The Utah Jazz announced today that forward Marvin Williams will have reconstructive surgery performed on June 3rd to work on his right heel and Achilles tendon. This is good news on many levels. The first level is that this planned surgery will take care of something that needs to get fixed. The second good thing is that this is something you can come back from. I would kinda know. (And on many levels, my own brother had Achilles surgery last year -- not just the "oh, here is Dr. Amar spouting off again . . . ") Marvin is in the last year of a contract that he is sure to opt into now. (He had an early termination option, but now he'll be getting $7.5 million to stay in Utah) This removes uncertainty on the part of the Jazz because we kind of know for sure that Marvin will be around, and we'll have that $7.5 million on the books.
While it sucks personally as a Jazz fan because I felt Marvin would get so much more comfortable in a "post-Al Jefferson / post-Paul Millsap" Jazz training camp, it's more important in the big picture to take care of his body and health. After all, in his next time on the court he'll be in a contract year situation. And if you want to perform well in a contract year, it's easier to do it without nagging injuries, or risk getting a more acute one through negligence.
I think the Jazz knew of this as well, and I think their draft strategy will reflect this. While Mychal and I went to the NBA Draft combine, an information rich environment bereft of PR oversight, we were able to get a lot of pieces of the puzzle together. The biggest ones were the Jeff Hornacek departure, and the involvement of Jerry Sloan. There were a lot of pieces I'm sure we missed. But one that stood out was the Small Forward spot for the Jazz.
The Jazz have/had/still have Marvin Williams. They also will try to bring back DeMarre Carroll. And we do have three wings on rookie deals still in Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, and potentially the non-guaranteed deal for Kevin Murphy. But the Jazz brass (at least 9 people on one side of the court, did not know how many were on the opposite side for the scouts) took keen interest on the SF sections of the Draft Combine.
I do know directly that both Jazz Super GM Kevin O'Connor and Jerry Sloan watched Ricky Ledo very closely, and he was moved to their side of the court to finish up his workout on Day 1. UCLA forward Shabazz Muhammad also told SLC Dunk directly that the Jazz interviewed him, and that his interview was with head coach Tyrone Corbin. Tyrone told him that the Jazz were interested in scoring and well, just watch it yourself.
This is sad for Marvin, but as a Jazz fan I think this is something that gives clarity to our team through injury. Marvin needs to take care of his body in prep for a contract year. Our younger wings need more time and experience on the court. And our front office is not against looking at an upgrade. As the fans know, so do the brass -- we still need a star. We need star power. We need a guy we can build an offense around. This version of the NBA shows us that it most likely is a wing player.
If Shabazz falls to #14, I really don't expect him to fall much farther. That's how I felt after the combine, and now with the Marvin news . . . yeah . . . think about it. It *could* happen.
Marvin's injury doesn't mean he's dead. No. In fact missing the first month of the season (November) may keep him healthy enough to finish the season strong. He's going to be key for our team next year, with a larger role that he hasn't seen since his first two years in the league I expect Marvin to flourish. He can do that only if he's healthy.
In the long run if that means our team is more willing to go BPA in this draft, so be it. Even if the BPA is a guy who falls to us (Kosta Koufos rule, but hopefully with a good player this time). Of course, free agency is also an option -- at some stage we are going to have to dip our toe in, even if it is for 2-3 yr contracts while we figure out who to keep on our team long term. But I'd rather split up 96 SG and SF minutes this year between Hayward, Burks, Carroll, Marvin (when he comes back), one of our draft picks, and maybe one other guy. No need to be desperate here and sign Marco Belinelli or Kelenna Azubuike to a big deal. (Kyle Korver for 3 +1 would be nice though . . . )
At the end of the day, Marvin needed to get this done, and it's win-win for him and the Jazz. Even (especially?) if his future is with our team as well. I wish him the best of luck, and understand why he's electing to have this surgery now, instead of right after the season ended. (You need the body to rest so that the operation will go better for both the patient and the surgeons)