As was first reported Tuesday morning by Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sacramento Kings were finalizing a buyout that would make former BYU star Jimmer Fredette a free agent. The former #10-overall pick has had a rough three seasons in Sacramento, suffering through inconsistent playing time and some underwhelming performances in his limited opportunities.
While Jimmer may never be the pure scorer (labeled by some in 2011 as a Jason Terry-type scorer) that he was projected to be, at-worst he’s still a pure shooter who can score – with career marks of 40.2% from behind the arc including 49.3% this season.
At age 25, there’s still time left for Jimmer to find his niche in this league and a good source of inspiration could come from the most accurate three-point shooter in NBA history – Steve Kerr.
Kerr was traded after his rookie season in Phoenix where he played in just 26 games. Over his next four seasons he averaged playing 59 games per season while seeing just 16 minutes of playing time. Then prior to the 1993-94 season he signed with the Bulls, where he became a nightly 22-25 minute per game backup and one of the greatest 3pt-shooters in NBA history. Following the breakup of the Bulls, Kerr latched onto the Spurs winning two championships in his final 5 years and single-handedly swinging the momentum Game 6 of the 2003 Western Conference Finals with a 4-4 three-point explosion that saw the Spurs rally from a double-digit deficit late in the 3rd-quarter as they closed the game on a 40-15 run.
Kerr was an incredibly smart player with underrated toughness who used guile and intelligence to overcome a lot of his physical deficiencies. Offensively he took advantage of the Bulls’ triangle offense to cover for his lack of off-the-bounce ability, which Jimmer possesses infinitely more of. Defensively Kerr routinely faced quicker, more athletic backup point guards who often had their way with him individually but could be minimized by Chicago’s outstanding team-defense. While the game today has become much more free-flowing and reliant upon lateral quickness, Jimmer is a better athlete than Kerr and a much, much better ball-handler and scorer off-the-bounce.
Some NBA players could play on 25 different teams and still find an 7th or 8th-man role they can contribute in. For Jimmer, the pool is a little smaller but it all comes down to fit. The key is finding a team that can pair Jimmer with an athletic, defensive wing to take on the opponents’ best perimeter scorer while taking full advantage of Jimmer as an off-the-bench three-point sniper to space the floor. Like a marriage, it may not be easy finding “the one” but sometimes it just takes certain people longer to find the right match.
For the remainder of this season I think Jimmer should go to any team that can offer him the best opportunity to play and showcase his ability on the court, with the mindset it will lead to an opportunity down the road where a particular team or coach envisions a role he can fill on a winning team in 2014-15.
Due to Fredette’s collegiate success at BYU, a potential Utah homecoming has sparked a lot of debate amongst Jazz fans. Due to Utah’s rebuilding situation and the disappointing fact that Alec Burks still can’t eclipse the 30-minute mark on a nightly basis, adding another wing (who would create a semi-media circus) doesn’t appear to be in the Jazz’s best interest at this time, even though Jimmer would present a clear upgrade over players 8-15 currently on Utah’s roster.
Furthermore, the Jazz also have a potentially scoring combo-guard in rookie Ian Clark who has played just 38 minutes this season. It would also appear to be in Utah’s best interests to completely evaluate the ability of the players buried on their bench before seeking outside help this late in the season.
Horace Grant Tidbit on Matt Harpring
Bill Simmons interviewed 17-year NBA veteran Horace Grant, a 4-time NBA champion and one of the 90’s toughest interior defenders recently in the Grantland studio. The entire 36-minute video was posted on Grantland’s Youtube channel and can be watched here.
Among the many topics covered, Simmons and Grant touched on the perks and value of being asked to provide veteran leadership in the twilight of a career, and Horace briefly mentions his relationship with current Jazz analyst Matt Harpring (and former Ute Micahel Doleac) during the 1998-99 season they spent in Orlando.
Simmons: “Jalen always has a joke about ‘Keep getting them checks’ in the last couple of years, where it’s like had a great career, finished it…but then those last couple those gravy train years…you had a couple of those, right? Those are fun years!”
Horace: “Great years, I mean no one expect anything out of you anymore and you just sit there and you go in and play your 5 or 10 minutes and you get that gravy check. “
Simmons: “Veteran in the clubhouse. Give the young guys advice. ‘Don’t do this, stay away from her, put the cards away.'”
Horace: “That’s all you do, you sit there and you go out and give your 6 fouls and you have a couple bears afterward and you go home (laughing)”
Simmons: “You must feel that there’s real value in [veteran leadership]”
Horace: “I’m a true believer in veteran leadership, you have guys come in right out of high school or one year of college or even two years of college – they need that good veteran leadership to tell them ‘what to do, what not to do, stay away from this, get your rest, get your sleep’ and a lot of kids in the past few years haven’t had that veteran leadership and they become hotheads.”
Simmons: “Give me an example of somebody you played with the last…I don’t know 5-6 years in Seattle or Orlando or wherever that you felt like some 21-22 year old whatever that you felt like ‘I’m having an impact on this guy.'”
Horace: “I would say, I had two rookies when I was in Orlando. Mark-uhh Matt Harpring and Michael Doleac.”
Horace: “Those were my two rookies…”
Simmons: “You took them under your wing?”
Horace (nodding): “Took them under my wing, and uhh just fantastic guys to this very day. And Mark Madsen with the Lakers.”
Simmons: “The Mad Dog.”
Horace: “The Mad Dog. I took him [Madsen] under my wing because great guy, and I didn’t want him to hurt me in practice (laughing). He was…he gave the Lakers every inch of energy that he had and that’s what they were asking of him for.”
Note: Horace Grant played the 50-game lockout shortened 1998-99 season in Orlando with Harpring and Doleac. averaging 8.9 points and 7.0 rebounds for the 33-17 Magic who finished tied for the best record in the East. Harpring appeared in all 50 games, averaging 8.2 points and 4.3 rebounds while Doleac put up 6.2 points/3.0 rebounds in 46 games. That summer the 33-year old Grant was traded to Seattle in a 5-player deal that allowed the Magic to acquire the draft rights to Corey Maggette.