This season the Utah Jazz are doing things a little differently. For one, the projected starting forward for this season, Derrick Favors, is actually starting at center. There are a lot of things happening a little differently for the Utah Jazz this season. Deviating from the norm is the new norm. The Jazz traded two first round draft picks to move up and get the rights to point guard Trey Burke. Then the team traded back into the first round to then get the rights to center Rudy Gobert. This is already after having a #3 pick slated to play center in Enes Kanter. Flashing forward, we now see Kanter off the bench because Favors is starting at center.
Further deviating from the norm the Jazz let all of their free agents go in the off-season. All. Of. Them. The only player who 'kinda' returned was Marvin Williams -- who did not terminate his contract early.
Then something wonderful happened.
The Jazz were part of a three team trade between the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets. Our prizes in that haul were the expiring deals for Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush, and Andris Biedrins -- plus full rights to the previously protected pick of theirs. What was the cost? Well, we ate up all of our cap space with these players, and executed a 'sign and trade' with Randy Foye, who now hoists shots in Denver.
So this is what we gained:
We gained 88 years worth of players who played, on average, 10.6 mpg the previous season, scored 3.5 points a game last season, and will cost the Jazz $8 million each this year. Watch that YouTube Clip again. Seriously, LAST year their combined totals were 10.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 1.6 apg. We're spending $24 million on three guys who collectively product as much as Matt Harpring playing with an injury.
Or well, that's what the numbers showed back when this trade was made.
The real prize was the salary dump and the draft pick. Or at least that was the real prize for the Front office. For the head coach Tyrone Corbin, well, the real prize apparently was Vetzzzz. It was only derailed by injuries. The Jazz traded for Rush, a guy still injured at the time; and Biedrins would sustain an injury in the preseason. The only one player to get consistent minutes this year out of this group has been Jefferson. Since the injury of Gordon Hayward we've seen a little more of Rush as well.
Here are the splits for January so far (8 games maximum):
These guys are playing a lot more and doing so much more -- like, well, scoring a while +6.0 more points while playing +16.4 more minutes per game. Sure, they're not killing it, but they're contributing. One of these guys isn't though. And that's Andris Biedrins.
The last time Beans played in a game was December 16th, 2013. And in total, he has played in only six games this season. Really, here they all are:
|3||Dec||6||2013||@||Portland Trail Blazers||7.1||2||2||0||0||0||0||2||4|
|5||Dec||9||2013||vs||Portland Trail Blazers||13.2||0||7||0||0||0||0||1||7|
(BARPS = Blocks + Assists + Rebounds + Points + Steals)
This is a downer. This is not what I expected. Well, in a way it is and it isn't. The *idea* of the trade for three expiring deals in a salary dump by the Dubs was that we were getting the contracts for flexibility. The other *idea* of this season, in general, was Development & Discovery! So these players weren't supposed to be played. In reality Jefferson starts, and him starting has necessitated moving Marvin Williams to the four, moving Derrick Favors to the five. In even more recent reality, Rush is playing nearly 20 mpg this month -- due to injuries (he's healthy, and Gordo isn't).
The one guy who was expected not to play from this trade who is also not playing is Biedrins. And because of my own ideas of our depth chart, and our head coach, I had expected Beans would get at least one start this year (mostly due to injuries as well). That really hasn't happened. Which is good in the big picture -- Biedrins isn't in the long term plans of the Jazz; and players who are (for the most part) are actually playing: like Favors.
Is this fair to the youth? I don't know. Is this fair to the vets? I don't know. Jefferson is being showcased -- either by his own talents with the hopes of a good contract this July, or by the Jazz org in hopes to elicit a trade. Rush is taking his opportunity when he can get it. He's playing now and trying to show that his injury woes are behind him and he's going to be an NBA player for years to come.
The other soon-to-be-free-agent from that Dubs salary dump is Biedrins. And Andris has played a grand total of 44.6 minutes this season, spread out over 6 games. He's averaging 7.4 mpg, and in that time he's getting 0.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, and nothing else except fouls and turn overs. This is sub- Kyrylo Fesenko level opportunity and sub- Kyrylo Fesenko level production.
And there's a legit reason why this should bum you out.
It's because he's a real professional here. He got traded to a team that had three bigmen prospects in Favors, Kanter, and Gobert. He has made zero stinks about it. He didn't pull a RJ and a) suggest he has no loyalty, and b) start trash talking about the guy on his former team who made him expendable. You don't see Biedrins saying stuff about Festus Ezeli and Ognijen Kuzmic. You hear about him talking to his agent to get him to play, with Kanter getting a DNP-CD the next game.
He's being really classy about this entire thing, and he's not getting a shot to secure his own very immediate (40 more games of the season) present.
Andris is just showing up to practice, and staying late doing this:
So Biedrins is 40 games away from unemployment. I don't think he's going to be used for 'flexibility' in making a trade between now and the deadline (5 weeks away). I don't think he's going to get a chance to play regularly -- unless, knock on wood, we don't have a huge injury problem.
So what are his chances that he'll stick in the NBA after this season? Teams always love and need veteran bigs, just ask Francisco Elson! Size pays, and while he may not be making $9 million a season anymore, he can afford to lower his asking price. His production this season will do most of that for him. He could also just go to Europe or one of the other professional leagues around the world to play. That'll be an option for him always. Guys like Arvydas Sabonis played professionally in Europe years after retiring from the NBA grind.
No matter what happens, he'll be fine. Even if this season is a complete waste for him career-wise. (You know, the kind of waste where you earn $9m before taxes, and get $500 per diem on road trips, and get to work out all day.)
I can't tell the future, but I know that I'll always remember Andris like this:
Also, before you go, please please please teach this move to Rudy Gobert!