USA TODAY Sports
We love the Utah Jazz. Some of us do because there are strong ties to the location and region. Others do because of love of the team. Some are crazy about consistent success, and other fans are crazy about a desire for a 'moon shot' approach that should get us close to a title. No matter what type of Jazz fan you are, for the most part, we're all on the same team.
The ownership is dedicated to Utah, and thankfully we don't have to be worried about anything the Sacramento Kings (or previously, the Seattle Supersonics) fans are dealing with. The General Manger and rest of the front office aren't looking to get a better job with another team anytime soon. And for the most part, the entire coaching, training, development, and health staff are all dedicated to this team today. It's a solid base.
But the thing that hasn't cropped up this year, the thing that we shouldn't pretend isn't there, is that we need to worry about this team still. Why? Because there's a lot of uncertainty with who we are as a team, what our character is, and who will even be the standard bearers for our franchise in the future. We have a lot of cap space, and some of our players are having great years in the last year of their contracts. Who are the voices of reason in the locker room today may not even be on the team in training camp next year.
Head coach Tyrone Corbin has done a stellar job of massaging the egos and cares of the "veterans" (including DeMarre Carroll who is very, very green in terms of NBA experience), especially if they go to their agents first. That's awesome, we're putting harmony of the present ahead of anything else. It's a good vision -- let's try for the playoffs, and see how good we can be. That said, it could be building our playoff house upon a foundation of sand. I think that it is obvious that several of our younger players are not completely as happy with their playing time. They haven't come outright with it, or caused a fuss -- but as impatient youth is wont to do, they have done all the non-verbal things and some of the social media things as well. (It's not a new thing either, where do you think @FreeMoAlmond came from?)
I don't think we can risk pissing off our future for the chance to get whooped by the San Antonio Spurs again. If we're making the playoffs it should be because we have a legit right to be there -- and not be a happy NIT team that jumps up and down because they get the right to play Duke in the Round of 64. (Which is effectively what we did by beat the Phoenix Suns last season) I think it is fair to find error in some of what Corbin has done, but he's also done some good things. But more than anything, I really contend that making our younger guys want to stick around should be a bigger focus for our organization.
Then again, they aren't actively helping Derrick Favors stay out of foul trouble (Moni should have the link), nor were they making sure Alec Burks was shooting with Jeff Hornacek outside of practice (really guys?). I can imagine that they are still running the Jazz like the old Jerry Sloan Jazz in at least one way: we expect you to be an adult professional when you get here. That's the sad thing, these guys are so young now the actual level of basketball *and* life experience these kids who are getting into the league have now are more akin to NCAA players.
Which is why that 30 for 30 documentary about the Fab 5 means a lot to me -- things were bad for them early, and it was their bond and brotherhood that made it work. Are our younger guys, led by Gordon Hayward, Favors, and Enes Kanter going to want to stick together? Stick with the Jazz? Deal with the "lack of respect" (and please, this isn't the 80s now, or even the 90s, the kids of today in the 2010s are raised on being told they are great, and if we piss them off they WILL either make headaches for us, or bolt at first chance)? How many times can a team bring in a Raja Bell, or Josh Howard to make sure you don't get the playing time the rest of your draft class gets? How many more times do they want to get passed over for recognition from the NBA head offices? (Seriously, only Hayward was selected to the rookie game, Favors was an injury replacement, and none of our 2011 guys made it.)
I think the fans are high on our team, despite our challenges. Are our players, vets and youth alike, married to the idea of remaining Utah Jazz players? Mo Williams said he wants to retire here. No other playoff hopeful team in the league is dumb enough to make Al Jefferson their primary option. Paul Millsap would want to go somewhere that has job security in mind after he paid all his dues being a bench guy for too long. Randy Foye needs to cash in to his last big contract of his career. DeMarre Carroll will want everything he can get, money, years, role, minutes, and so on. Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson will take any offer, I think.
So that's two guys who may want to be here. And honestly, Millsap would want to be here, but he'll be looking over his back for that entire contract; which isn't fair to him.
As a result, we're back to the young guys who we worked so hard to get in the first place (seriously, it took effort and persistence to collect this talent that we have now, and hats off to KOC for that). Our vision for our team doesn't extend past the next 22 games -- while maybe it should have been much farther in the first place?
I wonder how our younger guys feel? We're high on them. But are they high on the Jazz? Please write down your thoughts in the comment section so I can make a chart. For each of the younger players write down either A, B, C, or D next to their name. A = absolutely wants to stay. D = absolutely wants to leave. The other two are in the middle, but approaching either extreme.