Losing to the Bulls on Saturday night was a little bit like turning on the TV and seeing (insert your celebrity crush here) doing an interview on Entertainment Tonight. You dated this celebrity in high school when he/she was gangly and had braces. He/she was in love with you and you really enjoyed dating him/her. They were cute and fun and you had no complaints, but you just were never sure if they would grow into their body or mature into a beautiful (wo)man. You made up an excuse and broke things off with them and they were devastated. Now, not only are you kicking yourself for breaking up with this celebrity before they blossomed, but in the interview, they are now talking about you as their ex and revealing all of your faults to everyone watching. They talk about how you had a temper, and really bad breath and were super cheap and only took them out to fast food restaurants and forgot important dates. There this celebrity is, looking super attractive and pointing out every one of your flaws. And you could have still been with this person. That's a real-life application with no exaggeration of how that game felt.
[Ed note: this was a picture of Jessica Alba]
I'm sorry Jessica. I didn't know you would lose the braces and glasses.
There is certainly no shame in losing to arguably the best team in the league on the road, but you couldn't help but wonder what could have been while watching the Bulls. Last season's Jazz team could've been similar to this year's Bulls team in makeup. Deron (star pg), Wesley Matthews (defensive wing who shoots 3s), Kirilenko (defensive wing who shouldn't shoot 3s), Boozer (rebounder, pick n roll/pop threat) and Fesenko (foreign guy who does little else but make the opposing team's offense difficult to run) with Kyle Korver, Gordon Hayward and Paul Millsap off the bench.
Let's play a little choose your own adventure and see what could have been with this team. I think it will be fun. So many variables, so much imagination. Just like the choose your own adventure books from all of our childhoods. So say you are the Jazz and you want to bring back the whole crew for one last ride. You sign Carlos Boozer to 5 years, $75 million. (If you would like to choose this path, please jump to 2B to continue your adventure).
Or...The Jazz receive a trade exception for Carlos Boozer when he is signed and traded to the Bulls. They decide that they need shooters, so they match Portland's offer to Wesley Matthews and resign Kyle Korver and Kyrylo Fesenko. (If you would like to choose this path, please jump to 3B to continue your adventure).
[Ed Note. Removed a picture of Raja Bell during the Lockout going into a meeting]
As the cowhide globe turns. No doubt you have heard about the beef between Coach Corbin and Raja Bell. Sltrib's Brian T. Smith has now reported that there was a confrontation between Bell and Corbin and have had a "on-off relationship." Smith also reports that Bell will be having a sitdown meeting with Coach Corbin and Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor sometime today, before the game against the Pistons. We can all speculate, and many have, exactly what this means for the Jazz and Raja moving forward. Obviously, Bell and Corbin have a disagreement about something, but I'm not going to speculate about what. What I will say, is that I predict that Raja will play and start tonight against the Pistons. Even if the Jazz and Raja decide to part ways today, it is in the team's best interest to proceed business as usual, and attempt to find a trade for Bell, before a buyout becomes an option.
And while I acknowledge that Bell would be hard to trade, you can't tell me that the LA Clippers couldn't use him right about now. I'm sure we will all learn more later today.
B. So you've purchased a Carlos Boozer. Congratulations, Utah. You are really going for it this year, so you also resign Kyle Korver to 3 years and $15 million. Unfortunately, Portland pulls their stunt at the exact wrong time and they successfully pry Wesley Matthews away from the team. You resign Kyrylo Fesenko and Earl Watson. You have a great team, but you also cost about $78 million. The Jazz simply can't pay that much for a team, even though the Jazz lead their division and are the 2nd best team in the West at the trade deadline. The Jazz have to cut payroll by giving Paul Millsap away to the Pacers for Tyler Hansbrough. Now the Jazz finish 3rd in the West and draw Denver in the first round of the playoffs. They win in 5 games, but then lose to the Lakers in round 2, business as usual.
Andrei Kirilenko's contract comes off the books, but the loss to the Lakers is frustrating and Deron Williams vocalizes his displeasure at the Jazz's inability to keep guys like Millsap and Matthews. The Jazz trade Deron Williams in the offseason to the LA Clippers for Eric Bledsoe, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and a pick.
And the Jazz are stilll on the books for 4 more years and $64 million for Carlos Boozer. And we are a fringe playoff team.
Bill Simmons wrote his yearly trade value piece this last week where he ranks NBA players in terms of their ability and contract and ultimately trade value. Here is what he had to say about Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors.
44. Ty Lawson
43. Paul Millsap
Everyone pounded the "Lawson is underrated!!!!" angle so violently that he became slightly overrated for someone who gives a fringe playoff team a 16-7 with 47/32/81 shooting splits and a couple of look-how-freaking-fast-he-is highlights per game. Just don't expect Millsap to give up that "So Underrated He's Slightly Overrated" belt anytime soon — not when he's averaging a 15-9 every game, making big shots for an overachieving team, and wielding a favorable contract ($16.4 million total through next season) and even more favorable PER ranking (this year: 16th overall). He's called "The Underrated Paul Millsap" pretty much as a rule at this point. All of this worries me — once you become overrated for being underrated, bad things ensue. Just ask Ben Wallace (overpaid by Chicago, never the same) and David West (blew out his knee). Tread carefully, Paul Millsap.
47. Derrick Favors
46. Evan Turner
Let's see … Philly needs to get bigger … Utah needs to get better on the perimeter … both teams have talented no. 2 overall picks who aren't playing enough … both teams are a little too attached to those guys … the Trade Machine approves … (can't we just call this one in????)
Let's forget about the fact that Bill SImmons thought that both Turner and Favors are #2 picks, who didn't come from the same draft. Maybe he has a point. When I think of trading Favors for Turner, I get repulsed. I don't want to do it. But maybe we just overvalue Favors because he's ours. If Turner and Favors were switched, would I want to trade Turner for Favors?
B The Jazz run a starting lineup of D will, Matthews, Kirilenko, Millsap and Fesenko, with CJ and Kyle, Earl Watson and Hayward off the bench. They are a little thin at center so they sign Francisco Elson and Kwame Brown for about $3 million total. They are over the cap, but under the luxury tax by a couple million dollars. They are super fun to watch and Kirilenko gets to play backup power forward. But they still have a trade exception and they have a decision to make. Gerald Wallace becomes available for a lottery protected pick. (If you wish to continue with the Jazz acquiring Gerald Wallace, please continue onto 4B now. If you wish for the Jazz to pass on acquiring Gerald Wallace and proceed as constituted, continue to 4C).
Via Basketball John, here is a funny video of some Jazz fans in Philly who are big enough fans to go see the team off the bus, but not big enough fans to know who more than 5 of the players are. Don't be that fan.
4B. The Jazz don't have enough money to simply add Gerald Wallace and take a huge luxury tax hit, so they trade Charlotte CJ's small contract, Kosta Koufos and the two first round picks that would have gone to the Al Jefferson trade that didn't happen in this Jazz universe. The Jazz have a deep and versatile team with Wallace and finish with the 4th best record in the West. Unfortunately that pairs the Jazz up with the up and coming Oklahoma City Thunder, who upset the Jazz in 7 games in the first round. Deron gets traded in the offseason and the Jazz become the Portland Trailblazers.
4C. The Jazz pass on acquiring Wallace and have one more opportunity to make a trade. The Clippers really want to dump Baron Davis' contract and since the Jazz have saved money by not using their exception, they are in position to trade Mehmet Okur's contract for Davis. (if you would like the Jazz to trade for Baron Davis jump to 5B to see what happens; otherwise continue reading to see what happens if they don't trade for Davis). The Jazz pass on using their exception. They are the 6th best team in the West and the Jazz proactively trade Deron Williams to New Jersey for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and the picks. The Jazz would have the same team as they have now, minus Al Jefferson.
Tonight's game will be the first time this season that Jazz fans will get to see Piston's rookie Brandon Knight. Knight is significant because he was highly coveted among Jazz fans. It's unofficial, but I would guess that if you polled every Jazz fan, the majority would say they wanted the Jazz to draft Knight. Looking back, who would you have the Jazz draft?
[Ed Note: Removed a picture of the 2011 NBA Draft]
5B. The Jazz trade Okur for Baron Davis and the Clippers' unprotected first round pick. They hover around the 6th seed, until the Jazz proactively trade Deron Williams to New Jersey for the same deal. The Jazz miss the playoffs and the Clippers' pick becomes the #1 overall pick, as we all know and the Jazz are able to nab, Kyrie Irving, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks in the draft. These picks fit perfectly with Matthews, Korver, and Millsap, who are all willing to come off the bench and the Jazz buy Baron Davis out. The Jazz have now quickly built one of the youngest and most talented teams of all time and win the first of many championships just 4 years later. The End.