Dennis Lindsey took one of the biggest metaphorical swings of his tenure with the Utah Jazz at this season’s trade deadline. Unfortunately, it was a mighty whiff and he is now stuck with the players he seemed so intent on getting rid of for weeks.
With the deadline now firmly in the rear-view mirror, each member of the team, coaching staff and front office need to make sure the Jazz don’t turn into the Lakers and become a drama-laden team. They need to put all of the talk, rumors etc. and put it behind them.
These guys are professionals, sure, but they’re also human, and a large portion of what makes this team good is the trust and chemistry they’ve built from top to bottom, from ownership down to the interns.
Trust is easily broken, though, and Ricky Rubio won’t easily forget how hard the front office tried to give him away for someone they deemed better.
Ricky Rubio, on the drama of the trade deadline: "Do I like it? No. I hate it. … The team, sometimes, upstairs, they don't feel like the chemistry matters, and sometimes it matters more than anything." pic.twitter.com/NPW46TIp86— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) February 8, 2019
There’s a bit of a divide in the Utah fan base on whether this current core’s chemistry is more important than bringing in superior talent and re-tooling large portions of the roster. But no matter which side any given fan is on, the Jazz need to make sure these rumors don’t affect their performance right now and down the road.
In the week leading up to the deadline, it’s possible that the drama was having an impact on the team’s performance. The Jazz lost two games by 27 points against teams they’ve blown out this season, and in their two wins against Atlanta and Phoenix (combined record: 29-81), Utah looked very uninspired (at home mind you) early on before blowing those games open late for double-digit wins.
It’s easy to assume that things will go back to normal, but as the season winds down, how much will thoughts of the deadline change how guys like Rubio and Derrick Favors play? The front office seems to have made it clear they are willing to move on from those to in favor of better players.
Rubio and Favors are both effectively in contract years and are nearly at the age where they’ll only get one last big contract, assuming they put up good enough numbers. If they don’t think the Jazz will take care of them, they’ll take care of themselves and it could be detrimental to the team.
This team doesn’t wake up in the morning like James Harden with the ability to score 50 before stretching. They aren’t the Golden State Warriors, a team the basketball gods gifted with five All-Stars. The Jazz are a team of misfits and castaways that bonded to create a playoff-worthy team. Let’s hope that bond holds enough to re-create the short, but magical playoff run from last season.