Utah Jazz Still Need to Implode And Rebuild
My generation never had its own Cold War. We didn't fear nuclear disasters and the prospect of being overrun by a supposed "evil-empire," no.
But take it from the Utah Jazz, who are in the midst of a nuclear fallout.
They need an atom bomb dropped squarely on the head of the franchise. They may continue to smile and use upbeat words like "will" and "time" in dire attempts to silence those critics that know just exactly who this Jazz team is.
That would be "pretenders" if you just joined the conversation.
A team that is at full capacity both salary and talent wise, is, right now, the fourth-best team in the Northwest Division.
Sure, the division has spiked in talent over the past few years. 21-17 isn't exactly something to be ashamed of, is it?
If you're a Jazz fan, then yes, it most certainly is.
Last summer, the Jazz front office saw a make-or-break for the future of the franchise. Carlos Boozer was supposed to hop in his sports car and blaze a trail out of town, and Mehmet Okur and Kyle Korver possibly doing the same.
Nothing happened. And by nothing, I mean, the players decided that guaranteed cashola is the most important thing.
Looking back on it now, would the Jazz be in better shape had those three guys opted out of their contracts and landed someplace else?
Well, it's hard to say yes or no, but 38 games into the season, a team that was an up-and-coming force a few years back has regressed epically.
Three games away from it being the halfway point of the season, the Jazz are four (count 'em) four games above .500.
Subjective fans will blame it on injuries. The Jazz "always" catch the injury bug, and the chemistry doesn't come on until later in the season.
Last time I checked, a seemingly younger, cheaper, and less-known Portland Trail Blazer team has lost, literally, almost everyone on their roster to injury at some point this season. Some being season-ending injuries.
I hate to play the grinch, but CJ Miles and Kyle Korver aren't exactly saviors of the franchise, let alone a crutch to hold onto in hopes of the leaf turning.
As it has been for the last two seasons, the front office is content with being good, but not great.
Content with seventh or eighth seed playoff appearances.
Content with being so conservative that they make Ann Coulter somewhat of a resemblance to a Kennedy.
Truth is, one of the strongest and most-loyal fan bases in the NBA heard enough before the season started.
When was the last time you saw EnergySolutions Arena half-empty?
Funny, fans can smell the bull#%&$ when they see it, and still, the front office is holding onto a thread of ambition that this team will become a Western Conference powerhouse overnight.
Recently, Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor said that the team's No. 1 priority is in fact not to shred payroll and dip itself under the luxury tax, but rather just "winning ball games."
O'Connor's platforms are as bad as his ability to draft decent players.
The team's chemistry is shot.
They will say no.
They will say, "Nah, man. We just need to win some games, play some defense, and we'll be ok."
But at what point do we all realize that the answering machine is on repeat?
We've heard this for the past two years, and for a team this young and talented to painfully regress as it has? Well, if you can't read the writing on the wall, then that's your prerogative.
Utah overpaid players that have certain ceilings in terms of their basketball prowess.
Deron Williams has no ceiling.
Boozer, Okur, Kirilenko, even youngsters like CJ Miles have ceilings.
Yeah, 2007 was magical, but this is the NBA. Teams will work tirelessly to become better year in and year out.
The Jazz have kept their same hand, hoping that it'll be a hand that could possibly win, but there's no guarantee.
No risk, no reward. In the meantime, Utah will continue to play down to the level of its opponents, break down behind closed doors and maybe, possibly make the playoffs and get bounced in the first round.
So much for the dream Larry H. Miller had.
There was to be a team in Utah that was a contender year in and year out. The only thing keeping the Jazz from contending is itself.
We can only wait and see how things play out. But there will be a time, I promise you that, when the likes of O'Connor and the front office will be stuck in six feet of mud.
And all we'll say is, I told you so.
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