Amar took what looks like a lot of time answering my questions in fantastic detail. So thanks to him, and make sure to visit SLC Dunk which does a tremendous job covering the Jazz.
You are welcome for Trey Burke. $#@$#$. I hate my life. What impresses you about him so far, and what do you think he needs to improve? How do you see him going forward? Is he a core player on the next good Jazz team?
I honestly had no idea how to react on draft night when I found out that Trey Burke had been traded to the Utah Jazz. It was, well, a complete shock. The only thing I can remember is that I just stood up in the middle of the press pit in the Barclays center and started packing up my gear with a "welp" look on my face. My mind was made up that the Jazz were going to just draft Shabazz Muhammad and that would be it. Instead they made a big move thanks to the generosity of the Timberwolves, and things are really strange this year as a result.
Having a ‘good' player is strange for me, because the last few seasons in Jazzland we've had to deal with things like an Earl Watson / Raja Bell back courts. Almost anything done at an average level was seen as an upgrade, so Jazz fans are frequently impressed by Burke. He doesn't have that overt speed that the smaller guys have, and he's not built like a truck like the bigger "action" guards (they're not point guards) are. Trey has savvy though. He actually looks like he knows what he's doing, and looks like has played the position before. He's a better passer than I thought, even if his assist numbers aren't that impressive. He has taken care of the ball pretty well, as well, but I'm sure last night where he had 7 turn overs did some damage to his ratio.
I'm surprised by his ability to finish near the rim. We all recognize that he's going to have to develop intermediate scoring moves if he's going to flourish, like how Tony Parker can score at the rim and has a number of floaters. Burke is working on that right now. If he can get that, and other teams start to respect his penetration game better, then perhaps it will ease him into being more comfortable setting up his outside shot. He can get his shot most of the time he wants to, but it's not as great at going in as it should be. I'd love to see him develop more off-the ball proficiency as well.
There's also this thing called on the ball defense, but all guards have problem with this since they outlawed hand checking.
Trey is really important because he is a highly visible player who has been in the National news cycle before. As small market teams, these guys are invaluable. So I'm really happy we have him on that level. Going forward I felt like he would be more of a ‘face' than a ‘player' for this franchise. Now I feel like he could be a Top 10 PG in the league during some part of his career.
As for the future, well, on draft night I told him the first time the New Orleans / Utah Jazz made the playoffs was back when they were led by an All-Star point guard from the University of Michigan (Rickey Green). I have a feeling the next time we make it, it will be with him as our point guard.
Obviously, the Jazz have been playing much better after their disastrous start. What has improved, other then getting Burke back from injury?
For the Jazz it all has to start with health. When I talked to Trey Burke's agent about this point he told me that it wasn't just the return of his client, but the fact that with a completely healthy roster (Utah started the season out with five rotation guys injured), it allowed for the team to actually play better because the component parts were better. Instead of starting a 3rd stinger, you were starting an actual starter, and so forth.
I think having better players available is a start, the other part is actually performance. A guy like Marvin Williams will hit an open jumper more frequently than Mike Harris. Marvin is also capable of bricking jumpers, but he's an actual NBA player, and not a D-League guy on a dream call up. Someone like Jeremy Evans is better able to block weakside shots because of his performance as a rim protector. Someone like Alec Burks is better at shooting guard, than being pressed into being a sometime starter at point guard. And his performance at SG indicates as much. Players came back from injury, and started to play better than the replacements did.
Better health (including the return of Burke) allowed for better players to be on the court. Which is good because during training camp the players that were expected the play were the ones doing the most playing. When five guys go out at the same time that is an uphill battle for any team.
Sadly, many things have stayed the same. The Jazz have an awful defense, rarely protect their glass, play slowly (despite being healthy and young), and their offense is too simple. Beyond health and playing better, the only other thing that has improved has been free throw making. So, baby steps.
The Jazz and Gordon Hayward couldn't come to an agreement on a contract extension before the deadline, so he'll be an RFA. Do you expect him back? Is there a limit beyond which the Jazz won't go, but some other team might? How do you see that playing out?
Before this season really got started, but right after the deadline for contract extensions passed, I was assured from multiple parties close to his people, and people within the team, that Hayward's deal during restricted free agency would be a slam dunk. All parties expressed on the record and off the record affection for each other and a desire to get it done was sincere. It was just a formality that would have to wait until his market price was made.
I'm less certain that it is a slam dunk now for a variety of reasons. The first is that, well, there has to be a limit that the Jazz don't want to go past - because otherwise the extension would have been made before the deadline. I don't know what that number is, but I suspect that it is above $12 million. The Jazz are paying the bigman tax and "Utah" tax to keep Derrick Favors in town, and he's getting $12.25m per. I can imagine the front office did not feel like they needed to pay the bigman tax to a non-bigman, and hopefully not have to pay the ‘Utah" tax because it's an undesirable location. I guess they were banking on Hayward, a guy from small town Indiana, to be okay with Salt Lake City. I hear that he is. But it's important for a young guy to get paid; and Hayward is a very smart guy with his money. So I think that's where the problem is. If the Jazz end up paying Hayward more than Favors then he will have to earn it based upon his play during the season; otherwise, the Jazz will lose this negotiation.
History plays a factor here as the Jazz last lost a negotiation that badly when they overpaid to keep Andrei Kirilenko in town. The current ownership really does not want to repeat performance. So the limit for Gordon will have to be around $13 million a year. If that's the offer he gets, the Jazz will be forced into a sign and trade, or simply just let him walk. Trey Burke and Alec Burks have made Gordon less of a necessity.
Everything the internet tells me is that Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics will have some part in how this plays out. I'd put it at 5% the Jazz trade him during the season, 15% he is traded after a deal is made with another team during the free agency period, and 25% that they'll just let him walk if the asking price (and some teams do have space) is too high. So the slam dunk in my mind is only 55% right now - even if all parties would like for it to work out.
I'd love to be wrong though.
How much longer do you think Ty Corbin will be coaching this team? I know there has been a lot of dissatisfaction; do you think that management just kept him to get through this season which was never going to be a winning one? Or is it possible he stays? Who would you like to see coaching the Jazz next season, whether it's Corbin or someone else?
I think Corbin, baring something unforeseen, coaches at least 41 more games in Utah - the rest of the season. The Jazz move slowly most of the time, especially when it comes to coaches. Corbin will be around till the end of the season. He may not even be around much longer than that. But I can't see the front office firing him now; if they were going to do it, it would have happened back when the Jazz were 1-14.
As it stands the Jazz are winning despite him, not because of him. A better coach could possibly have the team winning even more; which is the opposite of what the front office devised this Jazz team to do. Really, our main off-season free agent signing was John Lucas III, and he started for us. This wasn't a team meant for anything but a losing season. So Corbin's influence is not at all an issue here. The issue is if his affection for veterans in contract years is a detriment to actual development. Guys like Raja Bell, Josh Howard, Randy Foye, Earl Watson, DeMarre Carroll, and now Richard Jefferson all too frequently got more minutes under Tyrone than the young players the General Manager would draft. The only exception has been Trey Burke.
I haven't started looking at coaches for next season yet. Is Jeff Hornacek going to be available? (Self burn.)
The Jazz hold their own pick and Golden State's pick in the 2014 draft. Are you already looking forward to it? What is your dream draft? Is your living room already dominated by your 2014 draft board?
You know me, my 2014 draft board started the day after the 2013 NBA Draft. I think the Jazz currently have two first rounders and a second; but they may be willing to make moves. If anything, last year taught me that the hard way. As a result this means I have to scout every part of the draft. This may seem like a bad time to mention it, but I stopped scouting Trey Burke because I didn't think we would ever be in a position to draft him after March Madness ended. I don't want to make the same mistake again.
My dream draft is obviously winning the lotto and getting Andrew Wiggins. I think that's the case for most teams going to the lotto too. I am emboldened by the scouting department the current Jazz General Manager, Dennis Lindsey, as brought together. So I'm actually looking forward to see what the Jazz do outside of the lotto just as much as inside of it.
If I was in control of things I would just mess it up, because I have a thing guys with crazy names; which partly explains why I went so crazy for Myck Kabongo last year. In that vein I'm trying to get as much film as possible on Bogdan Bogdanovic. Bog-Bog may never make it to the NBA, but if the Jazz drafted him I would buy that Jersey that same night.