PK: Hold Tight on Deals


Hold Tight on Deals

By Patrick Kinahan

As Trade Deadline Nears, Jazz Should Be Cautious

As they suggest, the numbers show the Jazz are mired in a downward spiral, piling up losses at an alarming rate.

Five out of six, seven out of nine – any way the recent pattern is dissected, the Jazz have significant issues. So now what?

Radical change? Major trades? Relax?

Judging by the reaction we get through the social networks, it’s all of the above and more. No one can question the passion of Jazz fans.

Whatever conclusion any fan as has reached, Ty Corbin probably has already been there. The look on his face during games indicates the seriousness with which he takes the situation.

“We just have to figure out where we’re at,” the Jazz coach said. “We’re concerned. You have to be concerned where you are. We’ll evaluate where we are and continue to go to work to get better.”

Corbin already has begun to make changes. This past week has started inserting Derrick Favors into the game earlier, pairing him up with Al Jefferson. After choosing not to play Alec Burks in four consecutive games, Corbin also has found time for the rookie guard.

He can make more lineup alterations, but as with the aforementioned changes the results aren’t likely to be any different. The Jeremy Lin story aside, the Jazz are like most every team in the NBA in that no unlikely gem is stowed away on the bench.

Until the young players mature, the team’s talent indicates this is a .500 team. For now, the Jazz are forced to live with the likes of Gordon Hayward playing like a burgeoning star for a few games only to put up a goose egg in the non-competitive loss to Oklahoma City.

To this end, the only way to make a push up the Western Conference standings is through trades. Here’s where the focus shifts from the bench to the front office.

Enter Kevin O’Connor, the Jazz general manager. Like a tax specialist, this is his time of year.

Actually, with the NBA essentially becoming a year-around league, the spotlight is always on O’Connor. It’s just that with the trade deadline less than one month away, the intensity of the heat will be stronger for the next four weeks.

More than most teams, the Jazz are in a good spot. O’Connor has a host of attractive assets at his disposal, ranging from veteran players to promising youngsters to draft picks and financial considerations.

There’s no doubt his cell phone is as active as the chattiest teen-age girl’s. O’Connor’s peers undoubtedly are pouring over the Jazz roster, trying to which players they can pluck away. In turn, he’s on the prowl looking for an upgrade.

Because I care, here’s my unsolicited – and likely ignored – advice. Unless a no-brainer comes along, sit tight.

If there’s a fool out there looking to give away the talent of a Jeff Hornacek, as was the case 15 years ago, then rightfully so pull the trigger. But it’s in the team’s best interest to let the current situation play out.

The Jazz have obvious needs, particularly at point guard and with perimeter shooting. Less than halfway through this season, it’s clear Devin Harris has been a disappointment and nobody can consistently make a three-point shot.

Either Harris has permanently lost his game or he’s in a prolonged slump. By staying in a holding pattern, the Jazz have more time to make a better evaluation. As much as we love Earl Watson’s toughness, he’s not the long-term answer at point guard.

There’s also a line of thought that Harris doesn’t fit in Corbin’s system. If management concurs, then the Jazz ought to seek to improve at point guard immediately, but not at the expense of Hayward, Favors or Enes Kanter. But at this point, Harris isn’t likely to fetch much unless one of these promising young stars is part of the transaction.

Notice that Paul Millsap and Jefferson weren’t included on the list of untouchables. The truth is both of these players are as good as they’re going to get, which isn’t good enough to be a first or second option on a championship team.

Favors or Kanter may never be dominant big men, but the unknown is worth finding out. Without a sure thing, Jazz would do well to listen to proposed deals but refrain from acting on them.