Downbeat #1299: Dominique Dis Redux Edition

Close friends, but never Utah Jazz teammates.

Where we mention in passing the Jazz's loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Zach Lowe's Q&A with Gordon Hawyard and Jazz's potential draft selection pulling a Dominique.

Jazz Lose to Mavs. Mylo and Amar have your full recaps. It was mostly a close game. Dirk could not be stopped. Marv-V-P continues his terrible play since the trade deadline. Steve Brown was noticeably missing on the Jazz broadcast. Matt Harpring seemed to have forgotten that Favors and Kanter have played well together for the bulk of the prior two seasons. Coach Tyrone Corbin forgot to play Derrick Favors in the 2nd quarter and Gordon Hayward down the stretch (until the game was out of hand). Jazz left the night with 100 moral victories.

Hayward discloses all Corbin's strategies to his nemesis Zach Lowe. Yesterday Grantland posted a fantastic Q&A between Zach Lowe and Gordon Hayward. Instead of posting the whole thing or bulk quotes please just read it all and then come back and finish the downbeat...okay done?

Some of the highlights (and lowlights) for me are as follows:

  • Hayward thinks the current defensive scheme puts the wing defender (himself) in a bind.
  • Hayward reminds us that the SG and the SF in the Jazz's current system is basically the same thing, mostly just about matchups.
  • Hayward remembers fondly his rookie year chase down block of CP3.
  • Hayward likes the extra space the stretch 4 brings to the team.
  • Hayward doesn't like taking the long 2 (but has to take a ton of them).
  • Hayward likes that SLC is similar to Indy, but has never even heard of Zion's National Park (really?)

Now of course the question that Lowe (and everyone else with an iota of common sense who follows the NBA) wants to know is, why the Jazz's young group has played so few minutes together (Go read Amar's post on this very topic from Tuesday):

Are you surprised the core five young guys — you, Trey Burke, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Alec Burks — haven’t played much as a lineup? I don’t think you guys have cracked even 50 minutes together. [Editor's note: They're actually at 52 after Monday.] That’s an intriguing group, right?

Yeah, it is. I don’t know if I’m surprised. It’s just whatever Coach has felt like has given us the best chance to win games. And for whatever reason, with that lineup, it hasn’t been the case.

So what do we learn from Hayward's answer? We learn that he agrees the F5 is an intriguing group (okay, everyone but Coach Tyrone Corbin knew that already). Hayward also confirms what we all have suspected, that Corbin is not playing the F5 together, because Corbin does not think that lineup gives him the best chance to win.

Now, Corbin may or may not be right on that. Of course he knows more than me, he's a basketball lifer. But when Corbin's boss tells Corbin at the beginning of Corbin's season that he isn't being judged on Corbin's win/loss record, then maybe Corbin should take note and listen to Corbin's boss. Unfortunately, for Corbin it is probably too late for him to unmake the bed he has made with his lack of interest in developing the 5 guys that Greg Miller has become the closest with and labeled as the guys who will be here in the future.

Dominique Forces way out of Utah. As you all know, Karl Malone was in town Monday night to catch the Hawks vs. Jazz matchup courtside with Greg Miller and deliver some fantastic commentary during the game, which Mylo discussed here. Domique Wilkins was also in town doing some color commentary of his own for the Hawks broadcast.

This of course gave long-time Jazz fans another chance to moan and wail about the team that never was. The Jazz narrowly missed forming a star-studded early 80's lineup of John Stockton, Darrell Griffith, Wilkins, Malone and Mark Eaton. But alas it wasn't meant to be.

As a refresher for younger Jazz fans, Dominique was drafted 3rd overall by the Jazz on June 29, 1982. As Scott Layden later regaled in 1995, this was a 3 player draft:

"We were picking third that year (1982) in the draft," Scott Layden says. "We couldn't fail, OK? You had James Worthy, Dominique Wilkins and Terry Cummings. We're picking third, OK? If you're picking fourth, you're dead. You get Bill Garnett. Picking third, we can't make a mistake.

Unfortunately, the Jazz did end up failing to land one of those three guys as Dominique refused to sign with the Jazz. After months of trying to sign Dominique, the Jazz eventually relented and traded him to Atlanta on Friday September 4, 1984. As Frank Layden said at the time:

"We didn't want to go through what we have gone through in the past three years as far as having our top draft choice out for training camp because of contract negotiations"

Dominique has tried to re-characterize his reluctance to sign in Utah, not as an issue with playing in the great state of Utah itself, but rather the Jazz trying to convert him into a power forward:

The 6’8″ starred at University of Georgia, but refused to play for the Utah Jazz when he was drafted by the team in 1982 after coming out of college a year early.

"At that time, let me tell you the reason I didn’t want to go there. They said the reason why they were going to draft me is they wanted me to play the Power Forward and Adrian Dantley to play Small Forward. I’m like ‘Ain’t no way that I was playing Power Forward!’. In the league in those days, that was suicide. I wasn’t playing Power Forward."

I'm personally inclined to side with Frank Layden on this one as the "power forward" excuse seems like revisionist history similar to the Rony Seiklay "failed physical" excuse.

In any event, the Jazz's return of John Drew (banned from NBA for cocaine abuse), Freeman Williams (only played 18 games in Utah) and $1MM in cash (needed cash flow for our part-time Las Vegas team), has often been cited as one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history, but that is what you get when your team lacks leverage.

It is also another instance of a young NBA draftee forcing their way out of their draft town and into their desired NBA city.

Will the Jazz have a 1982 repeat in 2014? So why do I bring this Dominique stuff up now? Well, being the insecure Utah fan that I am, I have my fears that some of the predestined all-stars in this NBA draft might pull a Dominique and push their way into one of the many big market teams in line for a top 5 draft pick this year. Cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, and to some extent Orlando, would all seem to be more appealing to 19-20 year old kids than Salt Lake City.

How do I know that? Well there is this for example:

Now clearly Joel Embiid isn't saying he will only play for Los Angeles Lakers (the Clippers are also an option, right?), but he did state his desire to live in LA after visiting while having his back checked out.

There is also this scuttlebutt making the rounds regarding Dante Exum:

We are still a long way from the NBA draft—just about four months, in fact—but already, questions have arisen about the intentions of star Australian guard Dante Exum. Already, Exum has acknowledged that he is a fan of Kobe Bryant, and signed with agent Rob Pelinka, who also represents Bryant. And Exum has said he’d love to play in Los Angeles.

But would Exum go so far as to try to angle his way onto the Lakers, who currently have the fifth-worst record in the NBA? That’s the concern among some front-office executives around the league.

"When you hear some of what he says, it does make you wonder how the process is going to go as far as workouts and that sort of thing," one general manager told Sporting News.

The ties to Kobe Bryant and his agent there are not just due to the fact that Kobe would be a teammate of Exum, but rather because Kobe and his agent (and Jerry West) allegedly orchestrated Kobe to LA via trade on draft day in 1996. Thus there is the thought that the Australian high school phenom Exum is doing the same.

Having lived in California, I get the draw, especially in Southern California, where the weather is fantastic year round and there are so many entertainment options for a young 20 year old NBA player. Furthermore, the NBA players in LA are treated like royalty. You think you know the extent, but you likely have no idea unless you've read some of the stories like this one about Jerry Buss and Magic Johnson's parties.

For the Jazz's sake, assuming the Jazz do land a top pick, we must hope that player is open minded enough to give Salt Lake City a chance.

Why aren't there rules against this sort of thing? Well, there is to an extent. Starting in 1995 the NBA instituted a rookie salary scale that for the most part dictates exactly the amount of money that each 1st round pick will earn. It is so precise that the calculations for years in advance are each attached to the CBA as exhibits. Had this been in place when the Jazz selected Dominique in 1982, perhaps Frank Layden would not have had to worry about a Wilkins holdout extending into the season and he would have been compelled to report (and play power forward!).

Article X, Section 5 of the CBA also provides help for players who might want to threaten to play oversees. An NBA team retains such a players rights for one full year after that player's obligation to the non-NBA team ends. Thus if Exum and/or Embiid thought they might want to force their own draft destiny, they still would be draft property of the Jazz unless they decided to completely sit out basketball altogether and re-enter the 2015 draft.

Needless to say, while I do retain fears that some of the top talent in this draft might try to force their destination, the likelihood of them forcing the Jazz to miss out on a generational talent like Dominique are pretty slim in the modern NBA. As the previous GM commenting on Exum went on to say:

"We have seen this story before, of course. I am not sure a player can have that kind of control, though."

And in recent times, at least, the story has not exactly worked out the way the player hoped. When Ricky Rubio attempted to land himself with the Thunder, Clippers or Kings in ’09, all three teams passed on him and he wound up going to Minnesota.

In 2007, when Yi Jianlian was trying to select his market, he only worked out in front of the Hawks, Celtics, Bulls, Lakers, Clippers, Kings, Warriors and Sixers. Three teams with Top 7 picks—Milwaukee, Memphis and Minnesota—were not invited to watch him. The Bucks drafted Yi anyway.

Of course the Jazz could always eliminate this issue by drafting the college prospect who's mother grew up in Salt Lake City, Jabari Parker.

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