*Editor's Note: I programmed this piece to appear at 5ET to avoid the usual posts, but I didn't know that everyone was going to feel like posting right now. I apologize.
There's been a lot of talk and debate this offseason amongst Jazz fans. If it hasn't been about who the Jazz should or shouldn't draft, the debate has sometimes focused, or at least stumbled on, the value of Al Jefferson, Devin Harris, Paul Millsap and to a lesser degree, CJ Miles in the long term plans of the team. I plan on writing a post dedicated to what the Jazz should do with each of these players, but today Al Jefferson is the center of attention.
Back in March I first suggested that the best move for the Jazz to make would be to trade away Al Jefferson for picks and cap space. It was a little bit radical considering the Jazz were still "fighting" to make the playoffs. I got a lot of backlash then. At the time, no one agreed with me vocally. Things have changed a bit; I think the fanbase is probably fairly split on whether Al Jefferson fits in with the Jazz's long or even short-term plans. It's obvious that Yucca man agrees that trading away Al Jefferson is a necessity. But I will take Yucca's argument one step further. He would argue that we don't need Al Jefferson because we are rebuilding and need to hand the minutes to Derrick Favors. But the Jazz shouldn't have ever traded for Jefferson at all.
While it is obvious that I am going to be unkind about Al Jefferson's game, I want to emphasize that I have nothing against "Big Al." I think he is a genuinely nice guy who really wants to play for a championship team. It isn't his fault that he got traded to the Jazz. In fact, that is who is really under the microscope in this post: the Utah Jazz decision makers. They messed up. Granted, front office members, including Kevin O'Connor, have stated that they believed Mehmet Okur would return to full health at some point last season and Okur's return would have certainly aided the Jazz. But the long and short of Al Jefferson is that his acquisition and affect on the team has not been a positive one. The Jazz made a big mistake when they traded for Al Jefferson and they need to learn from that mistake. The front office didn't learn from their mistake the first time. The Jazz had just gotten themselves out of paying near-max money to an overrated scorer who contributed too little to the team defense when Carlos Boozer signed with the Bulls. But to celebrate, the Jazz went out and signed his 2nd cousin.
In full disclosure, I should state that I was against this trade pretty much from the start. It is fun to go back and read everyone's reaction to the news that we were going to trade for Al Jefferson. FortheLove was even more opposed than I was at the time. But here is what I had to say about it in the comment threads:
"I honestly wonder why they didn’t just resign Boozer if they were willing to spend $14 million.
He (Jefferson) is taller and longer than Boozer. Other than that he is very similar.
"He’s $14 million a year which is overpaid. The Wolves are trading him. that should be enough of a reason. But mostly, he is indefensible as a player. the only person defending him as a legit star of any proportions is Bill Simmons and that’s because he doesn’t want the Jefferson for Garnett deal to seem like the Gasol trade. That is the truth. Did I mention that he isn’t helping the Wolves win games? Oh but he is a 20 and 10 guy if you are into those."