Mood Music- Bone Thugs n Harmony: Crossroads
2013 could be the biggest crossroads for Jazz fans in recent memory. All signs point to the 2013 off-season and 2013-14 season itself as being a huge turning point in the franchise. It's a culmination of the major turnover we experience a short 2 years ago when we traded away our franchise player with the hopes that something bigger and better could blossom. Lets examine:
I'm not going to beat the dead horse. We all know what went down. Dwill was traded to Brooklyn, Sloan retired, we ended up with Ludaaaaaacris (Harris), Flavor Faves (Favors), G-time (Hayward), Corner Pimp (Burks), UnderKanter (Ennnnes), and what should have been a 2012 lotto pick if it wasn't for the epic Marc Jackson screw job.
We then saw for the first time in a decade a team without Ak-47; a last minute salary dump of Memo; the addition of Josh "Don't trust me to dribble the ball down the court on a fastbreak" Howard, and Mr. Time (Tinsley.
SO we all stumbled into a shortened season cause by a lockout and hoped with our sincerest hearts that a starting lineup of Harris, Bell, Howard, Millsap, and Al would some how carry us to the promise land all in spite of the world telling us our team was going to finish in last place in our divi
We landed somewhere in the middle. Making the playoffs, losing our draft pick, watching the Warriors steal our draft pick from us, getting swept by the best team in the league during the season (and if you're like me watching in horror as the heat won an NBA title.)
So what does this all mean.
It means that we somewhat decided to skip the coming and start building long term. I think we finally (I pray to God I'm right) that it was going to be our youth. How did we do this?
First: We either got lucky or planned to have some of our bigger contracts come off the books this coming year. Al's ginormous contract, Devin Harris' contract, and also Millsap's all expire in 2013 (also Earl Watson and Raja Bell). That's something like 36 million dollars coming off the books. That's a lot of fun money to have at once. It's also a good amount of money that can be used to build a supporting cast around the core of young guys we've got in Burks, Hayward, Favors, and Kanter.
Second: We started signing guys to either 1 year deals or resigned cheaper players to help us keep that fun money for 2013. We can see this in Foye's contract, Carroll's option, Tinsley's option. Pretty much ensuring we are going to have a large wad of cash with which we can use to entice the guys we want in next year's free agency to come play in homely small marketed Utah (laced with sarcasm).
We decided to cut ties with a few guys and bring in some new/old faces. We re-added Mo Williams to the fold first with our trade exemption we got from dumping Memo's contract to Brooklyn. His one year contract allows to keep that financial flexibility. We then decided Harris wasn't working so we traded him to Atlanta in return for Marvin Williams. A guy who might have a bloated contract but provides us with a legit SF who specializes in defense and rebounding. A guy who could live up to his lotto pick potential with a change of scenery. He's also fairly young.
We also have the whole Raja Bell issue. He doesn't really wanna be here, we don't really want him here. Both sides agreed on buying him out. Issues came up. Everything is in limbo. We'll see what happens with this mess as the offseason/season begins.
Now lets see what we have going forward into the 2012 season.
Looking at the 2012 NBA season
Personally, I'm going into this upcoming with leveled expectations as far as results go. I see us most likely being 3-4 in our division and maybe squeeking into the playoffs as a 7th-8th seed. I think OKC runs away with division, Denver ends up second, leaving Utah and Minnesota competing for 3/4. Not anything really exciting.
What's most important about this season though isn't the playoffs or standings but in minutes. All eyes should be focused on how much playing time Favors gets and whether it's at the 4/5 position. Favors needs minutes, he needs to develop. That's only gonna happen from him playing and the more he plays the better off we will be. Sap or Al needs to come off the bench and Favors starts. It's best for the long term success of the franchise. He is the Keystone.
Hayward, Burks, and Kanter's minutes are next in importance. They also need to grow and develop. Hayward should get plenty of minutes splitting time between SG and SF. It's Burks and Kanter we need to worry about. Is Burks going to getting time at PG? Is he going to lose playing time to Foye at SG? Is Kanter gonna get any rotation time behind Al, Sap, and Favors? Are they starters going forward in the future, rotation players, or scraps? We need to get a much clearer picture by seasons end and hopefully have answers to all these questions.
Lastly, Contract years. Who remains on the team? Do we extend/resign guys like Mo, Sap, and Al? Do they develop into something we need? Do they accept the rolls we can give them? Do we trade them? This is something to keep an eye on. We've already heard that Millsap turned down the extension from the Jazz and will most likely become a free agent. They aren't as important as the young guys but they are key to going forward.
Yucca brought up an interesting idea a few days ago about how all the one year contracts/expiring money could hint at the possibility of going after the two big name free agents in 2013. Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Do you like that idea? I'll let you enjoy that for a moment. ....... ......... Ok, I don't think that's going to happen. Sorry to crush some dreams. That's not a bad thing though. There are plenty of other good players we can chase with all that money we should have. I'll break that down in a moment. I also think a reason for all these one year contracts has surfaced in the last 24 hours. The fact that KOC is giving up the reigns as GM. I see this move and the timing of it to be something like giving a child a bike with training wheels. KOC set the team up for a year but is giving the bike to a new GM who can then later decide what he wants to do with it going forward. Hopefully by next year the new GM can see what we have and gain an idea of what he'd like to do moving forward. He'll have the money and assets to attack the trade deadline in 2012, draft in 2013, and free agency in 2013 with a lot of firepower. I think KOC may have known he was headed this direction and decided to push all his cards in to the 2013 season. It's a dream situation for a new GM to have but it also puts a lot of pressure on him to succeed. That's just my crazy theory on our situation though.
So we have all this money to spend. I'm not really going to get into contracts but here are guys and positions I think are important going forward.
PG: Jrue Holiday (pleaaaaaaaaase), Stephen Curry, Ty Lawson, Brandon Jennings
SG: Not sure we need much help here with Hayward and Burks. Harden would be interesting but cost a lot. Outside of that maybe a 3 point shooter for depth.
SF: Marvin, Hayward, Carroll, Murphy, Evans could hold down the fort. Maybe a 3 point shooter or specialist.
PF: We could resign either Al or Sap. I would prefer Sap. However, I think getting a guy like Josh Smith would be crazy fun. Taj Gibson would be a good guy for depth. We could just keep Favors as a PF.
C: Resign Al, Bynum, Play Favors here. Or Dwight.....
If I had to pick a starting lineup for the 2013 season (minus CP3 and Howard) it would look like this
PG: Jrue Holiday
SF: Marvin Williams
PF: Josh Smith
We have two first round draft picks most likely next season. GSW and Ours.Both of them will probably be in the teens. 12-20 range would be my guess. I'd like for us to draft a PG. Amar drools at the thought of Kabongo in a Jazz uniform. I think we def need to get one regardless of if we sign a or trade for a young PG. We are seriously lacking youth at that position.
Then just go BPA with other pick. Too early to look at guys without knowing our draft range
The 2012 deadline will be important and so will draft time trades. I'm just going to include both of them together here. Do we trade a guy like Sap or Al? Do we package our picks together and move up for someone we really like in the draft? Do we deal a young guy to get someone really good back? Any of these are possibilities.
We could even see a coaching change. Corbin hasn't been extended and we don't even know if he should be extended yet. Many were frustrated with his rotations last year and who he gave minutes to. Will he continue to lean on the Vets like a crutch or finally start trusting the young guys.
So looking at everything laid out before us, the moves we've made both with players (trades, contracts, etc) and in the Front Office, we can see that 2013 is the basket with all our eggs in it. We could keep the status quo and resign guys like Mo, Al, and Sap. We could overhaul the roster with trades and free agency money. We could add more youth through the draft but all the roads are leading to the 6 month period between Feb and September. It should be very exciting. Nerve wracking but exciting.