of possible trades are sort of waiting on that deal, whether it happens or not. If you listen to Jazz talk radio, some show hosts have been talking about
"Do the Jazz make a trade or not at the deadline?" I don't think that is the right question. The Jazz are going to make a trade of some sort. I would bet money on that. But really, what type of trade will it be? In my mind there are 4 types of trades and the Jazz are going to perform one of them. Will we be happy with it?
a. Adding onto the team in order to make the playoffs- The Jazz have some assets they could trade: the 2012 Golden State pick, a couple of small expiring contracts in CJ Miles and Josh Howard (Howard can be traded after March 1), two good back up point guards in a league where point guards are at a premium, and 4 young players with loads of potential. The Jazz could trade some combination of these assets for an available, established player, maybe an improvement at the wing. The Jazz could also absorb this player into their $10.8 million trade exception. I wouldn't put it past the Jazz front office, to deal a future asset in order to push for the playoffs this year, although it's unlikely.
b. A cost-cutting trade- Maybe the Jazz realize they aren't going to make the playoffs in some likelihood and they make a trade similar to the Mehmet Okur one. The Jazz can shed about $7 million in salary and still stay above the minimum salary, so maybe they trade Josh Howard or CJ Miles into the Lakers' trade exception for a pick and some saved money. A move like this may make some sense.
c. An Adrian Dantley-type trade- You could also call this a Rickey Green or Ronnie Brewer trade. Will the Jazz move one of their high volume players, like an Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, or Devin Harris to bring back smaller, or future pieces, opening up playing time and touches for their young players?
d. Addressing Needs- Or the Jazz could trade some of their established players (Harris, Jefferson, Howard, Millsap) to bring back some three point shooters or a point guard. This trade might be a lateral move in terms of talent, but might distribute our talent a little more evenly across the roster.
The other thing to consider is that the Jazz have a fairly difficult schedule between now and March 15.. In the 10 games between now and the deadline, 7 are on the road and 2 of those home games are against Miami and Houston. I would consider 5-5 a success the next 10 games. The Jazz are most likely under .500 at the deadline and a few games out of the playoffs. Does that change the type of trade they make?
If I were a betting man, I would guess that one of these two Jazzmen is dealt in the next 3 weeks.
Brian T. Smith. you may have heard of him, of the Salt Lake Tribune, wrote a nice piece about Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward playing together in the rising stars competition at the All Star Game. The story was about their solid performances at the game, but highlighted the teammates' friendship. Favors had this to say about himself and Hayward.
"This year we (Hayward and Favors) kind of clicked together," Favors said. "We hung with each other and just developed chemistry with each other."
I have mentioned it before, but I don't think it can be overstated, how important loyalty and friendships are becoming in the NBA. You have the Heat and the Knicks who were constructed to some degree, whether correctly or not, by friendships and plans to play with "friends." And when Deron Williams and Dwight Howard join up this offseason, you'll be able to add them to the list as well.
It is really important that guys like Hayward and Favors and Burks and Kanter enjoy playing with one another and also that they take ownership of the team together. The Jazz could help them feel an ownership and an importance to this team as well, but that's up for debate as the best way to do that. Benching Hayward in order to start Josh Howard, wouldn't be one of those suggested ways.
Some of the best news of the week:
Awesome. After everything Josh Howard has done for this organization, it is nice to hear him say that he would consider returning after this season. In all seriousness, Howard does say some really nice things about the organization and the fanbase, but I just find the story funny. The Jazz gave Howard another shot at proving himself, and he is generous enough to consider them. CJ Miles is also giving the same consideration.
In honor of the Academy Awards last night, I am going to hand out a few Utah Jazz related acting/movie awards today.
Best Cinematography: Jeremy Evans, for his film work on his first dunk of the Slam Dunk Competition.
Best Director: Jerry Sloan for his miracle performance during the 2003-04 season
Best Fantasy Film: Celtic Pride, a movie about an all star Utah Jazz player who is kidnapped by two Celtic fans to ensure a win for Boston in the championships. The league's best player in Utah and the team in the finals? Wonderful fantasy film.
Best Actress in a supporting role: Louise Scola.
Best Foreign Film: Any of Enes Kanter's interviews.
Best Original Screenplay: Karl Malone for his version of the words that were spoken by Jerry Sloan, Greg Miller, and Kevin O'Connor, the night that Jerry decided to give it up.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Gordon Monson for his version of Karl Malone's version of the previous mentioned situation.
Congratulations to all of the winners and worthy contestants.