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Tag:Al Jefferson
Posted on: September 30, 2010 9:41 am
 

Shootaround 9.30: D-Howard makes children's music

Posted by Royce Young
  • Dwight Howard has a children's CD coming out. The album is called "Shoot for the Stars" and some of the tracks on it include: "Whoop There It Is," "U Can't Touch This," "Banana Boat" and "ABC." I smell Grammy.
  • The trade rumors aren't bothering AK-47: "First of all, there's not much I can do," Kirilenko told the Deseret News. "Secondary, I don't really care what the people (are) thinking. My job is to play basketball, and it's as simple as that ... I don't really care about rumors," Kirilenko added. "I spoke with (Jazz general manager) Kevin (O'Connor) and Jerry (Sloan), and they said, 'Look, we don't have any intentions' ... So, I'd rather believe them than the rumors."
  • Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com: "At Doug Collins' request, Reggie Miller delivered a message to the 76ers on the second day of training camp Wednesday. As the NBA's all-time leader in made 3-pointers (2,560) and one of the best clutch shooters in league history before retiring in 2005, Miller would seem to have plenty of cache with today's players because of his on-court accomplishments. And he more than held their attention as he talked and demonstrated what he was saying, according to those in the gym at the time."
  • Jeff Pearlman of SI writes that he wants his kids to watch Eddy Curry so they won't be like him: "That's why, as Curry collects $11.3 million for sitting on the bench this season, I'll tell my kids all about him. "See that guy," I'll say. "The one in street clothes eating the hoagie. His name is Eddy Curry. He's young, he was wealthy, he's gifted -- and he's invisible."
Posted on: September 27, 2010 12:40 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 12:56 pm
 

D-Will tells Jefferson he'll make him an All-Star

Posted by Royce Young

Sometimes, what makes a good player great is his point guard. And really, isn't that the job of a good point guard? To make everyone better?

Steve Nash definitely did it with Amar'e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion. Chris Paul did it with Tyson Chandler and is doing it with David West. And Deron Williams did it with Carlos Boozer.

Now Williams has a new project. And he said he intends to turn new big man Al Jefferson into an All-Star. Jefferson, in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, said:
“D Williams is Batman. He’s Batman. He’s the captain. He’s the guy, you know. And I’m Robin. So I’m willing to do whatever. I’m not worried about jelling with him. I’m going to adjust to him. Whatever he needs me to do is going to be done. Because the first thing he said to me when I talked to him is, ‘I’m going to make you an All-Star.’ And when he said that to me, I believed him. He wasn’t just talking. He wasn’t just saying it because it sounded good. He really means that. And I’m not going to do nothing to mess that up. Whatever he wants me to do. I know he told me one thing, he was joking. He said I don’t really dunk a lot in the games. And so [he said], ‘If I throw you a sweet pass, you’re going to have to dunk it.’ And if he wants me to start dunking, I’ll dunk it.”
There's absolutely no doubt that's possible. A lot of making the All-Star team is how your actual team is doing. And the Jazz should be pretty good. Jefferson was in Minnesota on sub-20-win teams, playing mostly in obscurity. He's always had nice numbers and that was with Randy Foye, Jonny Flynn, Ramon Sessions and Sebastian Telfair setting him up. No disrespect to those guys, but they sure as heck aren't Deron Williams.

Health has always been the main hurdle for Jefferson. If he gets that and adds it to the fact he has an elite point guard dishing him the ball, he very well could be headed for an All-Star caliber year. The West is relatively thin with premier centers. Jefferson could establish himself at the top of the pile.

Posted on: September 24, 2010 1:32 am
 

Preseason Primer: Utah Jazz

Posted by Matt Moore
 
Losing your second best player to free agency should be the kind of thing that sets your franchise back coniderably (don't tell the Suns). But the Utah Jazz, the model of consistency in the NBA since Jerry Sloan took over back in the Paleozoic Era, they just keep plugging right along. Making smart, well-reasoned decisions have led them to replacing Carlos Boozer with Al Jefferson. The question is if they can pick up where they left off. And that's where we begin the latest of our Preseason Primers with the Utah Jazz.

Training camp site: Salt Lake City, Utah

Training camp starts: September 28th

Key additions: Al Jefferson (trade), Raja Bell (free agency), Francisco Elson (free agency)

Key subtractions: Carlos Boozer (free agency), Kyle Korver (free agency), Wesley Matthews (free agency), Kosta Koufos (traded)

Likely starting lineup: Deron Williams (PG), C.J. Miles (SG), Andrei Kirilenko (SF), Al Jefferson (PF), Mehmet Okur (C)

Player to watch: Paul Millsap. Al Jefferson was brought in to replace Carlos Boozer, after Paul Millsap was given a huge new contract to replace Boozer. Now that Jefferson has arrived, Millsap finds himself in one of two positions entering camp. He either needs to battle on the glass and play "big" enough to prove he can play in tandem with Jefferson, or he needs to detonate to a degree where Sloan has a legitimate quandray on his hands between the two. Under the right circumstances, either is possible, though neither is likely.


Chemistry quiz: This really all comes down to Jefferson. Deron Williams is still the floor general, and many of the Jazz players have been there for years. Jefferson faces tremendous pressure not only to make an impact immediately, but to work in tandem with Deron Williams and commit himself to Sloan's defensive principles. The Jazz aren't exactly a superstar-centric team, and Jefferson has to prove he can fit that model from the get-go.


Camp battles: Outside of the aforementioned Millsap-Jefferson rumble, shooting guard should be lively. Raja Bell has had enough time off to be completely healthy, but he's got a lot of miles on those wheels. C.J. Miles has a fresher set of treads, but he's also maddeningly inconsistent.

Injury issues:
Deron Williams was severely banged up at the end of last season, so keeping him in the best health possible is top priority. Mehmet Okur may or may not be available by start of the season, so that will be the biggest injury to keep an eye on. The Jazz have been banged up in general over the past few years, and that's before you factor in the knee problems of Al Jefferson. Keep the tape handy, trainer man.

Biggest strength: Versatility. The Jazz have the ability to get up the floor, to slow it down when need be, to work out of the post to an improved degree, and to hit from the perimeter. They play solid defense and can compete with anyone. Those elements shouldn't shift much with the new additions.

Glaring weakness: Cohesiveness. The Jazz have mostly had positive runs over the past six years, but the lows tend to be really low. Jerry Sloan will need to work with what is now a younger team to develop consistency. Additionally, while the Jazz have been very good, they've lacked a ceiling of great. That's the level they need to get to if they want to contend in the West.
Posted on: September 9, 2010 5:15 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2010 6:38 pm
 

Pop Quiz: How does Jefferson fit with the Jazz?

Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

How does Al Jefferson fit with the Jazz?


When Carlos Boozer departed for Chicago, the Jazz were facing a severe identity-search. Deron Williams may be the best point guard in the league (simmer down Chris Paul fans, I said "may"), but he can't do it alone. And even with Paul Millsap, the Jazz needed a legitimate post scorer. What they got, was a premier low-post scorer in the league in Al Jefferson.

Jefferson, who couldn't find a place in Minnesota (don't even get us started), is 25 years old, averaged 17.1 points and 9.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks last season. This in a season where he was coming back from significant knee surgery. Jefferson's offensive repertoire is extremely versatile, able to spot up, power-in, and comes with a drop-step hook that's a premium in today's NBA. He doesn't come without his question marks, though. Injury, defensive capability, and focus have all been listed as weaknesses on Jefferson. But that was in Boston and Minnesota. How does he fit with the Jazz?

Using Synergy Sports which provides us with in-depth stats of how players performed in certain sets, we can compare what Boozer did last season with the Jazz with what Jefferson did, and how the two overlap. For starters, Jefferson spent more time in isolation, just slightly. Boozer only spent 5.7% to Jefferson's 8% in ISO. Neither were very productive, scoring only .69 (Jefferson) and .67 (Boozer) respectively. Not surprising for post players, though. In the post, we see some surprising numbers. Boozer only played 21.5% of his overall scoring plays in the post (355 out of 1649). This is compared to Jefferson's 56.8% (772 out of 1358 total). Jefferson was also much more efficient, scoring .92 points per possession in the post to Boozers' not too shabby .79.

To take these numbers into context, it means that it's unlikely Jefferson will be taking over Boozer's role, so to speak. Boozer was strong, but not incredibly so in the post, Jefferson is very strong, and efficient. Another interesting aspect to consider, though, is that Boozer had a higher rate of shooting fouls drawn in the post. Boozer drew a shooting foul in the post 9% of the time to Jefferson's 7.4%. This helped even up the scoring percentage (percentage of possessions resulting in points) between Jefferson and Boozer (46.6% to 44.2%). Jefferson will need to draw more fouls in the post to duplicate Boozer's success there.

But if Jefferson is the stronger post player, it's in the pick and roll that we see where Jefferson will really have to adapt. Jefferson's likely to get a fair number of possessions in the post where he's comfortable. But in the pick and roll last season, Jefferson only wound up in a scoring situation off the P'n'R 6.4% of the time. This is compared to Boozer, who ran the pick and roll with Deron Williams to death, using it 13.5% of the time he was on the floor. Boozer was also hyper-efficient in this set, scoring 1.27 points per possession in the pick and roll, good for 11th best in the league. Jefferson on the other hand, shackled by either Kurt Rambis' triangle system, a lack of a solid point guard, or his own limitations, only ran the play 87 times total, and only had 1.02 points per possession, though that still ranked extremely well. With Deron Williams, Jefferson will need to duplicate or improve upon Boozer's performance if the Jazz want to not only meet their performance of the last few seasons, but exceed it. The area Jefferson will need to improve most upon in the P&R is turnovers.

Jefferson turned the ball over 12.6% of the time in that set, compared to just 5% for Boozer. That's a lot of opportunities that Jefferson left on the floor. Part of that will improve considerably with Deron Williams as his point guard. But Jefferson will have to know where he's at in the play and how to finish, and that may take time to learn in a new system, especially given how little he ran it last season. He'll also want to improve on drawing fouls, where Boozer was better at 10.4% to 8% for Jefferson in percentage of shooting fouls drawn. Some of that comes with better teammates creating opportunities down low, and some of it comes with being more aggressively moving towards the rim in that set.

Another surprising differential was what Boozer did off the cut. Boozer often received the benefit of the Jazz' cut plays, using cuts 364 times for scores for 22% of the time. Jefferson only ran off-cut 6.8% of the time. Both were very efficient in this set though, with Boozer scoring 1.29 points per possession to Jefferson's 1.26. This looks like an area that could really benefit Jefferson, if his body and knees are able to execute it properly.

Outside of what Utah did, Jefferson is able to bring some things he's a beast at. Specifically, scoring off of offensive rebounds. Jefferson and Boozer were nearly identical in their offensive rebounding performance. Jefferson had an offensive rebound rate  (percentage of all available offensive rebounds snagged) of 8.0%, and Boozer finished just slightly ahead at 8.2%. But in terms of scoring off of those rebounds, Jefferson is, quite simply, elite. Boozer is no slouch, scoring 1.16 points per possession off captured caroms. But Jefferson scored a stunning 1.41 points per possession of his 111 attempts. Once again, we see that Boozer was better at drawing fouls, though, getting to the stripe 11.3% of the time underneath versus only 5.4% for Jefferson. (In case you were wondering, neither were great at getting and-ones here, with Boozer only nailing the shot and drawing the foul three times, to Jefferson's 4). Jefferson managed to score 70.3% of the time when he grabbed an offensive rebound. That's stunning stuff. The Jazz have had troubles with being tough down low. Jefferson looks like he'll improve that area offensively immediately.

Of course, offense is only half the battle, and most cliche artists will tell you it's the lesser half. Defensively is where Boozer really looks like the better player. Boozer, being slighter, took on more isolation players, and held them to only a .7 points per possession mark. Jefferson, on the other hand, spent only 54 plays on defense in ISO situations, ending up with a .98 PPP mark. In the post, where we saw Jefferson was strongest offensively, Boozer was still the better player. Boozer used his length and savvy to harass opponents into a .88 PPP mark. Not elite, but not shabby. Jefferson wasn't far behind however. Jefferson allowed a .92 PPP mark, and only gave up a shooting foul 8.5% of the time, to Boozer's 14.8%. This helped even the gap, and the two finished remarkably close to one another in scoring percentage allowed in the post, with Jefferson slightly ahead (45.8% for Al to 45.9% for Boozer).

What does this mean? It means that in a better defensive system, Jefferson could not only not be the weak link, but could also be an improvement. In a bizarre development, both players defended the pick and roll man only 8% of the time. The results, however, indicate that Jefferson has a ways to go. Jefferson allowed a .95 PPP with a 46.2% scoring percentage. This is in contrast to Boozer, who allowed only .79 PPP and a 37.7% scoring percentage. Boozer did foul more in this situation, which is indicative of Sloan's system which is more likely to foul than allow easy layups or dunks.

All of this gives us a picture of what the Jazz will look like on the floor. If Jefferson is able to maintain his efficiency and burly nature down low on the offensive end while improving in the pick and roll, the Jazz offense will have a pair of beasts for Deron Williams to work with, and it may take a considerable amount of pressure off Mehmet Okur so he can do what he does best, shoot from the outside. The Jazz offense might wind up with better numbers than it had with Boozer. Defensively will be the issue, and head coach Jerry Sloan will need to work with Jefferson on where he needs to be and applying pressure. In an offensively loaded Western Conference, the Jazz have to be able to slug it out or they'll wind up in the same position many teams have found themselves. Able to bring their guns to the fight but without any protection from their opponents' weapons.

Next to Deron Williams, this could be one of the biggest surprises of the season. We've said for years that Jefferson just needs a chance to show what he can do. He's got that opportunity, now. The question will be if he can step up like Boozer has, and if he can bring the toughness Utah desperately needs.

Oh, yeah, and he needs to stay healthy. That too.


Posted on: September 7, 2010 2:52 pm
 

Pop Quiz: How will the All-Star Game look?

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...



What will the All-Star Game look like?


Los Angeles. City of Angels. Home of the back-to-back NBA champions, the legendary LA Lakers. And in February, home of the 2011 NBA All-Star Game. It's going to be ridiculous, it's going to be over-the-top (more so than even your normal All-Star Game). It's going to be expensive. Really, really expensive. It will also be interesting as next year there are likely to be big changes in the All-Star Game. So what exactly is that game going to look like?

It's difficult to predict, obviously, who will be participating in the game. Even more so than any other episode of predicting the future, there are so many factors that can play into who makes it. Not only things like injuries, team downturns, unexpected rises, and trades, but the popularity contest of the voting system. But there are some things we can examine the possibility of.

For starters, with Amar'e Stoudemire headed to New York, there's a spot down low for the West. You can slide in Tim Duncan, because he's like Johnny Cash. Steady like a freight train, sharp like a razor. Pau Gasol's another lock, as many think he's the best power forward in the league right no w. From there, you've got Zach Randolph and Chris Kaman as the other two bigs from last year's squad. Kaman's unlikely to return with the addition of Blake Griffin, and Randolph's success is tied to an inconsistent Grizzlies team. Meanwhile, Yao Ming returns from injury and will most likely look like a legitimate contender for the starting spot.

But what about Andrew Bynum? We've been waiting for Bynum to live up to his potential for three seasons, and he's constantly referred to as one of the best centers in the league, despite his numerous injury issues. With the Lakers getting older, and Bynum supposedly healthier than he has been in years, Bynum has to be considered a strong contender not just for the backup position, but possibly as a starting center (which would put Tim Duncan at power forward, where he belongs).

Speaking of Duncan, he and Dirk Nowitzki are headed down the stretch and it'll be important to note that one of them is going to take a step backwards. Age demands it. And though Duncan is widely considered the best power forward of all time by those that consider him a power forward, he's most likely to have the dropoff. You saw it at times last season. The writing isn't on the wall, but there's a pen by the chalkboard. Bear in mind we're talking about inches below the greatness he's always provided, but it might be enough with a rising Bynum to shove either him or Dirk out of the starting lineup. And that will just be weird.

This is all before we start trying to figure out the point guards in the West. Steve Nash showing no signs of slowing down. Chris Paul back to full health. Deron Williams healthy with Al Jefferson beside him and more of the offensive load. Tyreke Evans, out of the rookie well and into the general pool. Russell Westbrook, possibly coming on as one of the better slide and dice guards in the league on a team that looks poised to make a run. Stephoe Curry, a rookie of the year runner-up with another season under him and a license to score. This likely means Jason Kidd will not be returning to the team for the 11th time in his career.

And oh, yeah, Kobe will be back in the starting spot. No "probably." He will be.

In the East? Well, the Miami Triad was formed from guys in the East, so they're likely to stay. Even with a downturn in production from sharing the ball, all three should be locks, though it's hard to see Bosh making the starting spot as he was a reserve last season. Amar'e Stoudemire could wind up knocking Kevin Garnett out of the starting spot which would be another changing of the guard. But a more likely scenario is Joe Johnson being unable to reach the starting spot again and moving into the reserve spot as the East looks like the West from last year: four bigs and a guard (Dwyane Wade). Which will be disappointing considering Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo's existence, both of whom are probable to return as starters.

Carlos Boozer, freed from the big-heavy West, may be able to work his way into a spot, and Paul Pierce may be on the bubble. If Andrew Bogut returns healthy, he could complicate matters, along with Brandon Jennings. Basically, point guards are going to massively complicate these rosters.

Sure, some of these players are going to go down to injury, others will have downturn seasons. But there's a strong indication that this might be a year of big changes in the All-Star Game, both with starting rosters and the reserve spots.

But the parties will be awesome regardless.
Posted on: July 29, 2010 1:59 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2010 1:57 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Northwest Division

Posted by Royce Young



The Northwest Division has become one of the best and most competitive divisions in the league. There's rising teams, star power, a traditional great and then there's the Timberwolves. Regardless, it's a fairly fascinating groups of teams that all had quite different summers.

Utah Jazz

Added : Al Jefferson (trade), Raja Bell (free agency), Gordon Hayward (draft)
Lost : Kyle Korver (free agency), Ronnie Brewer (free agency), Carlos Boozer (free agency), Wesley Matthews

Philosophy : "Keep on keepin' on."

Lose one star player, replace him with another. It's just how this Jazz train keeps on a'rollin'. Utah scored Al Jefferson for relatively nothing and he replaces the exported Carlos Boozer quite well. The Jazz love that pick and roll and Jefferson should be able to team with Deron Williams to keep it at a high level. They also signed Raja Bell who is a pesky defensive player. However, losing Wesley Matthews stings a bit just because he was a rookie last year and appears to have a promising future ahead. But Utah just didn't want to pay the price tag to keep him.

Drafting Gordon Hayward certainly helps as he'll look to fill some of the void left by Matthews and Kyle Korver who signed with Chicago. This offseason was more of just scrambling to maintain in Utah and with the Jefferson deal, it looks like it should do that. A lot depends on the progression of Hayward because he'll see meaningful minutes, but the Jazz didn't let a mass exodus to Chicago burn down their walls.

Grade : B

Denver Nuggets

Added : Al Harrington (free agency), Shelden Williams (free agency), Brian Butch (free agency), George Karl's returned good health (hopefully)
Lost : Johan Petro (free agency), Malik Allen (free agency), Joey Graham (free agency)

Philosophy : "Staying good, but not great."

Denver is a team that feels like it's a piece away. Just one player to push them over the edge from good, competitive playoff team to great, actual contender team. So they signed Al Harrington. Is he that piece? Eh...

The reality is the Nuggets will be good. Their starting five has Chauncey Billups, Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Harrington and Nene. That's pretty darn solid. Then instant offense with J.R. Smith off the bench, defense in Chris Andersen and quality players in Kenyon Martin and Ty Lawson. That's a pretty stout roster. But is that really good enough? This is clearly a 50-win team and it's destined for a top five seed in the West. But can it get to the Western Finals, which of course is the goal for a squad of this caliber? Again, eh...

Grade : C+

Portland Trail Blazers

Added : Luke Babbitt (draft), Eliot Williams (draft), Wesley Matthews (free agency), Marcus Camby (re-signed)
Lost : Martell Webster (trade), Juwan Howard (free agency), Travis Diener (free agency),

Philosophy : "Get right."

If there was a goal for the Blazers this offseason, it was simple. It wasn't to sign a big name or move up in the draft. It wasn't to restructure or make a big trade. It was just to get healthy.

Nobody dealt with the adversity Portland did last year. Greg Oden. Joel Pryzbilla. Brandon Roy. Nic Batum. Rudy Fernandez. All of those players missed at least some significant time because of an injury. And yet, the Blazers won 50 games and made the playoffs. That's... impressive.

But Portland didn't sit on its hands this summer. The Blazers re-signed Marcus Camby, who was huge for them down the stretch. The traded Martell Webster to grab Luke Babbitt, an extremely promising and gifted forward from Nevada. They inked Wesley Matthews to a big deal, who is someone that will give them a little scoring insurance and wing defender help. The turned over the front office and hopefully remedied any tense situations between ownership and management. Now there are talks they'll lose Fernandez who sees the logjam in the backcourt in Portland, but Matthews and Williams are worth replacements.

All in all, not a bad offseason for the Blazers. Is it enough to push ahead in the West? That depends on the factors that snuck up and bit them last year: health.

Grade : B+

Oklahoma City Thunder

Added : Cole Aldrich (trade/draft), Morris Peterson (trade), Royal Ivey (free agency), Daequan Cook (trade), Kevin Durant (contract extension)
Lost : Kevin Ollie (retirement), Etan Thomas (free agency), Kyle Weaver (waived)

Philosophy : "If you think it's good now, just wait until we grow up."

Most saw the Thunder's cap space and expected something. Something big. Something grand to take them from up-and-comer to favorite in the West. Maybe go grab Chris Bosh. Maybe make a run at Amar'e Stoudemire. Maybe flag down Carlos Boozer. Instead, Oklahoma City did what it does best: stuck to the plan.

Rather than blowing its extra cap room, OKC deferred to utilizing its assets to move up in the draft and fill a need from the ground up. This is a franchise that is absolutely committed to the long term and to player development. Most agreed the Thunder needed an tough, physical inside prescence to defend the paint and rebound. So what did they do? They went and got the best player at those two things in the draft in Cole Aldrich.

Another underrated move from OKC was acquiring Daequan Cook from Miami. The Heat were looking to dump any contract player to anyone to make room for basketball free agency apocolypse, so the Thunder got a former 3-point champ and shooting specialist at a discount price of a single second-round pick.

Oh, and one other thing: They signed Kevin Durant to a five-year extension. I'd say in terms of what the Thunder's goals were before the summer started and how it finished, they'd say mission accomplished.

Grade : B+

Minnesota Timberwolves

Added : Darko Milicic (re-signed), Michael Beasley (trade), Luke Ridnour (free agency), Delonte West (trade), Sebastian Telfair (trade), Lazar Hayward (draft), Kosta Koufos (trade), Martell Webster (trade), Wesley Johnson (draft),
Lost : Ramon Sessions (trade), Ryan Hollins (trade), Al Jefferson (trade), Delonte West (waived), Ryan Gomes (free agency), Damien Wilkins (free agency), Sasha Pavlovic (free agency), Brian Cardinal (free agency), Alando Tucket (waived), what remaining respect David Kahn had from media and fans of the NBA

Philosophy : "..."

Honestly, you know what David Kahn reminds me of a bit? Someone that likes playing fantasy football just so he can call other players, offer up deals, trade players and sign others off waivers. Sometimes it seems like Kahn makes moves just for the sake of not getting bored.

No one can determine a real plan from here. My best guess at what he's doing is trying to put together a roster Ricky Rubio likes and then build a team around that. That's all I can figure. They have a bunch of draft picks and some cap space, but those things aren't great when the man in charge doesn't know what to do with it.

What exactly is going on there though? What's the point of signing Sessions and then signing Ridnour just to trade Sessions? I don't get it. Basically Kahn traded a player he signed for $16 million for Sebastian Telfair. Huh? Then of course the Darko deal. What? Then drafting Wesley Johnson only to bring in a player via trade in Webster that plays the same position. Come again? Then trading Al Jefferson, the face of your franchise, for a couple draft picks. Excuse me?

There's just no rhyme or reason to all this right now. I have no idea what to grade it because I have no idea what the questions even are. Did they get better? I don't know. Did they get worse? I don't really know. Did they set themselves up for the future? I have no idea.

If Sam Presti and Daryl Morey are playing chess and everyone else is playing checkers, right now it looks like everyone else is playing checkers and David Kahn is playing duck-duck-goose.

Grade : D-
Posted on: July 13, 2010 5:39 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2010 10:14 pm
 

The other side: Utah snags Jefferson

Posted by Royce Young

Quietly, the Jazz are building.

Building a championship contender? To be determined. Building a quality, in-the-mix team in the West? Absolutely.

Yeah, yeah, Utah lost Kyle Korver and Carlos Boozer to other teams in free agency. Yes, Wesley Matthews may be playing in Portland next year. But the Jazz may already have Matthews' replacement lined up in Ronnie Brewer. And it appears they have Boozer's in Al Jefferson.

Can Jefferson replace the All-Star Boozer? I suppose that's yet to be determined. But Jefferson is an actual center more than Boozer who was a four that often masqueraded as a five, while Mehmet Okur hovered around the 3-point line.

Coming off a second knee injury, Jefferson managed a quality season of averaging 17.1 ppg and 9.3 rpg. Boozer went for 19.5 and 11.2 last season. Having Jefferson allows Utah to move Paul Millsap into the starting lineup, something the Jazz clearly kept him around to potentially do when they matched Portland's four-year, $32 million offer.

Now with Jefferson, Utah has a more complete starting five. Deron Williams at point guard. Ronnie Brewer/Wesley Matthews off the ball. C.J. Miles playing small forward. Millsap at power forward with Jefferson teaming inside with him at the five. That's a pretty stout group. Especially when you think about Jefferson playing with Williams. If you can't see Jerry Sloan's mechanical pick and roll offense flowing beautifully between those two, you're probably a Nuggets' fan having nightmares about it.

And you know who Utah matches up much better with now? That team in purple and gold.

This all hinges on Jefferson continuing to heal and regain his form. Again, it's not like he was bad last year. Heck, he played in over 70 games. Though it was pretty obvious that he wore down late in the season, with another summer of conditioning and rehab, one should expect him to return to his old, dominant post-playing self.

And if he does, look out. I'm not saying Williams to Jefferson is the new Stockton to Malone, but it's certainly not that far off.

Posted on: July 12, 2010 10:07 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 10:43 pm
 

Report: Utah nearing deal for Jefferson (Updated)

Posted by Royce Young

UPDATE : Based on this tweet from Jazz CEO Greg Miller, I'm assuming the deal is done.

Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports that the Utah Jazz have emerged as the front-runner for Minnesota big man Al Jefferson. Originally, the Mavericks were thought to be in the lead, but Utah's cap situation obviously has improved with the subtractions of Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver due to free agency.

As Stein says, Jefferson's contract would slide into the $14 million trade exception that Utah created earlier this week in its sign-and-trade deal with Boozer.

As mentioned when Dallas was in play for Jefferson , the Wolves are looking for quality assets and not necessarily just a salary dump, though Minnesota would prefer not to take much back.

If the deal goes through, clearly the Jazz re-emerge as a major contender in the West. Jefferson still hasn't entirely recovered from a second knee injury, but the Minnesota big man is just 25 and averaged 17-9 last season for the Wolves. Team him with Paul Millsap inside with Deron Williams setting things up and you've got a quality roster.

Also, as is with any deal involving Minnesota, KAAAAHHHHNNN.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com