PK: Short Term Pain for Long Term Gain


Short Term Pain for Long Term Gain

By Patrick Kinahan

One day and counting, that’s the deadline for making trades in the NBA this season.

For the Jazz, the Thursday timeframe is no more than a temporary deadline. Charged with improving the team, general manager Kevin O’Connor believes any potential move goes beyond the next several weeks.

And he’s right.

“I can’t improve the team without looking to make trades,” he told reporters this week.

With a telephone almost permanently attached to his ear, O’Connor is a busy man. He would have no shortage of suitors if he’s inclined to make a move, but any trade isn’t about this reason, and it may not be necessarily about next season.

The Jazz brass must look well into the future before making any moves. Short- term gains, at this time, are not worth it.

“It would have to be something long term,” O’Connor said.

Crazy as it may appear, the Jazz would be better off taking a hit over the rest of this season if it helps the team’s future. The point is, don’t mess with the foundation until any cracks start to show.

Within reason, barring the ridiculous, O’Connor needs to politely decline any attempts other teams make to pry loose the kids. Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter are off limits.

Everybody else is fair game.

This isn’t to say that the four players drafted over the last two years have reached untouchable status. Each has shown flashes of greatness, but none is identified as guarantees. But given the composition of the roster, these youngsters represent the best chance the Jazz have to make a strong playoff push.

Any deal the Jazz make must be made with the intent to mesh in with the aforementioned players. If the acquisition doesn’t fit, the former New Yorker now in charge of the Jazz needs to say forget about it.

As good as they are, veterans Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson have not shown the ability to lead a team on a deep playoff run. For that matter, we don’t know a team with Millsap and Jefferson as the best players is good enough to make the playoffs.

The same goes for Devin Harris, Josh Howard and any player with more than two years of experience. But this isn’t to suggest the Jazz veterans don’t have significant value. Depending on the asking price, NBA teams would line up around the block to trade for many Jazz players.

Here’s where the philosophy of one step back, two steps forward comes in.

O’Connor should readily embrace the thought of trading a core rotation player if it brings a long-term benefit. Even if the move derails this season’s playoff possibilities, he shouldn’t worry about it.

Of course, Ty Corbin would shudder at the thought. Still finding his way, the Jazz coach obviously works each game as if his life depends on it. But the bigger picture is to contend for a championship, not simply be one of the Western Conference’s best eight teams.

One and done is somewhat acceptable for now, but over time it becomes pointless.

Darned near daily on the DJ and PK radio show Jazz fans push the youth movement. Many expressed outrage that Corbin chose not to play Burks during the last game, even though the Jazz beat the Detroit Pistons going away.

The point here isn’t to suggest the Jazz gut the roster and hand over the bulk of the playing time to a host of players who haven’t earned big minutes. But the prospect of stalling the youth movement for the sake of earning the eighth seed doesn’t have universal appeal.

As he strives to put together a championship roster, O’Connor can’t worry about Corbin’s career coaching record. Corbin’s focus is to win each game, as it should be, while O’Connor can juggle the present with the future.

The guess here is the Jazz don’t stand pat. Look for part of the core, whether it’s Raja Bell, C.J. Miles or whomever, to have a new address before Friday.