Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Al Jefferson
Posted on: February 10, 2011 3:34 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 7:54 pm
 

If Williams forced out Sloan how can he stay now?

Posted by Royce Young



News of Jerry Sloan's resignation is about as shocking a thing as you can expect on your regular February Thursday in the NBA. It came just a week after Sloan had reportedly signed a one-year extension and as the longest tenured coach in American professional sports, everyone was left asking one question.

Why?

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Sloan had "lost the team." One source described the situation as Deron Williams only staying if Sloan stepped down. Everything down to playing time, Sloan's famous "flex" system and rotations alienated key Jazz players.

Yahoo! Sports reports the two clashed in a big way at halftime of the Bulls' game Wednesday. “He decided right there in halftime that he was done,” a league source said. “He felt like ownership was listening more to Williams than they were to him anymore. He was done.”

Marc Stein of ESPN.com added to the pile, tweeting : "Two sources say Wednesday's tension started when DWill ran different play than play called on sideline by Sloan, leading to halftime blowup."

Whoa.

Williams is a free agent in 2012 and has always been a very strong-willed player. Williams and Sloan had always gotten along, but the relationship has certainly been rocky. The feeling, according to Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune, is that Williams wasn't staying past next season if Sloan was still there.

But Deron Williams didn't just push out a coach, he pushed out Jerry Sloan. He pushed out the coach that had patrolled the sideline for 23 years. He pushed out a Hall of Famer, a coach with more than 1,200 wins and one of the all-time great. Not exactly something you want on your resume when you're looking for that max contract as a free agent.

So the front office may have made this move in order to salvage its chance to keep Williams. But the question is, how in the world does Williams stay if his legacy is pushing out Jerry Sloan? How can he possibly re-assert himself as the face of the franchise if he's the one credited with pushing the franchise's most legendary figure out the door?

Al Jefferson was brought in to replace Carlos Boozer and had performed well at times, but often looked uncomfortable. But really, who's fault is that? Sloan's, or the person that assembled the team? I mean, Sloan has been there for 23 years. I'm pretty sure we know how he's running the team. So it's not on him to bring in players that fit in right. It's up to players to adapt to the system and for the front office to put together a group that works well in it.

If Jerry Sloan "lost the team," I just find that ridiculous. Yes, the Jazz have been struggling. They're 31-23 and second in the Northwest. But they had high hopes this season with the offseason addition of Jefferson. Then again, this is a team that was losing Boozer, sharpshooter Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer, who all played key parts in the team last season.

And on top of that, the star Williams, wasn't playing nice with Sloan. All of that was a recipe for disaster. Evidently Sloan had enough. By all appearances management was siding with the players here so backed into a corner, Jerry Sloan just handed in his papers.
Posted on: January 28, 2011 1:28 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2011 1:30 pm
 

Deron Williams MRI negative, what about the Jazz?

MRI negative for Deron Williams' wrist, day-to-day, but what about the Jazz as a whole?
Posted by Matt Moore

Deron Williams "felt a pop" when he injured his wrist Wednesday night, prompting him to have an MRI done, and stopping the hearts of every Jazz official, player, and fan throughout the land. But the good news is that the results are back, and they are negative. No structural damage for Williams, and he's listed as day-to-day with a strained tendon. 

Losing Williams is not the same as the funk the Jazz are going through. There's a number of people jumping off the good ship Jazz 2011, but in reality, they looked very good at the beginning of the season.  There are a number of areas of concern, however, as outlined by the Salt Lake City Tribune's Kurt Kragthorpe in his midseason review a week ago: 
In previous years, “We had a better chemistry,” Williams said. “I don’t know if you could say better players that fit the system, but a better mesh of guys.”

For all of his leadership and dependability, Raja Bell appears every bit of 34 years old, shooting poorly and defending inadequately. Nobody’s sure what to think of rookie Gordon Hayward.

So the newcomers have not changed the organization’s outlook, and play of the holdovers is no more encouraging. The contract-year version of Andrei Kirilenko is the usual model, a sixth-year C.J. Miles is still not a complete upgrade, Paul Millsap is slumping and not even Williams is exempt from criticism.
via Kragthorpe: Jazz’s downturn leads to depressing forecast | The Salt Lake Tribune.

And all that was much nicer than what was said and is being said about Al Jefferson. The real problems, though, are the things wrong on defense, as Zach Lowe from SI illustrated earlier this week. 

Over the last six weeks or so, the nightmare scenario for Utah has played out. Both of those early problematic trends have continued, while opponents have started to make shots. Teams shot 46 percent from the floor (and 39 percent from three) against the Jazz in December; those numbers have jumped to 47.3 percent and 40 percent so far in January. Meanwhile, the Jazz still give up the most free throws per shot attempt, and, most disturbing of all, they’ve settled in at 27th in defensive rebounding rate. The latter trend is especially disturbing, because Utah ranked fifth in that category last season, meaning their defensive rebounding has collapsed much more dramatically than we should have expected given the loss of Carlos Boozer (a better rebounder than either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap).

In fact, only seven teams since 1973-74 have seen their place in the league’s defensive rebounding hierarchy (as measured by percentile rather than raw rank, given the changing number of teams in the league) drop further in one season than Utah’s has so far, according to Basketball-Reference.

A deeper look at Utah’s defense suggests the problem lies in the pick-and-roll — and specifically in its inability to stop dribble penetration at the top. An exhaustive look at video points to, primarily, the inability (or reluctance) of Millsap and Jefferson to jump out aggressively and cut off ball-handlers before they turn the corner. For whatever reason, both prefer mostly to sag back as Williams chases point guards over screens. 
via The Point Forward » Posts Monday Musings: Defensive issues mute Jazz «.

In case you're missing the theme, here, it's that the Jazz are playing terribly. The gap, though, is that in years past they would surge in January and February, then fall back to the pack and be easily dismissed in April. January is not the time to be surging. April is. Jerry Sloan has until then to get things straight. If he doesn't, or if the Jazz wind up in the Lakers' side of the bracket, it's going to be yet another predictable, easily-dismissed exit from the playoffs in the first or second round. The list is pretty simple:
  • Shore up the pick and roll defense, getting Al Jefferson more in tune with the defensive principles and awareness he needs
  • Commit to the kind of effort they gave on the glass early on the season.
  • Resolve the shooting woes from the perimeter, finding some option among the plethora of wings they have available.
  • Get everything in tune at once.


But at least they won't be trying to fix these problems now without Deron Williams. 
Posted on: November 27, 2010 1:09 pm
 

Al Jefferson loves playing for the Jazz

Posted by Royce Young

It's always great to see a talented player get to play on a team that deserves his ability. We saw it with Kevin Garnett finally getting out of Minnesota (where he nearly carried them over the top) to go to Boston to play on a championship team.

And now another former Celtic who moved to Minnesota in that Garnett deal, is playing for a team where he feels his talent and ability actually means something other than rebuilding.

Al Jefferson, after the Jazz beat the Lakers in a hard fought, 112-106 win, was a but emotional following the game.
“I haven’t beaten the Lakers in probably six years, since I left Boston, and I haven’t been in a playoff game in six years and it felt like a playoff game. Every possession counted. Kobe Bryant being who he is, and we were down, we fought back, we didn’t give up. We won against all odds. It was just amazing, man. I’m overwhelmed. It’s never been like this before, and to be a part of this. It just meant a lot to me.”
That quote, is awesome.  And we're just about 20 games into the season. He may cry like I did at the end of Marley and Me when the Jazz take the floor for their first playoff game in front of that awesome, crazy Salt Lake home crowd.

I love how much this means to Jefferson. It makes you feel for the guys out there fighting away on bad teams right now (hello Andre Iguodala). Hopefully either their group turns it around or they can find a home where they can find some success.

The Jazz are 12-5 and sitting atop the very rough and tumble Northwest Division. Jefferson hasn't necessarily been terrific, but he's averaging 16.9 points and 8.8 rebounds a game. But those things don't matter to him. The fact he's playing for a winner is all that does.
Category: NBA
Posted on: November 12, 2010 10:06 pm
 

Jazz knock off another East beast, top Hawks

Jazz topple Atlanta for their third road trip against Eastern powerhouse. Posted by Matt Moore

Three road games against three of the top teams in the East. Heat. Magic. Hawks.

Three wins for the Utah Jazz who every day look more and more like a Western Conference contender. Down multiple possessions with under four minutes to go, the Jazz did what they've done consistently this season. Keep coming, take the lead, keep the lead, get the win, this time over the Hawks 90-86 (GameTracker ). Deron Williams at one point scored 11 straight points for the Jazz on his way to 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 10 assists. That's how they roll. Of particular note in the first half, Williams crossed over two Hawks, split the lane and jammed it. With time closing in the first quarter, the Hawks freaked out trying to prevent Williams from getting an assist and in doing so, left him wide open at the arc. Kaboom.

Paul Milsap only had 11 and 6, but this was an Al Jefferson night. Jefferson looked very much like he was starting to fit in with the team, especially with Williams on the pick and roll, on his way to 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists. His passing was superb, getting it inside to Milsap, and out for mid-range J's.

Despite all that the Hawks led for much of the second half behind an other-worldly performance from Josh Smith. 20 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks for JSmoove, and he was working it in the post and getting to the line. The Hawks shot 49% from the field and still lost. A tough loss, but that's how the Jazz operate. Silent but deadly, the Beasts of the East, in the Western Conference.

The Jazz have so much movement on their offense and while teams in the past few years may have had more perceived talent, Utah has a set of players that right now are playing tremendously well together. Kyrylo Fesenko had 5 assists. Because that makes sense in this world. You've got to think Jerry Sloan is an early coach of the year candidate. The Jazz finish their road trip tomorrow for their fourth game in five nights against the Bobcats.

Oh, and on November 24th, the Jazz travel to New Orleans. You know, if you're interested.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 12:51 am
 

Jazz: Giant killers or smoke and mirrors?

Do wins over the Heat and Magic on a back-to-back road trip make the Jazz giant killers or simply masters of parlor tricks they can't rely on? Survey says: Jazz fans don't care. Posted by Matt Moore

Jazz Giant Killer's Or Lucky Strikes?

You'd think that knocking off two of the best teams in the East, championship contenders both, on back to back nights, on the road, would clear up the angle of who the Jazz are. You'd think that surviving a LeBron James triple-double, a 39 point outburst from Dwyane Wade, and a 20 point night from Vince Carter would give the Jazz an air of invincibility.

But it wouldn't be the Jazz if the didn't leave just the slightest hint of doubt in the minds of neutral observers, enough to plant seeds of skeptical criticism and enabling Jazz fans to rally behind their team as the underrated superstars once again. Meet the New Jazz. Kind of like the Old Jazz. Only kind of better, so far.

The disturbing signs about the Jazz are based on probablities. Losing to the Magic in a close one would have actually seemingly cemented the win over Miami as legitimate, because it wouldn't be seen as a fluke. Instead, the Jazz now have back-to-back road victories on a back-to-back against two of the top 3 teams in the East (common sense, not record-wise). And that just seems improbable. It seems improbable that they survived James' triple-double and Wade's outpouring, that they managed to get Dwight Howard in foul trouble and still overcome Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson having it going. Mostly it seems improbable that they could do all of this after going down by 15+ in each of the two games.

So the question is there.

Is this for real?

The Jazz started off remarkably slow this season, with losses to Denver and Phoenix. But a big Halloween night win over the Thunder seemed to spur them into a wakeup call, and since then they've only lost once in November, and that was to a Golden State team that no longer is an unforgiveable loss. But no one could have seen this coming. Well, except Jerry Sloan. Sloan was his usual self after the game, unmoved by his team's performance. Happy with the win, sure, but he's been around the block too many times to get too worked up, though he made time to praise his point guard. As he should; Deron Williams was simply phenomenal.

Stan Van Gundy called the loss "disturbing" and he should refer to it that way. Not just for the Magic who saw Dwight Howard turn into Clark Kent getting pummeled by the suddenly superhuman Paul Millsap, but for the rest of the league and those that try and make sense of it. Are the Jazz this good? Was this just a fluke, again? Does Utah have something special going on here even in November, or was this just an anomaly on their way to where most predict them, a mid-level playoff seed and a second round exit at the hands of the Lakers again?

Playing from a deficit makes for great blog fodder and warms the hearts of fans, but it's also not a sustainable strategy. Eventually you'll dig a hole you can't climb out of, and when that happens, you'll find yourself regretting you need the shovel at all. But at the same time, the energy, enthusiasm, and burgeoning chemistry can't be denied on a team that managed to make the Magic look meek and the Heat seem sub-zero in the fourth quarters of both games. And so we'll continue to wonder if the Jazz are giant killers or just mosquitoes that managed to catch the goliaths napping long enough to draw blood.

After all, there were plenty of people saying the victory over the Heat Tuesday night was a fluke based on the perimeter prowess of Paul Millsap. Those same people will question how reliable it is to depend on the Magic to surrender 21 turnovers. In both games against the Sunshine Behemoths the Jazz were out-rebounded and faced significant deficits in field goal percentage. And in both games they seemed to go on a near-psychotic rush to pull the game back within reach. Those same people will question if this is a reliable strategy. But at the end of the day it was reliable enough to net them wins over two teams that aren't going to have too many losses come April.

And consider this: the Jazz are still integrating new players, too, and with the rest of their division looking weak early on, the Jazz are giving themselves an opportunity to do something big by winning games they're not supposed to.

But then, that's why we play them, isn't it?
Posted on: October 21, 2010 1:26 am
Edited on: October 21, 2010 1:29 am
 

NBA Northwest Division preview

The CBSSports.com NBA Facts and Rumors team previews each of the NBA's six divisions. First up: the Southeast.  Posted by Matt Moore.

The Burning Question: Just how big is the Melo question in this division?

Will he be here? Will he be gone? Will Denver retool? Rebuild? Firesale everything but the walls and sell those for scrap? If he is there, will he be a distraction? Will it be business as usual? Are we confident the Nuggets can contend even if he's still in Denver? Are we sure? Are we confused? Angry? Hungry? Who's hungry? 

Last year Denver went 12-4 in this division. The other three cannibalistic playoff teams in this division went 25-23 combined. So Denver's got a lot to say about who wins this division. The problem is, of course, we have no idea what we're going to get when mid-November rolls around and teams have shaken off the early rust or shine and are revealed to be what they actually are.  If Carmelo Anthony is still in Denver at that time, as it appears he very well may be, this team could lead the division, further scuttling Melo's trade prospects. Conversely, if Anthony's gone and Denver's decided to go all Jericho and rebuild their society, then things could get pretty crazy in the rest of the division.

Melo was the biggest star in this division over the past several years, but now that Kevin Durant has eclipsed him as the next great scoring forward, there's more talk than ever about what exactly it is that Melo provides this team. And that question is going to be examined even closer this year as Kenyon Martin is out till January and Chris Anderson till December. The complimentary pieces that were brought in to surround Melo are injured and Chauncey Billups isn't getting any younger. Meanwhile J.R. Smith is still J.R. Smith for better or worse, and this team is always a half second away from going into full-on mental chemistry meltdown. 

The Thunder should be improved, but can they topple a veteran group that knows how to win night in and night out like Denver? Utah's got Al Jefferson, but can they overcome their injury issues to maintain a consistency like Denver has? And if we want to talk about injuries, take Portland's training staff. Please. Ba-dum, ching. No?

If Denver goes down the tubes, there will be a team to fill the void. The only question is if that team will simply be vacating an open spot or legitimately taking the spot Denver had been tagged for a year ago, that of de facto Western challenger to LA. 

What Berger Says: 


CBS Sports Senior Writer Ken Berger previews the Southeast Division.
Everything is in flux with the Melo situation still unresolved. So the spectrum of what could go right for the Nuggets looks like this: A) Clinging to the scant hope that Anthony can be persuaded to stay; or B) Getting the best possible deal for him. There's little reason to have any faith that A can happen. So the Nuggets will continue to explore trade possibilities, which will force them to decide whether it's possible to trade Melo in a deal that saves money and keeps them in contention (no), or saves money and sets them up for the best possible future. Either way, it looks to me like the Nuggets' ascent has ended before they reached their full potential.



And Now, A Non-Sequiter:

Anyone else feel like Kyrylo Fesenko would be the worst roommate in the world? Young, inexperienced, probably always asking questions. He's a jokester, which is fine when you're hanging out but gets old real quick.  Dude probably steals your toothpaste, too. No? Just me? Okay. Just checking. 

VIDEO OF SUPREME PREVIEW SUPREMACY: 
Posted on: October 15, 2010 9:55 am
 

Shootaround 10.15.10: Good and bad places

Dwight Howard thinks the new rule has its place, Monta Ellis' wife is keeping him in the right place, Andre Blatche needs a new place, and Al Jefferson is getting into a good place, all in today's Shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore

So while the Union's suing and the Celtics are freaking out, Dwight Howard has come out and said that in regards to the new tech rules, "They want us to cut down on talking to the refs, as hard as that may be. We've adjusted to everything else that's put out there. So we'll adjust." That's right. The guy that watches cartoons, does funny voices, and is pretty much known as a big kid, he's the one who's being grown up about this. The world's gone mad. Dwight Howard is in a place where he can have perspective and Kevin Garnett is not. What is happening?

Marvel Comics is teaming up with ESPN and the NBA for a series of promotional spots . Does it bother anyone else how much the league is marketing towards the storyline of LeBron leaving Cleveland? Don't get me wrong, I've been softer on James than others because if you asked me if I wanted to go work somewhere nicer with two of my friends with a greater chance of success, I'd probably do it too. But rubbing Cleveland's nose in it constantly for marketing purposes and playing into their spurned response seems exploitive.

Monta Ellis is in a much better place emotionally and mentally. Why? Dude got married and his wife, a lady cop, has him in line. I can understand where Ellis is coming from, as I'm sure a lot of men can. You have your wilder 20's, jacking up shots and riding mopeds, and then you get married and that stuff gets thrown out. This would be better if she were a segway cop or something. Still, it's good to see Ellis in a better place.

Mike Wells of the Indy Star reports that both Dahntay Jones and Solomon Jones are on the block as the Pacers try and move for a big man.

TruthAboutIt.Net's Kyle Weidie is more concerned with Andre Blatche at the moment than Gilbert Arenas. Blatche boosted his stock immensely last year with some solid play on the blown-up Wizards. But he thinks of himself as a primary scoring threat, not as a complimentary piece, and has big chemistry issues. If they can get him on the market and get a good player to put next to Wall for him, they should move, and quickly.

Alvin Gentry is telling his team that if they want to be succesful this year, they're going to have to be a "GREAT" defensive team . This for a team that had a worse defensive rating than any of Mike D'Antoni's years. Even if you think Amar'e was the problem (and he wasn't), good luck with that, coach.

Sasha Vujacic suffered a concussion in practice and is out indefinitely. Perhaps he was confused on what being "unconscious" from the arc meant.

In case you missed it last night , you need to see John Wall destroying the Bucks in 40 secons. For real.

Mike D'Antoni called Anthony Randolph a "stat magnet. " If only that magnet wasn't similarly charged to that of a "high basketball IQ magnet" because Randolph seems to repel that idea. Many, Knicks fans especailly, hope this is the season that changes. He can be an absolute game-changer when his head's in the right place.

And finally, just a small basketball note. If you caught last night's Jazz game you saw this, but if you didn't, Al Jefferson looked really good. Even with an out-of-shape Deron Williams working with him, Jefferson was hitting from all over the floor and attacking the glass on both sides of the ball. Defensively he's still figuring the system out, but things are looking tremendously good for Utah's new acquisition.


Posted on: October 1, 2010 9:30 am
 

Shootaround 10.1.10: BIG

Teams that didn't win big, Philly's bigs need to come up big, and Jefferson just is big, all in today's Shootaround. Posted by Matt Moore

So we always debate the best championship teams. But what about the best teams that didn't win a title ? Dime took a look at those squads and added the 08-09 Cavs. It's hard to imagine that team holding up over time as we look back at Mo Williams' and Antawn Jamison's careers. The 2002 Sacramento Kings, though? That was a pretty great team. One objection? The 2007 Dallas Mavericks need to be on that list. Had the Mavericks not drawn the Warriors in the first round, it's hard to see how Cuban wouldn't be coveting his ring.

A Sonics fan tells Kings fans to pray , because the NBA doesn't care. It should be amended, though to "Pray, because the NBA doesn't care as long as you continually vote down measures for new stadiums. I'm not saying you should have to pay for new stadiums. I'm saying as long as you refeuse to, you open yourself up to getting Thunder'd. There's a reason Orlando fans are going to be enjoying the Amway Center this season while Sonics fans enjoy the Seahawks this fall.

A great feature on DeMarcus Cousins and his family history . There's so much talk about Cousins being a problem child, but he hasn't been in trouble since the tenth grade. I've never understood how a kid that hasn't had trouble in four years since he was a young teen is somehow a huge concern. Everyone's going to be regretting passing on Cousins when he and Reke are running the pick and roll for years.

The Daniel Orton era is pointing toward bustville. After being considered a reach to begin with, then getting worked over in Summer League, Orton will miss the entire preseason with a knee injury . Orton needs to spend time in the D-League, but the Magic almost never assign their players, which only increases the odds that Orton will flame out.

Speaking of big man injuries, Tiago Splitter tweaked his right leg yesterday (via Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears).

Sixers president Rod Thorn says their success is dependent on their bigs . Elton Brand is specifically pointed out in the excellent piece by SI's Chris Mannix, but Mareese Speights also needs to stay healthy and take steps into becoming a legit power forward. It's time for him to capitalize on that youthful potential and great per-minute numbers.

Take note of this. It may just be pillow talk. But Eric Spoelstra says that the unselfish play necessary to share the ball for the Heat is already there. That's really relevant for a team with such high usage. You need to be able to operate as an actual functioning offense so that you don't wind up looking like an All-Star team. You know. The kind that winds up with the ball off-court more than Anna Kournikova (remember her?).

International superstar Dirk Nowitzki? He's not so much a fan of the goaltending rule change being proposed .

Kobe's going to get some run in the international exhibition games . Because he's a freak of nature with no "off" button. There isn't another player who if they were at Bryant's level would wnat to play in these games with the injuries he's still recovering from. The man is more driven than any human being alive.

Al Jefferson may have showed up out of shape , but Jerry Sloan a. isn't pointing him out specifically in discussions of players being out of shape and b.) apparently doesn't look like he's out of shape . It'll be interesting to see how this plays out and if he gets off on a bad foot with Jerry Sloan. Patient fatherly figure that he is.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com