My questions to Amar with his responses:
1) Both our teams lost star players this summer and are projected by many to be in the lottery this year. How are your fans dealing with the transition? What are your expectations for this year?
The lottery projection isn't coming out of left field, and for the most part fans are supportive of the direction the team is going in, in theory. Moving away from a veteran led club, and away from finished products like Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Mo Williams, Randy Foye (among others) in favor of young, inexperienced players was something many Jazz supporters had all but asked for. We have it now. The team is built to play defense, and the reigns are in the hands of young players still with loads of potential. It's just that, well, losing 11 of 12 games (8 preseason and 4 regular season) is an entirely new process for both the Jazz and the fanbase. Overall the expectations were low coming in, but being competitive in three of our first four games was a nice surprise. Personally I felt like the Jazz would show flashes of competency, but the combination of poor coaching, a poor bench, and injuries would make sure the team lost more games than they should.
But again, the losses have already started to wear thin on some Utah fans.
2) Gordon Haywood played for Coach Stevens at Butler. He didn't sign an extension in Utah. So OBVIOUSLY he's going to be a Celtic sooner or later. This theory has been kicked around a lot lately but personally I'm not really buying it except in the "hey, you never know" sort of sense. What are your thoughts from the Utah perspective?
From what I know from ‘sources', Gordon Hayward has no immediate desire to leave the franchise, despite not signing an extension. Of course, that may very well be the case, but as an irrational fan I have to admit that Jazz fans have already gone a little crazy about the possibility of him going to Boston. (So much so that a number of Jazz blogs had to go into details to try to placate the masses that while this is a possibility, it's not like the Jazz wouldn't have the money to match any offer the Celtics could give.) You never do know, but by the same token, a lot of players that were just "supposed to" end playing for the Jazz never played here - including Shawn Bradley, Keith van Horn, and your own Danny Ainge. The new "obvious" target for some people online is the theorize that Jimmer Fredette is going to end up playing in Utah despite the Jazz having a group of better wing players already.
Would the Celtics need or be able to use a Gordon Hayward type of player? Absolutely. Does the closeness between Hayward and Head Coach Stevens make me a little nervous? Absolutely. Is Gordon likely to leave the Jazz? Well, he has the keys to the car right now and is the most marketed player on the team. Is that enough to make him feel some sort of loyalty to Tyrone Corbin? I don't know. What I do know is that the Jazz will do everything they can to keep him. So it's a moot point.
Ultimately, though, Jazz fans would sleep better at night if he just signed the extension. And until we figure out his next contract we will be worrying about Hayward leaving at the drop of every rumor.
3) Al Jefferson was a fan favorite here but we quickly recovered from seeing him go when Kevin Garnett showed up. What is it like seeing him walk away for nothing? How did fans feel about him? Was it kind of like Josh Smith where the fans liked him but felt like it was time for both sides to go their separate ways?
Al Jefferson was a huge fan favorite and all around feel good story. He was the lockerroom glue guy despite last year's team being comprised of so many people in contract years. He not only mentored Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter as a bigman coach; but he also helped get Enes Kanter, the quiet teenager, out of his shell. While his on court performance did not live up to his amazing numbers in Minnesota, he never failed at being generous and at being a leader. So much so, that even after he signed to go play for the Bobcats that his introductory press conference there had him speaking highly of his protégés back in Utah. He was eventually training his successors and he knew it, they knew it, the front office knew it, and so did the fans.
Seeing Jefferson leave was not fun on a personal level, or even on ‘paper' as a talent loss. But for the future it had to happen; and he did the bigger thing by moving on and not demanding to stay and have the team trade one of their young frontcourt prospects instead. The only problem Jazz fans have is that he took money (and security) to go play for the Bobcats instead of taking a paycut to play for a contender. Big Al would be an awesome second option on a real contender instead of an inefficient first option on a lottery team. He's a good guy and I'd love to have seen him evolve into a productive player on a winning team for once. He would have deserved as much. But, I don't know all of his motivations for wanting to go to Charlotte. So maybe I should just be quiet? He'll be missed. But his departure opened up the runway for the eventual takeoffs of two careers. For a Big Man known for his scoring, that is a pretty sweet assist.
Amar's questions to me and my responses:
1. I'm probably one of the last MarShon Brooks fans out there. He has only played in 7 minutes so far this season. He's not injured right now according to the websites I've researched. So what gives? He had a solid rookie season for the Nets before they got Joe Johnson, then completely fell off the map. For a guy who has such great combine numbers and an apparent "I want to get better" motivation how did he go from occasional starter to a guy chained to the bench on a lotto team?
Basically MarShon has the deck stacked against him and he only has one card to play. You'd think that he'd be able to find time on a lottery team, but we've got 100 shooting guards on this roster and most of them have a more diverse skillset than Brooks who is pretty much just a scorer at this point. That's a good skill to have and maybe when Rondo comes back he can come off the bench for some instant offense, but we've also got Jordan Crawford in that role and Steez can fill in at point guard in a pinch (and right now we're in a pinch). There's also Courtney Lee who can play defense and occasionally hit jumpers. Like all the players from the Nets deal, Brooks just doesn't fit on this roster and he'd be better served being packaged somewhere else. In short, he's a low value trade chip right now.
2. As someone who went to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago it was apparent after the first session of the day that out of all the bigs, Kelly Olynyk was going to be good. He really wowed most everyone there, including the sizable Utah Jazz contingent. If Trey Burke was not available, and he slipped to them, I have no doubts that the Jazz were targeting him. What impressed me most was his actual three point range at the pro level. I didn't watch him play in college much, but he absolutely dominated the Orlando summer league. The one knock on him was that he was probably only going to improve just a little bit more in the NBA, and that other bigmen may have more room to grow. So, as someone who has watched him much more than I have over the summer -- how good is he now? And how good do you think he can be?
Olynyk has been progressing very nicely. As you say, he's got a great feel for the game offensively and he's got more range than we saw from him in college. That said, I think Ainge had him pegged pretty well when he said that he's a stretch 4 that will be a nice complimentary player in this league. I think starter or first big off the bench is where I'd project him. His defense has been the consistent knock on him but he does a nice job stepping in for charges and I think he'll be able to operate well in a good defensive system. Just don't expect him to keep up laterally with the more athletic bigs in the league. The Dirk Nowitski comparisons are a little over the top, but the styles of play are very similar and that kind of player could have a lot of success in this league. I'm very pleased with him.
3. Humor me. If both teams are 100% healthy right now, what would it take to get Rajon Rondo in just a simple two-team deal between my Jazz and your Celtics?
Ok, you asked me to humor you, now humor me. I'm a huge Rondo fan, so unless I'm getting a star in return, I'm not interested. Period. I guess if you pushed me I would throw something like this out. I'm pretty sure your fans will accuse me of trolling them, but I'd honestly want a draft pick tossed in too (I guess I could allow for it to be a top 5 protected pick). I'm that big of a fan. Or to put it another way, I think of Rondo as a special talent that you can't replace easily if at all. Nobody on the Jazz strikes me as that kind of player. Also, I'm perfectly happy keeping Rondo for the long term and I flatly reject this notion that the Celtics somehow HAVE to trade him this year. Of course if Rondo requests to be dealt or if Ainge makes it clear that he's on the block, I'll have to adjust my expectations accordingly, but I won't like it.
Thanks Amar! Best of luck (except in the lottery).
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