The Jazz fans in Utah are singing the Blues this off-season. After a short playoff series ended an enigmatic season in Utah, nine Jazz players (Yes, nine) hit free agency in the next weeks – Seven of which are unrestricted.
Unrestricted: Morris Almond, Carlos Boozer, Jarron Collins, Brevin Knight, Kyle Korver, Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Price
Restricted: Paul Millsap and Kyrylo Fesenko
Probably the most unsettling thing for Jazz ownership and fans is the fact that Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Mehmet Okur actually opted-out of their contracts to become unrestricted.
However, this might not be that bad. Okay, okay losing Okur really hurts. His 17 ppg and 7.6 rebounds per game will be sorely missed. But Korver has virtually been replaced by Ronnie Brewer… and remember how Boozer came to Utah?
That’s right, he convinced Cleveland to let him out of his contract and make him an unrestricted free agent and in return he would negotiate in good faith a longer extension.
What did Boozer actually do? Stabbed Cleveland in the back by throwing good faith out the window and he signed immediately with Utah. So maybe it’s not terrible to have him leave. Plus, Paul Millsap proved to be a more than serviceable replacement when Boozer was injured.
Who is remaining in Utah?
Start with the positives. The Jazz will return a solid nucleus of Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer and Andre Kirilenko. The best part is that Deron Williams is still happy to play in Utah.
The departure of so many guys might give others a chance to take on more important roles in the system. Players like C.J. Miles and Kousta Koufos would get a chance to develop quickly and could turn into serious contributors.
Miles, for example, averaged 9.1 ppg last year and shot .356 from behind the arc in only 20 minutes of play a game.
If he’s given 10 more minutes a game, he could become a double digit scorer and fill the much needed gap in the outside shooting presence left by Korver.
Who should Utah re-sign?
For an initial note, I am operating under the assumption that Okur won’t resign here because he opted-out of his contract to become unrestricted.
Paul Millsap. Hands down. The Jazz have got to sign him to a long term deal. He’s young, talented and will blossom into a consistent Double-Double machine.
While it is definitely a stretch to call him Karl Malone, the budding combination of he and Deron Williams ought to add some excitement to Utah.
I would also resign Ronnie Price and Morris Almond, who are very young and haven’t been given much opportunity to contribute. Price is a lightening quick PG and could be a very serviceable back-up to D Williams.
The addition of these two to the back-court presence of Williams, Brewer and C.J. Miles should help fill the Jazz’s void for guard play.
How should Utah Draft?
Utah should draft for present needs, not for the future. With the amount of young players on their roster, they are poised for a bright future.
Utah has a gaping hole in the PF and C position. However, with a lack of serviceable big men in the draft, this concern might have to be addressed by signing outside free agents.
I would probably take the number 20 pick and draft someone with experience who can contribute immediately. Two names come to mind: UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough and Lousiville’s Terrence Williams.
Hansbrough would fit perfectly into the Jerry Sloan system and be a nice supplement to Millsap in the post. He’s had the experience in college to be able to step in on day 1 and contribute.
Plus, Hansbrough measured well in the Chicago Pre Draft Camp.
Terrence Williams reminds me a lot of Byron Russell – he’s incredibly athletic, has good size, and is a terrific defensive stopper. His ability to play the Point Forward would enable him to mesh well into the Sloan system also. He should contribute immediately
If he improves the consistency of his perimeter shot, he could be a steal this late in the draft. Williams would be the fifth serviceable guard on the Jazz roster and localize their needs in free agency to only C’s.
Any Additional Free Agent Needs?
Centers. If the Jazz can’t resign Okur, they need to hit the market. Kousta Koufos won’t cut it alone.
While there aren’t many great options, there are several Centers that would stop the bleeding.
Zaza Pachulia from the Hawks,
AndersonVarejaofrom the Cavs,
Jermaine O’neal from the Heat,
Marcin Gortat from the Magic,
Chris Anderson from the Nuggets.
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