Jazz lose. Last night the Jazz fought hard, took an 11 point lead, and eventually succumbed to one of the elite Eastern Conference teams, the Indiana Pacers. Amar has your recap right here: Jazz 86, Pacers 95.
Despite the end result, that may have been as encouraging of a game for the Jazz's youthful roster as we have seen in a while. Enes Kanter returned to the starting lineup and put up a very respectable 20 points and 10 rebounds. Derrick Favors continued to lead the team with his stellar play and had his own double, double with 23 and 13.
Perhaps the most encouraging thing was that we finally saw the Jazz's F5 lineup (Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Favors, Kanter). So how did it go? In his post game "Emptying the Noggin", David Locke reported the results as follows:
Lineup of Trey, Alec, Gordon, Favors and Kanter played together tonight for 9 minutes and outscored the Pacers 24-19. Offensive rating of 141 and a defensive rating of 106. They had only played 1 minute together prior to tonight.
On the one hand, small sample size. On the other hand, that's a pretty good offensive output against a pretty good defensive team. On the third hand...20 GAMES INTO THE SEASON?!?!? IT REALLY TOOK COACH TYRONE CORBIN 20 GAMES INTO THE SEASON TO PLAY DENNIS LINDSEY'S MOST PRIZED PROSPECTS ANY MEANINGFUL COURT TIME TOGETHER? SERIOUS? SERIOUSLY???
Sure, I get that Burke was been out with injury, but this is his 8th game back. Most national season previews had this lineup as our likely starting lineup, but yet this is the first time we see it. Twenty games into the season.
And people wonder why there is a question of Corbin's commitment to developing the youth on this roster.
Marvin's Injury. After playing in 13 of the Jazz's last 14 games since returning from offseason surgery on his right achilles' heal, Marvin Williams was an unhealthy scratch for last nights game. Jody Genessy of the DesNews reported his current injury situation as follows:
Williams missed Wednesday’s game against Indiana and is uncertain when he’ll return again. A bone scan by the Jazz medical staff Tuesday revealed that the 6-foot-9 athlete has calcaneal (heel bone) inflammation in his right foot.
Ouch. Sounds painful, though I'm no medical doctor. I am however an older man who deals with various inflammations in my legs every time I go work out and it can make even running in a straight line very difficult.
So Marvin, what is the good and bad news?
“It’s not my actual Achilles, which is good news,” he said.
The bad news?
“My heel’s really inflamed right now,” he said. “It’s causing a lot of discomfort, putting a lot of pressure on my foot right now.”
Williams believes the “daily grind” of practicing and playing on that foot led to the injury. He can’t recall a specific moment when it started hurting.
As an aging NBA player this sounds like a nagging injury that Marvin will likely have to deal with for the rest of the year. It will be up to him and the Jazz's training staff to manage the pain and give it rest when it becomes too severe.
Marvin Trade Bait? Prior to yesterday's injury revelation there had been some growing buzz that perhaps Marvin was playing so well that he had become a trade piece. While some might speculate that Marvin's relative youth at 27 might make him a long-term Jazz piece, I think the likelihood of him choosing to re-sign in Utah next summer is fairly slim. As an 8 year veteran and looking at his 3rd NBA contract, Marvin will be an unrestricted free agent this July and looking for a deal that will pay until his 32nd birthday. I would also speculate that he'd prefer to sign with a contender. Thus, considering the Jazz's current status as cellar dweller and extended timeframe for competitive basketball, I do not think the Jazz and Marvin present a long-term match.
So that said, I've put together 3 hypothetical trades for places that may make some sense for Marvin to be dealt to prior to the February trade deadline.
San Antonio Spurs.
Utah Trades: Marvin Williams (1 year, $7.5MM) and a 2nd round draft pick.
San Antonio Trades: Matt Bonner (1 year, $3.95MM), Jeff Ayres (2 years, $1.75MM, $1.83MM) and a 2014 1st round draft pick.
Why San Antonio Does it: The Western Conference is brutal this year and it may become an arms race at the trade deadline to solidify the contenders from the pretenders. As the reigning conference champs, the Spurs may not feel the need to do anything, but then again they must be well aware that their title window is very short. While Bonner has played well for them in the past, he is no longer a serviceable rotation player.
Alternatively, Marvin would give the Spurs another SF/PF that can fit in where needed and provide some valuable minutes during the regular season and the playoffs. While nobody wants to give up a 2014 1st round pick, the Spurs selection will no doubt be in the mid to late 20's and recouping an early 2nd rounder from Utah makes it more palatable.
Why Utah Does it: Utah's goal is clearly to land as many draft assets as possible. While a late 1st rounder from San Antonio might not bring the Jazz the prime player they are looking for it is an asset they can use with the Golden State pick to give themselves more upward draft mobility on draft day.
Utah Trades: Marvin Williams (1 year, $7.5MM).
Minnesota Trades: Alexey Shved (2 year, $3.1MM, $3.2MM), Dante Cunningham (1 year, $2.2MM).
Why Minnesota Does it: Minnesota has already demonstrated their willingess to shake up their roster by dealing the underperforming Derrick Williams for a defensive SF in Luc Mbah a Moute. Reportedly, however Shved is also on the trade block and the Wolves could use a better backup to Kevin Love who can also spread the floor a bit. Marvin would give the Wolves serviceable minutes at PF and SF and make this team more serious contenders in the playoffs.
Why Utah Does it: After a decent rookie year and a good shooting preseason, Shved has not been able to get it together in Minnesota. He has been miscast as a SG which creates problems when he is paired with the poor shooting Ricky Rubio. Shved still has some upside as a backup playmaker and if used correctly could provide the team with a significant upgrade behind Burke for a reasonable 2 year salary.
Utah Trades: Marvin Williams (1 year, $7.5MM).
Miami Trades: Joel Anthony (2 year, $3.8MM, $3.8MM Player Option), Rashard Lewis (1 year, $1.4MM), Roger Mason (1 year, $1.3MM) and a future 1st round pick from the Philadelphia 76ers.
Why Miami Does it: Every year it seems that Miami needs help in the frontcourt next to Lebron and Bosh. This year is no different as they could use someone who can supply a diverse presence in the lineup at PF without doing all the knuckleheaded things that Michael Beasley typically does. Marvin can guard multiple positions, hit some open threes, and won't get in the way of everything else Miami is doing. Further, this trade gives the Heat some much needed cap relief in 2014 by trading away the 2nd year of Joel Anthony's deal just as Lebron, Wade and Bosh will be signing their new contracts.
Why Utah Does it: This whole trade is a gamble on the future pick that Miami is owed from Philadelphia. Courtesy of RealGM, the conditions of the pick are as follows:
2014 first round draft pick from Philadelphia
Philadelphia's 1st round pick to Miami protected for selections 1-14 in 2014 or 1-14 in 2015; if Philadelphia has not conveyed a 1st round pick to Miami by 2015, then Philadelphia will instead convey its 2015 2nd round pick and 2016 2nd round pick to Miami [Miami-Philadelphia, 6/28/2012]
Essentially, if Philadelphia is a lottery team over the next 2 seasons (likely) then this pick turns into two 2nd rounders in the 2015 and 2016 drafts. So Utah gets 1 late 1st rounder or 2 high 2nd rounders all for dealing a player who may not be very likely to return. Not a bad tradeoff with the slight possibility that Philadelphia upgrades itself enough next summer to make the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2015.