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Keep Your Eye On The Prize - The Downbeat - #646

This was Kevin O'Connor's statement on rebuilding a couple of weeks ago (transcription courtesy of moni),

The word I'm not ever going to use is "rebuild," because you give yourself an opportunity to have an excuse. "Well, we're rebuilding. That's why we didn't play well." ... What we're looking to do is to get back to where we can compete every night.

There may be another reason as to why Kevin O'Connor doesn't want to use the term rebuild. What happens to the trade value of guys like Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Mehmet Okur if other GMs know the Jazz are going to blow things up? Fifty cents on the dollar? Twenty? What would happen if the Jazz rolled out a starting lineup of Devin Harris, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter? There's obviously a lot wrong with that, but if other teams know that the Jazz are rebuilding, then it becomes a firesale for the Jazz and they get less value in return.

On the flipside, what if the Jazz get out to a horrendous start? I'm talking something like 1-10 or 2-15. What happens to the trade value of the big men then? There's even less time this season to try to catch back up and "compete" for a playoff spot. If the Jazz are out of it early, there will be more cries for the Jazz to move some of the veterans and acquire more assets. Once again though, the value drops for those players that are likely to be traded. If you're in the "go young" camp, then you need the Jazz to remain competitive for a bit and let O'Connor try to get the most for one or more of those players.

There is a plan. Remember, Favors is the prize. He was the one that absolutely had to be included in the Deron Williams trade. He will be the starter at some point.

Chad Ford hands out his off-season grades. The Jazz and Clippers were the only ones to have received an A. An excerpt (Insider),

O'Connor used one of those assets to draft Enes Kanter with the No. 3 pick. Then he used his own pick to bring in Alec Burks. Put those two players together with Favors and last year's lottery pick Gordon Hayward and the Jazz suddenly have one of the best young cores in the NBA. All four players have the ability to be All-Stars if they live up to their potential.

What makes O'Connor one of the best in the business is that he's doing the rebuilding while still putting a respectable team on the floor. He has solid veterans like Devin Harris, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson still on the roster and added more depth by getting Josh Howard on a super cheap deal.

Even if two of the four drafted players mentioned turn into All-stars, O'Connor will have pulled off quite the haul. I would even take one All-star and three solid rotation players.

Even with the lockout, Bradford Doolittle and Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus still put out their annual in-depth preview this season. It's on sale for a very reasonable $9.98 in pdf form and will be coming to Amazon shortly. It really is a must-read for Jazz fans and NBA fans. I also contributed a little blurb for the publication (that's the reason why it's not $10 even; my contribution actually lowered the value by $.02). I don't get anything from the sales, only a free copy of the prospectus. I would still purchase it even if I hadn't given my few lines. Anyway, here's an excerpt on the Jazz from Doolitte,

O’Connor has more payroll flexibility moving forward than any other exec in the NBA. There isn’t a single guaranteed contract on the books beyond next season. O’Connor will probably want to re-sign Evans, who can be a restricted free agent after the year, but he can literally hit reset on his roster and build around the rookie contracts of Kanter, Favors, Burks and Hayward. If all goes perfectly--and it never does- -that’s four-fifths of a really young and cheap lineup. Less than a year after he decided to change directions with his team, O’Connor is in a position every rebuilding general manger would envy.

If you have never read these, there are projections for the team, for players, and all kinds of insight. It would be worth the price alone if it was just made for the Jazz. But it's on every player and team in the league. There are 406 pages in all -- a nice reading over the Christmas weekend to get you ready for the season.

The Jazz got heavier overall as a team according to Jody Genessy which they all attribute to muscle gain. Big Al put on pounds as a result of his workouts at P3.

The most surprising thing to me though was the fact that Jeremy Evans lost weight, down two pounds from last season. That means gravity has even less hold on him now. I thought for sure that he would gain at least a couple of pounds.

David Locke said on the air that Evans ate at Subway when he heard the lockout was over. Was that the first time he had eaten in five months? I wonder if he was eating at all during the lockout. The next time there's a lockout, in addition to prepaying for Jazz players to work at P3, they need to pre-load Subway gift cards for the guys that need to put on weight.

Swagger or more rookie duties for Burks? From Jody Genessy,

"You can see the future out there, me, D-Fav, Gordon, Jeremy (Evans), Enes, everybody out there," he said. As if sharing the same mind wave with Kanter, he then added his hopeful message: "The future's bright for us."

It was funny to read that he thought he wasn't getting any calls. Good luck with that. You're a rookie and you play for the Jazz. I like his attitude though.