20 consecutive years of making the playoffs, 20+ years of Jerry Sloan, Stockton and Malone, etc.
As a small market team, the Jazz have needed that stability to survive. They really can't afford to take too many chances. Can you imagine if Isiah Thomas or or Chris Wallace had been running this team?
The philosophy during the S2M years was to get a very good third piece to the team, and then fill in the cracks with role players. It worked well for a long time but as you painfully know, it never got them the title.
After #12 retired and #32 became #11, the Jazz officially went into rebuilding mode. Through some pretty good drafting and free agenct signings, they were back in the playoffs in just 3 years. Not bad after losing two Hall of Famers. Other teams in larger cities drop out of the playoffs and aren't heard from again for a decade.
In Gordon Monson's latest column on the Jazz, he goes over Kevin O'Connor's off-seasons with the Jazz. He describes him as cautious. I think he's had to be. With the exception of the Boozer and Okur signings, he really hasn't made any big moves.
My quick breakdown of the off-seasons since 2003:
- 2003 - Drafted Sasha P and Mo Williams. Pretty decent. Not too many drafted below them that you might have preferred. They both left though. While Sasha would be an okay player, Mo has turned into an All-Star. KOC gets static over letting him go, but if he had stayed, we likely wouldn't have the other Williams. Maybe we don't even have Mo now because he left for free agency. It's easy to talk about both of those things now of course. Also got the 2010 Knicks pick. Solid B+.
2004 - Drafted now-felon Kirk Snyder and non-felon Kris Humphries. Could have had Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, JR Smith, and a few others. This was his first lottery pick draft. He also signed AK to his huge deal.
Here's the thing with AK's deal: The only way you're going to get free agents to come to Utah is to either move Salt Lake City closer to Las Vegas or throw a whole bunch of money at them. AK was the team's only star at that point. They didn't know if they were going to be able to have another good/great player for a long time. They did what they had to do to keep him. He was going to be the cornerstone of the franchise. Andrei would have been dumb to turn it down.
They also signed Booze and Memo to huge deals by throwing all of their available cash to them.
- 2005 - Thanks to injuries, the Jazz finish near the bottom and end up with the 6th pick in the draft. In probably his best move to date, KOC trades the 6th pick and another to the Blazers for the 3rd. This of course lands us Deron Williams.
- 2006 - Drafted Ronnie B and Paul Millsap. I would say those have turned out quite nicely. This also starts the year where the Jazz finally have their core and they start the stability formula again and begin adding the role players by trading for Fisher
- 2007 - Drafted Morris Almond and get Fesenko. These two have really never been given a chance to see what they can do so we'll have to wait a few years to grade this draft.
- 2008 - Kosta Koufos drafted. It's still way early here too, but he looks like he's going to be at least a solid contributor.
This post has been like a SLC to Vegas trip with a stop in Miami. But here's what I was bringing up all of this stability thing for...
After it was known that Utah and Phoenix had discussed trading Shawn Marion for Andrei, Larry Miller spoke with Locke about the talks. Basically, the trade never happened because the Jazz preferred the stability of AK's four remaining years on his contract versus the 2 that were left on Marion's. They would rather know who was going to be on the team than to have someone's status up in the air.
The question for me is, how much has that stability cost us now? Let's take a look at their stats for the last 2 seasons:
Can you tell who is who? The points and rebounds probably give it away. It's AK on the top.
So tell me if keeping AK the last two years versus trading for Marion has been a huge difference maker. It's hard to compare their stats because Marion has been more of a go-to guy on offense than Andrei. He's also logged a lot more minutes. But overall, I don't think having AK has been a either an advantage or disadvantage.
I wrote on my old site at the time that the trade needed to happen. Now that I think about it again, I'm a bit angry. In the name of stability we're probably in one of the most unstable times since the team moved to Utah. The AK/Marion trade should have happened.
They knew two years ago that Deron was going to be getting a max contract that would start next season. They knew that Booze and Memo could still be on the books. After Brewer's and Millsap's rookie seasons, they had to have known that at least one of them was going to need to get paid.
The trade would have sent AK/Giricek to PHX for Marion/Marcu Banks. Banks would have been a pricy backup PG, but he could have been moved again (like Miami did). Either way, his deal would have been a lot easier to handle right now.
Now we have up to 9 players that could be gone - although really only 3 or 4 are likely to not be in a Jazz uni next season.
With the news from new owner Greg Miller that the Jazz would be willing to venture into luxury tax territory if they needed to, maybe the team is going to start taking some limited gambles.
The team will always need that stability to ensure that it remains viable, but maybe we'll see a zig next time instead of a zag.