The last time I posted was February 2011 – during which I stated: “Jazzbasketball as we know it, has come to an end.” The events of the past 27 months have since proven that proclamation correct.
In that span, the Jazz under Ty Corbin have amassed a .494 winning percentage. They have exactly 1 playoff appearance in which they were convincingly swept and this past season they sacrificed long-term development yet still failed to accomplish their meager goal of simply qualifying for the postseason.
Which brings us to the present. The 2013 offseason is arguably the most critical in the past 25 years (because unlike 2003 following the retirement of John Stockton – the Jazz don’t have a head coach to bail out management mistakes with a Hall-Of-Fame coaching performance).
The Jazz are now in Year-4 of their Post-Deron rebuild and have yet to show any progress or concrete reason to believe they are on their way to being anything more than an average NBA team in the future. They still have 4 lottery picks under the age of 24, but in 2-3 years have yet to give them any significant responsibility to be more than simply role players.
201213 2013-14 is when those players should be thrust to the forefront to learn how to be a frontline NBA player. Either they take a solid step towards reaching their tantalizing potential or the Jazz realize they made mistakes in their acquisitions/drafting but are consequently in a position to rectify that error in a loaded 2014 Draft.
The only absurdity behind that plan is it is precisely what the Jazz should have done in the 2012-13 season when it was painfully obvious the ceiling was 8th-seed/1st-round fodder. Unfortunately, they went all-in with mediocre veteran players who (partially due to clueless coaching) pushed the talented (and in many ways more capable) younger players to the bench and completely failed their fatally flawed mission of reaching the playoffs. 2012-13 was a wasted season in a league where wasted time can waste potential.
The bright future the Jazz had 2 years ago with their under-22 “Core-4” is still present but dwindling. With Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors set to be restricted free agents in 2014, after 3 years of being muzzled they now have to show something significant this season for the Jazz to invest in both long-term.
Alec Burks and Enes Kanter will be eligible to sign extensions in 2014 and RFA’s in 2015. Smart teams realize they ultimately can’t keep a glut of young talented players. They will identify 2-3 they want to build around and then trade the rest before they are due extensions to improve their team while saving money (See Spurs trading George Hill for Kawhi Leonard, OKC trading Jeff Green for Kenderick Perkins). The Jazz have virtually eliminated much of that option by failing to develop the Core-4 into bonafide starters in their early years.
So to recap: Jazzbasketball has vanished, and a once bright future has partially eroded into a very murky present. Maybe the Jazz finally get it right. Maybe they finally build around the Core-4. Maybe the Core-4 can overcome years of suppression and fulfill their potential. Maybe they can awaken a Jazz fanbase that is so fed up many no longer care. Maybe Ty Corbin can become an average NBA head coach who can understand defense, handle rotations and manage end-of-game situations. Maybe. At this point, “maybe” is the best the Jazz can offer.