[As you may or may not have noticed, there was no Sunday Syncopation this last week -- or basically any of worth for the month of February. I've broken up the points I was going to make last weekend into posts that I'll drop all week long. Here's another one . . . ]
Right now the NBA has 30 teams. Some think this is too much, some think this is just right. We've all heard rumblings of wanting to expand outside of the USA again, perhaps putting a team back in Vancouver -- or down the road in London, England (why do you think we're always playing NBA games there) and in other European cities. On the other side of the coin, some owners are talking about contraction. New Orleans has had a hard time with this basketball team thing, and again there appears to be a target on their collective back. I don't know what's going to happen in the next few years, but this topic piqued my interest enough to look at the players we Lost and Found via expansion drafts.
Back in the 1974 Expansion Draft, when our franchise essentially started back in New Orleans, we picked players from the previously existing teams out there. Hall of Famer Walt Bellamy, and All-Stars Bob Kauffman and John Block were among that group. Not all players we picked up were great players, but not all of them were horrible. If you care you can read more about this event here.
What have the Jazz lost in the successive expansion drafts since our inception? Well . . .
People we have lost to Expansion:
- (1980) Jerome Whitehead to the Dallas Mavericks
- (1988) Rickey Green to the Charlotte Hornets
- (1989) Jim Farmer to the Orlando Magic
- (1995) Theodore "Blue" Edwards to the Vancouver Grizzlies
- (2004) Aleksandar "Sasha" Pavlovic to the Charlotte Bobcats (then traded)
Sasha is the most recent loss, and he was lost very early in his development. You may not remember, but he was an athletic swing who could do everything from hitting the deep ball to making chase down blocks from behind. Would he have been a star in our system? I don't really know, but to say that he was a huge loss would be an over statement. Blue Edwards, on the other hand, was pretty awesome if you look at what he was doing for us in a Jazz uniform. He had some good years in Vancouver, but if he wasn't picked in the expansion draft, he probably avoids knocking up a Canadian woman and getting into some pretty crazy international legal issues as a result. (It's a big deal, not going to go into it here) Farmer will always suck in my mind, so I have nothing to say here. Losing former All-Star Rickey Green was a legit big deal - or would have been - except being without him allowed for the Jazz to further put the ball in John Stockton's hands. Whitehead was a journeyman who ended up scoring in double digits for the San Diego Clippers and Golden State Warriors years later.
Overall, I'd say that so far we haven't been burned by expansion drafts (knock on wood); but then again, our own brass has been hurting the team time to time without the intervention of other franchises. (I'm a huge Raul Lopez fan, but signing him and Carlos Arroyo over Mo Williams made our team unnecessarily bad. Yes, being that bad helped us get Deron Williams . . . but . . . it's hard to play the 'what if' game. There are no winners, and it makes everyone who plays it a loser.)
If there was an expansion draft today, I know we'd probably lose Francisco Elson ... because no team would take Fesenko at this point. (Even though, going to an expansion team with no rules / no expectations would probably help him get his proverbial *hit together.)