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Orlando Pro Summer League 2013

The Utah Jazz fell to the Indiana Pacers 79-73 Thursday in their next-to-last summer league game. The loss knocked them out of contention for first or second place in the Orlando Pro Summer League. The Jazz will again face the Pacers in the 3rd/4th-place game.

Rudy Gobert 11 Points, 8 Rebounds & 3 Blocks

Trey Burke Highlights vs Pacers

Raul Neto Highlights vs Pacers

Jeremy Evans Highlights vs Pacers

Jerel McNeal Highlights vs Pacers

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The Jazz’s final summer league game is Friday at 10AM ET/8AM MT.

2013 Jazz Summer League Schedule
7/7 – Sun – Miami (W – 6 points)
7/9 – Tue – Houston (L – 1 point)
7/10 – Wed – Brooklyn – (W – 7 points)
7/11 – Thu – Indiana – (L – 2 points)
7/12 – Fri – Indiana – 10:00AM ET/8:00AM MT

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Raul Neto - Utah Jazz 2013 Summer League

The Jazz rebounded from Tuesday’s loss with a complete domination of the Brooklyn Nets, winning 98-69 to go along with a 4-quarter sweep to gain a maximum 7-points in the Orlando Pro Summer League standings.

Raul Neto 7 Points & 3 Assists

Raul Neto’s first summer league action should be considered a success, as the 21-year old rookie displayed an impressive skillset and overall feel for the game. He showed good vision as well as an impressive handle which he used to probe and get in the paint as well as a crafty split of defenders in a backcourt trap that he concluded with an alley-oop. The highlight of the day was Neto’s cross-over and scoop shot over 6-11 center Keith Benson. Obviously there’s a big adjustment to playing point guard in summer league and in the regular season – but Wednesday was definitely a promising debut performance for Neto.

Jeremy Evans 15 Points & 9 Rebounds

Jeremy Evans showed off more of his complete game – starting off with a face-up baseline jumper to go along with his “routine” displays of ridiculous athleticism around the basket. His final basket of the day – a layup off a nice high screen-roll feed from Jerel McNeal in which Evans finished through contact – is the types of “basketball plays” he needs to make to earn a more consistent role for the Jazz.

Alec Burks 14 Points

Power-Outage: Electricity vs Natural Light

And with 0.6 seconds remaining, Trey Burke somebody shut off the lights at the Magic’s practice facility.

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The Jazz’s next game is Thursday versus the Indiana Pacers.

2013 Jazz Summer League Schedule
7/7 – Sun – Miami (W – 6 points)
7/9 – Tue – Houston (L – 1 point)
7/10 – Wed – Brooklyn – (W – 7 points)
7/11 – Thu – Indiana – 11:00 AM ET/9:00 AM MT
7/12 – Fri – TBA

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The Jazz struggled in their second game of the Orlando Pro Summer League, falling 85-71 to the Houston Rockets and losing 3 of the 4 quarters. Here are individual highlights from Utah’s most prominent players:

Trey Burke 11 Points & 2 Assists

Burke once again struggled shooting but he did improve his overall percentages from Sunday and made several plays that once again exhibited his tantalizing potential. He was at his best in high-screen roll with a pull-up jumper and then a brilliant split and lob pass to Jeremy Evans amongst his most impressive plays.

Alec Burks 18 Points

Burks led Utah in scoring with 18 points, and although he also struggled shooting just 5-15 – his aggressiveness earned him 9 free throw attempts in which he converted 8. A main problem of Burks was as the Jazz fell behind in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, Burks tried to take over the game rather than stick to Utah’s halfcourt offensive sets which weren’t having much success either against Houston’s ball pressure. As Burks began to press, he made some mistakes but overall nothing terribly to be concerned about.

Rudy Gobert 4 Points, 7 Rebounds & 2 Blocks

Gobert only took 3 shots from the field, but one was a surprising left-hand jump hook. Any offense from him outside of point-blank dunks and layups should be considered a bonus during his rookie season.

Jeremy Evans 10 Points, 8 Rebounds & 2 Blocks

Jeremy Evans showed off his hops with a spectacular block (off a great rotation against screen-roll) and an awesome rebound in which he head neared rim-level. He also hit a nice pick&pop baseline jumper off a pass from Alec Burks.

Michael Stockton Three-Pointer

Michael Stockton scored 7 points and his only FG as an open three he drained from the left wing. He remains a long shot to make the Jazz roster but even in 2013 – watching a Stockton three pointer never gets old.

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The Jazz are back in action Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets.

2013 Jazz Summer League Schedule
7/7 – Sun – Miami (W – 6 points)
7/9 – Tue – Houston (L – 1 point)
7/10 – Wed – Brooklyn – 11:00 AM ET/9:00 AM MT
7/11 – Thu – Indiana – 11:00 AM ET/9:00 AM MT
7/12 – Fri – TBA

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Jazz vs Heat - Summer League - 7-7-13

The first glimpses of the 2013-14 Utah Jazz appeared as the Orlando Pro Summer League tipped off Sunday. Utah’s 69-59 victory over the Miami Heat featured growing pains (Trey Burke 1-12 shooting), physical pains (Alec Burks twisted ankle), but also several promising moments. While summer league isn’t a great indicator for regular season performance, basketball is basketball and here are some of the yesterday’s Jazz higlights.

Alec Burks 10 points

Burks had a terrific 2012 summer league and was clearly the best player on the floor during his 11 minutes of playing time before he left with a twisted left ankle that didn’t appear serious but will likely be dealt with conservatively. From all of Burks’ polished scoring moves, I particularly liked the catch&shoot open three from the left wing – which was created by high screen-roll between Burke&Gobert.

Trey Burke back-to-back drive&dishes for dunks

Burke struggled shooting from the floor but never lost his confidence (he seldom allowed a poor shooting performance to alter his play at Michigan either) and finished the game with two spectacular assists to Rudy Gobert and Jeremy Evans who capitalized with thunderous dunks.

Rudy Gobert 6 points & 3 blocks

Gobert’s statline of 6 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks don’t tell the full impact of his play. He also altered a handful of other shots and displayed an impressive ability to show out on high screen-roll and then recover.

Dionte Christmas 14 points

Christmas came in July as the 26-year old shooting guard out of Temple played the best floor game out of anyone. Christmas scored a team-high 14 points on 6-10 shooting from the floor and 2-4 shooting from behind the arc. He also added 5 rebounds and 3 assists – two of which led to dunks.

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2013 Jazz Summer League Schedule
7/7 – Sun – Miami (W – 6 points)
7/9 – Tue – Houston – 3:00 PM ET/1:00 PM MT
7/10 – Wed – Brooklyn – 11:00 AM ET/9:00 AM MT
7/11 – Thu – Indiana – 11:00 AM ET/9:00 AM MT
7/12 – Fri – TBA

All games will be televised on NBATV.

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Jazz Warrios 2013 NBA Trade #2

Imagine it’s Friday and you just got you paycheck (and let’s pretend everyone doesn’t use direct-deposit). You pay the bills and you have money left-over. What do you do with it? Put it in the bank to safely earn minimal interest? Blow it on a fun night out? Or spend it all on lottery tickets? (Let’s also pretend you live in one of the 44 states that has a state-run lottery system). In yesterday’s Golden State-Utah trade, the Jazz essentially blew a year’s worth of spending-money on lottery tickets.

The Jazz could’ve taken the safe route – re-signed Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll for reasonable amounts and reaped the benefits and peace of mind with their effort and steady production. The Jazz could’ve taken the short-sighted “fun route” and gone after other free agents who might fill out the 2013-14 roster better but do little long-term. Ultimately the Jazz decided to invest heavily in the exciting unknown of “lottery tickets.”

Jazz Warriors NBA 2013 Trade 2

With the Warriors retaining their two most tradeable assets (Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson) as well as utilizing their available cap room to sign Andre Iguodala – G.S.’s 2014 1st-round pick figures to be in the 20’s. As we were reminded again from the 2013 draft (Rudy Gobert), a late 1st-round pick can be easily acquired for $3 million in cash.

The Jazz are essentially banking on two seemingly dubious scenarios. Either that they’ll be able to roll their 2013 cap room into something remarkable in 2014 (despite the facts that the Jazz struck out with big name FA’s in 2013 and that the 2014 FA class is dependent upon 3-4 superstars exercising ETO’s) or that Golden State will have a terrible season – with Stephen Curry’s durability the main focus point. The latter scenario also seems unlikely, given the fact that aside from the 2012-13 lockout season (which Golden State intentionally tanked) Curry has averaged playing 77.3 games in his other three seasons.

While it’s possible the Jazz could hit a homerun in 2014 free agency or with a Golden State draft pick to make this deal a homerun in retrospect, the odds certainly don’t appear significant and gambling a year’s worth of flexibility for a low-percentage wager is not sound business practice in my opinion.

As Kevin Pelton states, “$24 million in contracts is a remarkable amount to swallow, and the return for that seems relatively paltry.” This point is only further emphasized at previous salary-for-draft pick trades, ranging from the Ben Gordon trade – (courtesy of @Peter_J_Novak) to just over 3 years ago when Utah was forced to part with their 20th-overall pick – rookie Eric Maynor – to clear only a $6.5 million expiring contract off the books.

As I wrote two montsh ago, I fully support the concept of utilizing cap space to acquire future assets. Blowing the entirety of it only for 2 future Golden State picks seems incredibly risky – especially when you factor in the auxiliary factors.

Collateral Damage
The result of Utah taking on $24 million in salary meant the Jazz were forced to renounce their FA rights to PF Paul Millsap. It also created a glut of wings that forced SF and fan-favorite DeMarre Carroll (who was clearly rewarded for his loyalty and dedication to Utah) out.

Less than 8 hours after details of the trade emerged, Millsap and Carroll both signed with the Atlanta Hawks for bargain 2-year $19 million and 2-year $5 million deals, respectively. When you consider the collateral damage from the trade, it really looks like this:
Jazz Warriors NBA 2013 Trade 1

The premise that re-signing Paul Millsap would have negated Utah’s 2014 cap-space is untrue. As it stands, Utah could’ve allotted $25 million to extensions for Hayward and Favors, paid Millsap $9.5 million and even after factoring in the salaries for Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Enes Kanter and Jeremy Evans, still would’ve had $12 million in capspace (assuming the cap stayed at 2013 levels rather than it’s expected increase).

As I mentioned earlier this week, Millsap could’ve easily fit into a 3-man big rotation that allowed Favors and Kanter to flourish while giving Millsap his customary 28-32 minutes. Unfortunately, they let the Hawks get an absolute bargain – 2 years $19 million to pair Al Horford up with a guy who does this:

The overstated plus-side is the Jazz will now undoubtedly rely on the Core-4 of Hayward/Burks/Favors/Kanter to finally assume larger roles (although that could also have been accomplished with Millsap and DeMarre in tow), cutting ties with virtually all of their prominent starters from 2012-13. The fact that they centered their 2012-13 team around Jefferson and Millsap – only to lose both without any compensation pushes their current decision-making further into question.

Losing Millsap to Atlanta for nothing is in stark contrast to how the San Antonio Spurs have handled their business throughout the years. Even though they had George Hill – who like Millsap was a coach and fan favorite – they recognized Hill played a position of strength and was due an extension in a year. Therefore they traded Hill to the Pacers for the draft rights to Kawhi Leonard – addressing a position of need in both a long-term and cost-efficient way.

Conversely, the Jazz kept Millsap and got nothing. Yes they got “cap space” but they could’ve traded Millsap in early 2012 for a comparable player on a 2-year deal or a lesser player on a 1-year deal that would have netted them the same future cap space, freed up playing time for Favors and Kanter, and likely still picked up a future draft pick in the process. The Jazz emphasized they wanted flexibility in 2013 and they simply rolled that over into 2014 – no differently than acquiring a 2-year deal accompanied with future assets in 2012 would have done.

Yesterday the Jazz didn’t thrust their “young guys” to the forefront because after the failures of the 2012-13 season – they already were there. The only thing Utah did was gamble sure-fire production and short-term flexibility on prospective assets and future flexibility that may be terrific, may be average, or may be mediocre. That’s a lot of “maybes” for a move that also marginalized immediate success. The Jazz enter 2013-14 with basically their five core lottery picks, a mediocre head coach and very little bench.

I truly feel the Core-4 along with Trey Burke in their first seasons as starters – coupled with 2-3 solid complimentary veterans (like Millsap and DeMarre) could contend for the playoffs. If the Jazz believe in their Core-5 to a similar extent – they should surround them with a few complementary veterans to offer needed support to help them win games. If the Jazz feel the opposite and are now suddenly willing to lose games to attain a high pick in the 2014 draft, it shows the hypocrisy of their holier-than-thou approach regarding tanking and the utter waste of time the 2012-13 season really was.

The Jazz have a lot to look forward to heading into next season. The chief complaint of mine is that they shot their 2013 offseason wad far too early, giving up too much for too many uncertainties. Only time will ultimately tell on this deal, but there are as many valid reasons to not like it as there are to like it.

With Utah’s summer league set to begin on Sunday, visions of the future will continue to blossom. It’s important to remember the real future of the Jazz revolves around Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Trey Burke and not the 2014 offseason. Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll could’ve been a part of that grouping as well, but they were sacrificed in the name of 2014 cap room. As we learned from the past year, expecting cap space to solve all our problems can be a mirage.

In addition to renewing the use of the Jazz’s “flexibility” and “caproom” buzzwords for another season, this trade allowed the optimism and imaginations of fans to run wild with grandiose dreams for the coming years. I’m obviously not ecstatic about the trade, but I understand why others are. After all, dreaming and hoping is why people buy lottery tickets in the first place.

Jazz Warriors 2013 NBA Trade

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Trey Burke Michigan The Journey

The Big Ten Network’s documentary-style show “The Journey” recently profiled Trey Burke and several other athletes leading up to and through the 2013 NBA Draft. Here are excerpts that include all segments featuring the Utah Jazz’s rookie point guard from the past two episodes – Michigan’s Trey Burke.

The Journey: Trey Burke – Pre-Draft

The Journey: Trey Burke – NBA Draft


“The Journey” is the BTN’s first original and highest rated series, documenting football and men’s basketball for the Big Ten Conference. The show offers behind-the-scenes access and insight and in 2010 was nominated for a Sports Emmy. Show information and airing times can be found here.

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Andrei Kirilenko Utah Jazz uniforms

Seeking a longer-term deal, last Saturday 32-year-old Andrei Kirilenko opted out of the final year of his deal with the Timberwolves (that was set to pay him $10.2 million in 2013-14) to become an unrestricted free agent.

Kirilenko spent the first 10 seasons of his NBA career with the Jazz before playing the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season for CSKA Moscow. He returned to the NBA last season with the Timberwolves, posting averages of 12.4 points and 5.7 rebounds (both were his highest since 2005-06) while shooting 50.7% from the floor.

Although he never lived up to the max-contract extension he signed in 2004, Kirilenko remains a fan-favorite in Utah and given the Jazz’s considerable capspace as well as their front office’s penchant for bringing back former players – it only seems logical that a return to the Jazz would be a possibility.

What He Brings:
At his very best (2003-2006), Kirilenko was a fill-in-the-blanks Swiss army knife who was one of the league’s most unique talents. At 6-9 with athleticism and long arms, he was a defensive monster who blocked shots and racked up steals all over the court with his incredible range. Offensively he was a creative playmaker and gifted passer who particularly excelled in the open-court. He could pass from the high-post or off the bounce and made energy and hustle plays that got his team extra possessions and denied his opponents easy baskets.

After consecutive seasons averaging over 3 blocks per game in 2004-05 and 2005-06, Kirilenko’s blocks have steadily declined in each subsequent season to a career-low 1.0 in 2012-13. At age 32, he’s no longer the disruptive defensive player he once was although he still has enough length and athleticism to be a solid defender and back-side shotblocker.

AK remains an above-average passer (particularly from the high-post), and also is still a sub par perimeter shooter (has only shot better than 34% on threes twice in career). Nevertheless with his length and skill he’s a double-figure scorer and on a team with an effective half-court offensive system – a high percentage FG shooter. Although he’s been a starter most of his career, during his final two seasons in Utah he willingly accepted an off-the-bench role.

How He Fits: At his age and cost, I would only ever consider signing Andrei Kirilenko in the event Paul Millsap signs elsewhere. As I wrote yesterday, I believe Paul Millsap should remain a part of Utah’s frontcourt rotation – even though he will command a higher salary than Kirilenko, as Millsap adds much more value to the Jazz than AK could at this point. That said, Millsap’s departure would leave Utah in need of a third bigman – a role Kirilenko could play due to his versatility. Although the “Kirilenko was an all-star because he played power forward” narrative is mostly untrue – for the first 32 games of the 2003-04 season AK did start at PF and was quite effective playing next to 7-2 Greg Ostertag (who took some of the interior pressure off Kirilenko’s slender build). The arrival of three quality bigs (Boozer, Okur, Millsap) negated AK’s ability to play the 4, but with two promising paint presences in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter – Kirilenko could easily fill-in as a backup PF, giving Utah a small-ball 4 that many of the league’s elite teams possess.

What He’s Worth: Kirilenko opted out of a $10.2 million salary because he prefers a contract that offers longer-term financial security. While his annual salary will likely take a hit, he could easily command something along the lines of a 3-year deal at somewhere between $6-8 million per year.

TrueHoop on Andrei Kirilenko July 1 2013

Prior to re-signing Tiago Splitter, the Spurs reportedly showed interest in Kirilenko. While it remains to be seen if that pursuit continues, I could also see AK signing with a capped out playoff team at their full mid-level exception.

Final Verdict: Kirilenko is one of my 10 favorite Jazz players of all-time. From all accounts he’s a great person and I’ve never faulted his effort or held the 6-year $86 million extension against him. With that said, he’s a 32-year old who has constantly battled injuries for pretty much the past 10 years. In his past 5 NBA seasons alone he’s missed an average of 17 games per season (by comparison Carlos Boozer has missed an average of 15 games the past 5 seasons) and given his age those numbers don’t figure to improve over the next 3 seasons.

Ultimately, the Jazz need to build their roster with the goal to achieve a 3-4 year upswing. Their goal should be to determine what they have (players and coaches included) this season followed by steady improvements in each of the next three seasons as they hopefully build towards becoming a contender. Kirilenko’s age and probably decline figures to offset that trend (as opposed to Millsap who is still only 28 and nowhere near the downside of his career). Were the Jazz a legitimate top-8 team now, adding Kirilenko would make sense, but at a considerable price tag he’s simply not what the Jazz need at this time.

The Andrei Kirilenko-era in Utah represented quality and entertaining basketball and for the most part was an enjoyable experience (certainly more fun than watching Josh Howard).  Even with a 2013-14 rotation featuring Burks, Hayward, Favors, Kanter, (and hopefully DeMarre Carroll) – Kirilenko’s abilities could fit in well. A year or two down the road however, his age and potential salary wouldn’t. In the short-term Kirilenko could help, but in the long-term he simply doesn’t mesh with Utah’s rebuilding process. After two years stuck in neutral, the Jazz are rebuilding and it’s time to finally embrace that process.

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Paul Millsap Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz’s 2013-14 frontcourt should unquestionably revolve around their two 21-year old former #3 picks – Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Nevertheless, with Jeremy Evans and rookie Rudy Gobert representing the only other bigs on Utah’s roster, that leaves a significant opening for a third bigman in their rotation.

Paul Millsap has filled that role in the past, and remains the most ideal candidate to do so again.

What He’s Done:
Following the departure of all-star Carlos Boozer in 2010, Millsap assumed the starting power forward position for the Jazz and has maintained it for the past 3 seasons. During that time, he’s had solid production featuring moments of brilliance and also games where his limitations (such as lack of size and getting worn-down as the season progresses) were on full display. During his 3 seasons as a starter Millsap averaged 16.1 pts, 7.8 reb, 2.5 ast, 1.5 stl, 0.9 blk in 32.5 minutes of play while shooting an efficient 51% from the field, 76% from the foul line and making 31% of the 93 three-pointers he attempted. Although his minutes have mildly declined in each of the past two seasons, his production has remained remarkably consistent on a per minute basis.

Paul Millsap Per 36

What He Brings:
Millsap came into the league as a high-energy rebounder and – although his rebounding rate has gone down as his range has extended – he remains a versatile 4 who can score both inside and out. He’s become a consistent mid-range jump shooter from all spots on the floor extending out to about 20-feet. Although he doesn’t possess a versatile back-to-the-basket game, he can post up smaller players by quickly sealing them on his back for easy baskets. A pseudo go-to move has become part of his face-up game with Millsap stepping off the right block where he likes to jab-step then shoot the step-back jumper. He’s especially adept at slipping off-ball screens and scoring on the move with a variety of runners and off-balance shots. He’s a solid passer and ball-handler who can even play SF in short stretches. He’s shown he can step out and make threes although he’s never been a consistent pick&pop 3pt-threat. He’s a capable pick&roll big who can finish well on the move. He won’t overpower at the rim but he uses his body well to shield defenders to get his shot off where he has a nice touch off the glass.

Defensively Millsap’s lack of size causes him problems against size in the paint but for the most part he competes hard and can frustrate opponents with his aggressiveness. He’s not an interior presence but he can block some shots in help situations, move his feet well defending screen-roll and has excellent hands that result in an extremely high steal-rate for a big.

How He Fits:
Millsap would solidify Utah’s frontcourt depth and most importantly maximize their versatility. 96 minutes is a lot when you only have a 3-big man rotation (as opposed to 4 like last season). A realistic rotation could resemble Favors and Kanter both starting and averaging approximately 32-34 minutes per game with Millsap coming off the bench to play 28-32 mpg – averages which could fluctuate on a game-by-game basis based on matchups, foul trouble and quality of play. It also prevents Favors from being pigeonholed as solely a PF and allows him to play some center as well, where it could be argued he is actually more effective than at the 4.

The key to this rotation is versatility. Defensively Kanter is really close to a pure center, Favors can play either center or power forward, and Millsap is a pure power forward (who can also play small forward in a pinch). As a result, a starting pair of Favors&Kanter provides Utah with a traditional big, physical frontline similar to what the Grizzlies, Pacers and Spurs used last season. What made the Spurs’ frontcourt effective was that they could play big (with Duncan and Splitter) and small (with Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw at PF). A Favors&Millsap pairing provides Utah with the mobility to cover the perimeter as well as defend screen-roll against opponents who go small. Kanter&Millsap are also capable of playing together – giving Utah three bigs who can play together in any combination.

That is the ultimate deal-breaker to re-signing Jefferson. Al is a pure 5. As a result, the following formula from 2012-13 would continue:
Kanter’s P.T. = 48 – Jefferson’s P.T.
Millsap doesn’t create the same playing time constraints.

Perhaps the most attractive aspect to re-signing Millsap is the fact that he offers production but doesn’t dictate an identity. Sap is versatile enough to play “Jazzbasketball” in either a slow or up-tempo environment, and unlike Al Jefferson – doesn’t need dominate the ball on offense to contribute. Therefore, he’s capable of taking a complimentary role to Favors/Kanter to allow them to blossom, but also can step up and play a major role if the situation demands it.

Additionally, Millsap has proven to be a much more productive player playing without Al Jefferson than playing with him.

Millsap 2010-13 Without Jefferson
W-L W% Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk +/-
5-3 0.625 19.9 11.6 3.1 2.1 1.3 +46
Millsap 2010-13 With Jefferson
W-L W% Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk +/-
106-104 0.505 16.0 7.6 2.4 1.5 0.9 -92

One of the biggest counters to re-signing Millsap from Jazz fans is the notion that “Paul will never be willing to come off the bench.” However, history doesn’t support that assumption. Millsap not only came off the bench for the first four seasons of his career, he willingly came off the bench to start the 2011-12 season before it became apparent that Derrick Favors wasn’t ready to be an NBA starter at that time (Favors was unable to stay on the court due to early foul trouble).

The only real pressing question to bringing Millsap back is “Won’t Ty Corbin over-play him since he’s a veteran?” which is certainly a valid concern but if a team chooses to pass on quality talent because the head coach isn’t capable of properly utilizing it – the problem is the coach and not the player.

The overriding reality is that playing 30-32 minutes per game, Millsap will help you win a lot of games so if the Jazz had no intention of re-signing him they should have at least secured a future asset rather than allow him walk for nothing.

What He’s Worth:
A year ago, Millsap turned down a 3-year extension worth approximately $25 million. While I think the $8-9 million range is close fair market value under the new CBA, it’s certainly understandable why Millsap would want a long-term deal. By passing on the extension, he is eligible to sign a 4-year contract with a new team or a 5-year deal with the Jazz. Even if he’s on let’s say a 4-year $40 million deal – because of his age (he’s only 28), durability (has played in 588/606 – 97% – career games) and production – he’s remains a tradable asset that the Jazz can still potentially move down the road. Even with Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors eligible to sign extensions this summer, $9-10 million per year for Millsap won’t compromise Utah’s long-term financial flexibility.

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There’s a strong possibility Millsap could get an offer north of $10 million per elsewhere, or he could find a team that views him as a bonafide 2nd-option. Until that happens, his versatility and skillset make him an ideal 3rd big to bridge the gap for Utah as they transition to a Favors&Kanter frontcourt. There are many reasons the Jazz should look to move-on from the past three seasons of Al Jefferson – but those reasons don’t apply to Millsap. He’s an entirely different player who can fill a different role. A self-made NBA player, there are many reasons beyond sentimentality to keep Paul Millsap in Utah.

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Kyle Korver 2009-10 Utah Jazz

Although the 2013 NBA free agent class is generally weak outside of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, there are still several role players who could be valuable additions for teams such as the Jazz (who have between $25-30 million in cap room).

One of the first free agents to make news thus far has been Kyle Korver – who reportedly is very close to agreeing to sign with the Brooklyn Nets. Korver played in Utah from 2008-10 and in 2009-10 set the NBA single-season record for three-point FG percentage shooting 53.6% behind the arc.

Kyle Korver 2009-10 Shot Chart

Korver, Kyle Shot Chart 2009-10

One of the most interesting aspects of Korver’s 2009-10 shot chart is the volume and accuracy he displayed on his corner threes, which is indicative of his entire career in Utah in which he shot a higher percentage on corner-threes than from other locations behind the arc.

 Korver Overall Corner Threes Other Threes
Season 3pt Att 3pt% 3pt Att 3pt% 3pt Att 3pt%
2007-08 111 296 37.5% 43 96 44.8% 68 200 34.0%
2008-09 103 267 38.6% 54 138 39.1% 49 129 38.0%
2009-10 59 110 53.6% 33 61 54.1% 26 49 53.1%

These percentages also reflect those of the league’s two premier teams – as both the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs shoot significantly higher percentages on corner threes than non-corner threes.

2012-13 3pt FG Percentage
Team Corner 3pt% Other 3pt%
Heat 43.0% 37.6%
Spurs 41.1% 36.0%

Those discrepancies in corner and non-corner 3pt-percentages weren’t evident in Utah’s 2012-13 season.

2012-13 Overall Corner Threes Non-Corner Threes
Season 3pt Att 3pt% 3pt Att 3pt% 3pt Att 3pt%
Jazz 507 1385 36.6% 119 315 37.8% 388 1052 36.9%

A shift in Utah’s offensive philosophy from the past few seasons could re-open opportunities to shoot the corner three with greater efficiency. When Al Jefferson was iso’d on the left block, the left corner of the floor was cleared out and the chances of Jefferson recognizing a double-team and kicking it out quickly enough for Utah’s perimeter players to swing the ball around the horn for a corner three were minimal. Conversely, running high screen-roll where you have shooters camped in either corner who can roll up on the weakside (a la Hornacek/Memo) or drift to the corner on the strong side (a la Russell/Korver) creates much cleaner looks from behind the arc.

With the draft night acquisition of Trey Burke (a true screen-roll point guard who can penetrate and kickout) figures to create a plethora of open shots for a perimeter shooter who can drift around the three-point line  – similar to how Korver played off Deron Williams in Utah.

Perhaps the best example of the floor-spacing Korver provided Deron and the Jazz was in Game 2 of the first-round of the 2010 playoffs. With 90-seconds left and the Utah trailing Denver 106-105, Korver put the Jazz ahead for good with a clutch three (6:37-mark).

Korver three vs Denver #1

1. With the shot clock winding down, Utah runs high screen roll between Deron Williams and Paul Millsap. Simultaneously, Kyle Korver (guarded by J.R. Smith) drifts out to the three-point line to create a lane for Millsap to “roll.”

Korver three vs Denver #2

2. Korver’s drift behind the 3pt-line provides Utah with their necessary floor-spacing. J.R. Smith is forced to cut off the lane as Millsap rolls to the basket, giving Deron the read to find Korver wide-open on the perimeter.

Korver three vs Denver #3

3. Smith can’t recover in time to prevent Korver from getting a clean look at the basket to put Utah ahead for good. Two possessions later Korver preserves Utah’s lead when he draws a charge on Chauncey Billups in the paint. Utah stole Denver’s homecourt advantage which proved to be the difference in their 4-2 series victory.

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The NBA has become a screen-roll league, and Trey Burke was the best pick&roll guard in the draft. Not only does Burke provide Utah with a presence at point guard, his skillset offers the Jazz a set of guidelines to follow when filling in the pieces around their core players. It’s incredibly difficult to identify a quality SG to play next to a low-efficiency, shoot-first and ask questions later PG like Mo Williams. On the other hand, it’s amazing how much more appealing role-players become when you have a point guard who can penetrate and create better looks for his teammates.

Korver was one of those valuable complementary pieces for Utah in 2008, and he could have been one again in 2013. Regardless of how long Korver remains on the open market, the Jazz would be wise to target “value role players” in his mold whose presence provides floor-spacing but doesn’t demand minutes (such as a Carlos Delfino or Marco Belinelli), rather than bigger name perimeter players who would have trouble fitting in and demand larger roles such as Tyreke Evans and O.J. Mayo.

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NBA Superstar Trades

The Utah Jazz possess two first-round picks entering tonight’s NBA draft – their own pick at #14 and Golden State’s pick at #21. The Jazz acquired the Warriors’ pick on February 23, 2011 as part of the Nets’ package in exchange for Deron Williams. As a result – Utah’s total haul from trading Willliams to the Nets was one season of Devin Harris (who essentially became Marvin Williams in 2012), Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and now this year’s 21st overall pick (assuming they stay at #21).

Deron Williams to the Nets – Feb-2011

NJ/Brooklyn Receives:

  • Deron Williams

Utah Receives:

  • Derrick Favors (2010 #3 Pick)
  • Devin Harris (Jul-2012 traded to Atl for Marvin Williams)
  • 2011 1st-Round Pick (#3 Enes Kanter)
  • Warriors’ protected 1st-Round Pick – 2013 #21 Overall (top-7 protected 2012-13, top-6 protected 2014)

2011-12: New Jersey 22-44, no postseason; Utah 36-30, lost in 1st-Round.

2012-13: Brooklyn 49-33, lost in 1st-Round; Utah 43-39, no postseason.

While the overall success of Utah’s bold trade will likely be determined by the development of #3-overall picks Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, let’s compare Utah’s haul to that from the other superstar trades over the past 2 1/2 years.

Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks – Feb-2011

NY receives:

  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Chauncey Billups
  • Sheldon Williams
  • Anthony Carter
  • Renaldo Balkman

Denver receives:

  • SF Wilson Chandler
  • SF Danilo Gallinari
  • PG Raymond Felton
  • C Timofey Mozgov
  • NY’s 2014 1st-Round Pick
  • 2 2nd-Round Picks
  • Cash

2011-12: Denver: 38-28, lost in 1st-Round; New York 36-30, lost in 1st-Round.

2012-13: Denver 57-25, lost in 1st-Round; New York 54-28, lost in 2nd-Round.

Chris Paul to the Clippers – Dec-2011

LAC Receives:

  • Chris Paul
  • 2 Future 2nd-Round Picks

New Orleans Receives:

  • Eric Gordon
  • Chris Kaman
  • Al-Farouq Aminu (2010 #8 Pick)
  • 2012 1st-Round Pick (#10 Austin Rivers)

2011-12: LAC: 40-26, lost in 2nd-Round; New Orleans 21-45, no postseason (#1 overall pick Anthony Randolph).

2012-13: LAC 56-26, lost in 1st-Round; New Orleans 27-55, no postseason.

Dwight Howard to the Lakers – Aug-2012

Part of a 4-team trade. To simplify in terms of Lakers/Magic:

LAL Gives Up:

  • Andrew Bynum
  • Josh McRoberts
  • Christian Eyenga
  • Protected 2017 1st-Round Pick
  • 2015 2nd-Round Pick

LAL Receives:

  • Dwight Howard
  • Earl Clark
  • Chris Duhon

Orlando Gives Up:

  • Dwight Howard
  • Jason Richardson
  • Earl Clark
  • Chris Duhon

Orlando Receives:

  • Aaron Afflalo
  • Nikola Vucevic (2011 #16 Pick)
  • Moe Harkless (2012 #15 Pick)
  • Al Harrington
  • Christian Eyenga
  • Nuggets’ 2014 1st-Round Pick (Lesser of Den/NY 2014 Pick)
  • 76ers’ 2015-or-2016-or-2017 1st-Round Pick
  • Lakers’ protected 2017 1st-Round Pick
  • 2013 2nd-Round Pick (#51)
  • Lakers’ 2015 2nd-Round Pick

2012-13: LAL 45-37, lost in 1st-Round; Orlando 20-62, no postseason.

James Harden to the Rockets- Oct-2012

Houston Receives:

  • James Harden

Oklahoma City Receives:

  • Kevin Martin
  • Jeremy Lamb (2012 #12 Pick)
  • Raptors’ Protected 1st-Round Pick – 2013 #12 Overall (top-3 protected in 2013, top-2 protected in 2014-15, top-1 protected 2016-17; unprotected in 2018)
  • Cole Aldrich
  • Daequan Cook
  • Lazar Hayward

2012-13: OKC 60-22, lost in 2nd-Round; Houston 45-37, lost in 1st-Round.

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While it won’t be known for several more seasons who ultimately got the best deal, the 2013 NBA Draft will at least fill in a few of the missing blanks.

Utah Jazz Nets Deron Williams Trade

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