The Downbeat #1094: The LUCAS III: THE LUCASENING Edition

Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Wherein we discuss a bit more about the signing of John Lucas III, the scrubbing of Enes Kanter's Twitter account, how Ty Corbin will be evaluated next season, and more.

So. John Lucas III is A Thing That The Jazz Signed. Our man My_Lo gave you a taste of the SLC Dunk staff's reaction in yesterday's Downbeat, and he's a much funnier person than I am. (For example: There's probably an appropriate banana stand joke here, but I'm too lazy to come up with it.)

Anyway. Lucas III: The Lucasening plays point guard, apparently, but he shouldn't be threatening Trey Burke for minutes any time soon. His career stats (click to embiggen):

Screen_shot_2013-07-16_at_6

He did post a 12.84 PER last season in Toronto, but that was only in 13 minutes per game, so the usual disclaimer about small sample sizes and garbage-time numbers on a bad team probably applies.

I've seen talk from Jazz fans on Twitter that Jamaal Tinsley would have been a better use of the certainly-close-to-veteran-minimum salary that Lucas will be paid. While J-Tins would have been a known quantity with experience in the Jazz offense (and a better passer to boot), Lucas will undoubtedly prove to be a better shooter and floor spacer.

Really, though, their relative strengths and weaknesses are moot points. Like the other moves made so far this offseason, the Lucas signing proves that the Jazz front office aren't much bothered about total wins in 2013-14. Could they have signed a better player as a backup PG, for comparable-to-slightly-more money? Almost certainly. But the Jazz don't want "better players" this year. They want warm bodies who won't get in the way of determining the value of the team's young assets. John Lucas III serves that purpose as well as anyone.

(Note, however, that placing win-loss record lower on the priority list does not equal "tanking." Tanking is losing games on purpose in hopes of getting a better draft pick. I believe the Jazz front office wants the team to win every game they play next year. Indeed, it's impossible to get a true read on player development if the team is not trying to win. Winning and player development are not mutually exclusive. It's just that the latter trumps the former, at least in 2013-14.)

The other half of that point, as many fans and bloggers have already observed with varying degrees of sincerity, is that the Jazz front office is stocking the roster with veterans so terrible that "even Ty Corbin" cannot be seduced into playing them.

This leads to an interesting question: given that the simplest, clearest metric of a coach's success is win-loss record, and also given that Dennis Lindsey has basically announced that he won't be judging the 2013-14 season by win-loss record...whither Ty Corbin, come season's end?

He's on the last year of his contract, so it's in his best interest to get the Jazz to win games, if only to show other NBA teams that he can. But Utah's front office has bigger priorities, and the safest way to keep his job in SLC might be for Ty to take one (or several) for the proverbial and literal team in the loss column this year, if that means the young players develop more. Seems like a Catch-22.

Our esteemed Clarkpojo and traitorous turncoat Salt City Hoops mastermind Andy Larsen discussed this issue on their renowned Clark & Andy podcast over the weekend (starting at about the 29:00 mark):

The conclusion they came to was that Corbin needed to prove that he could teach the Jazz's young players how to play defense at a high level together, and that would serve as a better measuring stick than Utah's win-loss record.

You don't need me to tell you that Corbin has taken a lot of heat from Jazz fans since taking over for Jerry Sloan. You've read much of that heat on this very site. I think a lot of that criticism is fair, based on the evidence at hand. But I also think that we haven't seen the best Corbin can do yet. Personally, I'm optimistic and even a little excited to see what he can teach the young'uns with a clearer roster pecking order.

As some of you know from my other professional and personal endeavors, I'm a big believer in the voice of the community. One of the things that originally attracted me to SLC Dunk and the SB Nation platform years ago (I won't tell you how many because it'll make me feel old) was its emphasis on allowing users to contribute easily and visibly.

These days, the Dunk has sometimes been accused of groupthink, or a lack of diversity in its opinions. Whether that's true or not -- and let me just say here that we try really hard to avoid it -- we can always get better. (Yeah, I said it.)

To that end, I'm going to try to use sections of my Downbeats to feature FanPosts or other reactions from SLC Dunkers beyond the site staff. So if you've got something on your mind, write it up, and feel free to ping me on Twitter with a link.

This week, we have a pair of posts reacting to last week's Golden State trade, from Dunkers bbags and hamfist. A snippet from each:

When you consider the true value of what the Jazz paid for the picks (closer to $15 million than $24 million) along with all of the other benefits to the Jazz from the trade...I think it was a smart trade to make and the Jazz were wise to take the deal now instead of hold out for a better deal that may or may not ever surface.

http://www.slcdunk.com/2013/7/13/4521670/did-the-jazz-overpay-in-the-gsw-trade

So let's all get over the fact that the team used up its vaunted flexibility by bringing in 24 million dollars of bad contracts. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THAT FLEXIBILITY WAS FOR. That number doesn't matter, because those guys don't factor in to being key components of the team anyways. Our real team is on rookie deals, that's why we can spend 24 million on 2 unprotected picks. That isn't a bad thing, no matter what Zach Lowe says.

http://www.slcdunk.com/2013/7/9/4507418/why-the-gs-trade-was-the-best-deal-the-jazz-could-have-made

I commend both posts to you, noble Dunkerians, and encourage you to react and interact on their respective pages.

Oh man, you guys. Enes Kanter's Twitter. I can't remember if we've discussed this in a Downbeat yet, but I'm gonna bring it back up, because it makes me no-happy in my heartplace.

Here's Moni with the deets:

Last summer, Enes Kanter set the NBA world on fire with his tweets inviting brunettes to dinner, winky face tweets calling everyone "baby," pictures of himself with random chicks and animals, etc.

Fast forward one year:

Enes' Twitter has been scrubbed clean like an identity that's been compromised.

His following list, which once ran the gamut from random chicks to male porn stars, has been pared down to three: the Utah Jazz, his brother, and a religious account.

Numerous pics and most of his previous tweets have been deleted, including that one Pilates pic that started the aforementioned NBA fire.

Since the end of May, Enes has only tweeted 11 times, and all of them appear to be religious tweets.

I'm not gonna complain about this too much, because I work with social media professionally and have seen plenty of people (and companies) get into trouble for using it irresponsibly. Kanter's a Jazz employee, and his Twitter use reflects on the team and the organization. Marketing Professional Shums understands the reasoning behind the purge (if indeed the Jazz org is behind it, and not Enes himself, or one of the other factors Moni mentions).

But Fan Shums is sad, and needed to express it. Let's hope it isn't permanent.

With Lucas, the Jazz will have 12 players under contract. The free-agent market is getting thin, and we don't have much money to play with. (And given the deals so far this offseason, the Jazz aren't looking to spend much more of it anyway.)

So this is an open poll: Of any of the free agents still available, or possible additions from the Summer League roster, who would you most like the Jazz to add? Opine in the comments below.

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