The NBA trade deadline is less than a month away, and if you’re a Jazz fan, it’s almost impossible not to talk about.
But as February 21st approaches with all the hype of a Mayan doomsday prophecy, one of the greatest fears among Favors and Kanter-loving Jazz is that the 21st will be just as uneventful as December 23rd. While rumors and trade talk circulates in league circles, there hasn’t been much noise about the Jazz. Even when they do discuss the issues, little information surfaces, as evidenced by GM Dennis Lindsey’s recent interview with Hoopsworld. Lindsey’s as adept as anyone in the Jazz organization at keeping his cards close to his chest. Everybody knows this – from fans to league GM’s – yet, oddly, everyone still seems to be surprised by it.
I wouldn’t read too much into the silence. Sure, whirlwinds of rumors may have preceded the moves of Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony. Yet before Deron was traded, there was about as much noise as a Prius would make in space. Same goes for a plethora of smaller moves the Jazz have made within the last few years.
Now, bare with me for a moment.
Lets name a few things that negatively affect a player’s trade value, besides a bad attitude (Demarcus Cousins) or a huge, unmerited contract (Elton brand):
1. A player is already expected to be traded.
2. Hundreds of rumours magnify that expectation.
3. Sources from said player’s team comment on how much they’d like to make a trade.
Herein lies the simple genius behind the way the Jazz are handling the press. While alleged interest for Millsap surfaces from teams like the Nets and Bucks, it’s fairly one-sided. I have no doubt that the Jazz brass spend plenty of time discussing trade scenarios with bigwigs from other teams – but rarely, if ever, are they initiating that conversation. They hold the power, and are about as likely to relinquish it as Jessica Alba is to give you a call this weekend.
Alright, then. So that makes sense. But that doesn’t excuse the Jazz and coach Corbin from at least playing the young guys, right? I’ve heard many an acquaintance tell me they’d rather watch Favors, Kanter and Burks miss the postseason than watch Big Al and ‘Sap lead us through another short playoff run. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had the exact same feeling more than once: If one or both of our starting bigs are history after this season anyway, why play them just to get knocked out of the playoffs early and miss out on a lottery pick?
But then it hits me, and I realize the list above isn’t quite complete. Two more things that greatly diminish an NBA player’s trade value:
4. He isn’t getting any minutes or putting up stats.
5. He isn’t helping the team win games.
As David Locke pointed out on his Facebook page, Jefferson has been tearing it up over his last several games. He’s also showing up more on defense since the turn of the new year. Millsap had his slump earlier, but has been playing more like himself as of late. Neither of these players are perfect, but I’d venture to guess they’d be doing much worse if they weren’t getting consistent minutes. Not only that, but then we’d be dealing with the rumblings of a disgruntled roster, another huge trade value assassin.
I have no idea whether or not a trade will go down before Millsap and Jefferson expire. No clue at all. But if it does happen, I’d think the best time to strike a deal would be right before the trade deadline, when competing teams’ worst offers have all been rejected and they’re getting a little desperate. That way, the Jazz will get the best possible deal – not just scraps. If something doesn’t go down, there will certainly be some backlash amongst fans and analysts – as for me, I actually trust that this would only mean a good enough deal didn’t present itself. Lindsey and O’connor haven’t given me, as a fan, much reason to think otherwise.
I’m fairly convinced that many a team in the same situation would have screwed it up by now. In an soap opera era of oft-disgruntled superstars, excessive whining to the media, turnstyle coaching changes and overall drama, It’s amazing the Jazz organization has kept it together so well – including Corbin and his players. Favors and the other young guys will get the playing time they deserve, whether this season or next. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to enjoy the elite level of play the team’s demonstrated in January and see if they can make some noise in the playoffs.