Do you remember much of the 2013-2014 Utah Jazz season? Or did you just scrape it from memory shortly after the team amassed 25 wins? I'm having trouble letting go of the season because I foolishly think that there is something to be learned from every experience -- even ones that do not go as planned. Last season the Jazz were blown out a lot, more frequently than ever before in franchise history. They also were the worst team in the Western Conference, which is never something to champion. The team had good things and bad things happen -- like the lotto PG the team traded up for sustained a hand injury to his shooting hand that required surgery, and it was only the preseason still.
Needless to say when a team wins 25 games there are a lot more problems than successes. During my continuing investigation of our team one huge thing stood out to me.
Jamaal Tinsley played remarkably poorly. I wanted Jamaal (or Earl Watson) back as a free agent to help this team, and was happy when they reached an agreement to bring him back. Today point guards that take care of themselves are able to be productive at ever increasing ages. Jamaal, today, is 36. John Stockton was still an All-NBA player at that age. Surely Tinsley would be able to handle being a serviceable backup in the last few months of being 35, right?
For his career Tinsley had his ups and downs, but for the most part was a legit pass first point guard who could run a team. His three point shot was not a reliable shot, but in his last full season with the Jazz he made 30.7% of them. Defense was becoming a problem as age and injury reduced what he could do on that side of the court -- but I don't think any of us expected the train wreck that we saw in November.
This season he had a PER of 1.9, shot 20.0 fg% / 6.7 3pt% / and didn't even go to the free throw line once. He was still a guy who averaged 2.4 assists per 1.0 turn over, but was easily predated upon by the other team on offense and defense. Previously he was knocking down about 40% of his shots in a Jazz uni, and had PERs of 10.9 and 10.6 in his previous two seasons.
The wheels just fell off, and I think that in a more ideal situation Tinsley would have performed better, and stayed on with the team for more than the 8 games the Jazz kept him for. Eventually Diante Garrett would settle down but he made an immediate impact when he joined the club. But out of the two players I don't think we expected Tinsley to look so out of his league playing in the league compared to the production of the young D-League call up.
Out of my surprises of the season the fall of Tinsley is really up there, and I think his struggles really got the team off on the wrong foot. The whole season of woe isn't his fault. But I really did not expect him to be demonstratively our worst point guard this season.
As a quick point here, but looking at the five guys who played legit point guard minutes last season (Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Diante Garrett, John Lucas III, and Jamaal Tinsley) makes me suspect that the Jazz really aren't done adding point guards to the team. It would be a surprise not to see the team work out at least 4-6 more point guards in predraft competition. There are plenty of veteran point guards on the market too. And last, and best of all, there's still the hint of Raul Neto.
Neto, I understand, is a restricted free agent this off-season. He still may need a buyout because of some old-world FIBA rules, but his talent is undeniable. The depth and quality of the Jazz' point guard rotation last year was anything but.
Really? What was John Lucas III's signature highlight last season? Starting a fight in garbage time against the Houston Rockets?
But more on the point guard spot for a separate post . . .
So Gordon Hayward is a restricted free agent. Some teams want him, some teams will have money to throw at him. I'd love for the Jazz to keep him, but his asking price may be unfortunately too high because of market dynamics. I talked about this a little with the guys at Celtics blog (post over here), and I feel like the Jazz decision makers are looking at players like assets, not people to fall in love with anymore.
This is an advanced point of view, and I think in a perfect world a deal is made without much bad blood. I am still leaning towards the idea that G-Time will be back in Utah next season, but we can't take that to the bank until we see what happens in the first week of the free agency period.
Honestly, the more time Gordon waits the more leverage he may get as teams with cap space strike out with the higher tier players, and have money to spend.
Personally I think I have trouble paying Gordon more than $11 million per season. Especially when you could get a guy like Andrei Kirilenko for $6.5-7 million per year now.
Oh, guess who is back in town?
I'm not die hard set on bringing back Kirilenko to the Jazz, but it would be a nice enough story as the Jazz continue to be mired in an extended transition period.
If you are keeping score the Utah Jazz still don't have a head coach. But that's okay. I'm only going to start worrying about this if we don't have one by October 31st. that said, out of the candidates listed, none really excite me. But I guess it's a fan's job to be excited about things. Sometimes in our excitement we go a bit too far. Jazz fans are known for being unruly at times. There was the guy who covered one of his eyes when Derek Fisher was shooting a free throw in the playoffs. There were those "Fisher Lied" girls. Uh, there were all the hate comments made about Fisher during every news cycle. Okay, we seem to be obsessed with Fisher.
One thing that I don't think we need to apologize for is our collective passion for the team and for the sport. One thing that I do wish to politely stress here is that while passion and encouraged, we do like to focus our commentary here in a professional way. There's a reason why you don't see authors dropping f-bombs in ESPN articles.
It's not crazy to see why they would chose to operate that way.
We do the same thing here. And it's not a Utah thing, or a Mormon thing or whatever. I am neither from Utah or a Mormon. For me it's a work thing. And for the culture of this community I want it to be something we can respect.
There's a reason why I don't load up some crazy website (what's crazy now-a-days? is 4chan still crazy?) at work -- I don't want to get fired. I don't want anyone to get fired because of the content at this page, and that includes the types of things in the comments section. We don't have full time mods, so some things slip by.
That's on us.
But what's on you is to make this your home. It is your home, after all. So treat it like you would your home -- when company is over.
It's simple. We've gone over this many times over the last few seasons. I don't want you to get fired because the SLC Dunk comments section becomes the wild wild west. Other sites have different rules than us. That's fine. I respect their right to have different rules. When you come here you at least tacitly agree to follow and respect ours.
Be passionate. But be a good representative of one of the smartest NBA fanbases there are by using more of your vocabulary. Sure, we know the Houston Rockets fans are going to stoop to using bad words. But you're better than them. You're a Jazz fan.
Be passionate. Be creative. Have fun. Don't get fired.
So, Ante Tomic is probably better today than guys like Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle, or Aaron Gordon may ever be. I'm not just saying that either, I'm just pointing out the facts. First of all, Tomic isn't a college senior, he's a grown man who has been playing 60+ games a season, every season, for at least the last three seasons. There's less chance for a rookie wall. He's also a true big, as he's a 7'2 guy with pro moves that have worked against people in lower level European leagues to international contests against American ballers alike.
He has the one thing none of our other bigs on the roster have, experience. He's also had success at the professional level, so that's two things.
Jazz VP of basketball operations had this to say about Tomic:
Q: You have a couple of foreign players you drafted in the past, Ante’ Tomic in 2008 and Raul Neto last year. What is their status?
A: Both have had pretty good years, and Tomic is on one of the better teams in Europe. We’re at the point with him where we’re trying to make that decision (whether to buy out his contract). With Raul, we’re not sure, we haven’t talked about it yet what we may want to do in terms of bringing him over this year or keeping him there for another year.
It's obvious that he would help our team. But by looking at the financials, he would be essentially taking a huge paycut to play with the Jazz. How big? He's be locked into a 2nd rounders contract earning him approximately one fifth of what he's making already. And that's AFTER a buy out procedure.
This news story is not just news here, but also in Europe (here and here). If Tomic comes to Utah this shifts a balance of power in the ACB league in Spain (one of the top, if not the top, leagues). He is the vet big on a very small contract who can play PF or C and has both post up skills and a face up game.
I really don't think the Jazz can afford to bring him over (they can't financially make it worth Tomic's time to pay his way out of his contract). Tomic is on the books for at least another season with FC Barcelona. He would help the Jazz during this transition period, but I really think the Jazz would rather move him (as an asset, and not a player to fall in love with) to help with some of their more domestic long term plans.
For the record in the Final Four this year he had a 21/8/1/1/1 game in a blowout loss to Real Madrid (his former club). And then helped his team secure third place in Europe with a win over CSKA Moscow.
He may not have much left to prove in Europe. But he isn't going to get paid and live the life he did lead here in the US.