Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dollar$ and Cent$: Just say 'No' to the 2009 NBA Draft

First of all, if you are a Pete Maravich/Ricky Rubio fan, then you don't need to worry about this draft. Secondly, if you are the Utah Jazz, you don't want nothing to do with this one either, but for an entirely different reason: money. Money is a huge big deal in the NBA -- and in more than that art imitates life type of way. People want to get paid. (Even if they don't deserve it) Utah -- when healthy -- is a pretty nice team. In order to keep this team together the Jazz Brass (particularly Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor) is going to have to get new team owner Greg Miller to open the, how do you say, "cheque book". The salary situation is bananas. (but not in the "it changes every day" type of way) Just take a look for yourself. This off season the Jazz may have to ink new deals for Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Paul Millsap, Jarron Collins and Kyrylo Fesenko -- essentially all the bigmen on the roster except for Andrei Kirilenko and current rookie Kosta Koufos.

Boozer Okur Millsap Fesenko Collins
Photographed by Melissa Majchrzak for NBAE/Getty Images Photographed by Melissa Majchrzak for NBAE/Getty Images  Photographed by Melissa Majchrzak for NBAE/Getty Images Photographed by Melissa Majchrzak for NBAE/Getty Images Photographed by Melissa Majchrzak for NBAE/Getty Images
$12.7 mill next year, looking for more according to interview he gave weeks ago to ESPN $9 mill next year, looking for more (according to Turkish media) Making less than $800k, Restricted Free Agent will be offered 10x that on the market at least Team option for less than $900k Somehow making $2 mill this year

That's not all the free agents though, as the Jazz will need to figure out what they are doing with their point guard situation (both back-ups, Brevin Knight and Ronnie Price, have expiring contracts) and that Morris Almond guy . . . well, it's a damn shame what happened to that guy. The year after that (i.e. the Off-Season of 2010) there needs to be some money for Ronnie Brewer (who's qualifying offer is going to be at a hair under $4 million per season), Matt Harpring (who, for whatever reason, we are incapable of getting rid of) and anyone else who didn't get taken care of this off-season.

The 'best' thing is to find out which guys we really want, and develop a strategy to keep them. Out of all of those names the most important free agents (right now) are Boozer, Okur, Millsap, Brewer and Knight. Championship teams do not depend on the services of guys like Jarron Collins, or Ronnie Price. Brewer does not need a new deal until next season. Mehmet Okur has not made any waves about opting out, unlike Boozer, so both of them 'could' still be on the books for the next year. (At the rate of $9 million and $12.7 million respectively) If all three are on the books then we only really need to worry about Knight and Millsap. The back-up PG situation can be handled with part of the exception. (I could be wrong, as I'm not a cap-ologist) The rest of the money can be used on Millsap. (What money? Where is this money coming from? The Jazz are already over the cap . . . there IS no more money!) The closer to reality we get (and hence, the closer to actually dealing with the cap) the closer we get to recognizing that this situation sucks.

There just isn't enough money to go around. If you bare bones it, have Boozer opt out (and not be resigned by the Jazz), let Collins and Price walk, jettison Fesenko with the team option on his contract -- then you'll have enough money to go around for Millsap, Okur, Brewer and Knight over the next two season . . . but only have 9 players on the roster. You're not allowed to have only 9 players on your roster. The Jazz will have to pick up a few low cost scrubs in order to fill out the roster -- not a bad move, but still, there's no guarantee that Boozer will opt out now (even though he said that he would), and secondly, the Jazz may not (for whatever reason) get rid of Collins, Price *or* Fesenko. Under Larry H. Miller, R.I.P., the Jazz were a small town family more than they were a business. Guys like Harpring and Collins had expiring contracts a few seasons ago, and they were given (back then) seriously over priced golden handshake deals. It should have ended there, but I don't know if it really will. So, okay, let's scratch that idea of the Jazz actually going to 'not' sign company men. I really do not have a great solution to the Jazz financial situation, but, I do know where some money can be saved: the 2009 NBA Draft.

Right now the Jazz are not going to go over the hump with a late 1st round pick and a late 2nd round pick. Especially not from this upcoming draft. The last thing the Jazz need is to use money on a guaranteed contract that'll eat up some of the money that would be better served being spent on the likes of Millsap or Brevin Knight. Luckily, the Jazz are in just the position to get rid of their draft picks this year. We owe Philly a 1st round pick (from the Korver trade), and Philly owes Minnesota a 1st round pick (Rodney Carney trade). If the Jazz pick lower than 22nd in this year, Minnesota will get our pick. That helps out everyone involved, especially the Jazz. The hard part, though, is getting a good enough record to finish the season with so that we are picking at 22 or lower. The Jazz will need to finish with one of the top 9 records in the league when all is said and done. Where are we today? Sitting at #10, percentage points behind New Orleans. If Utah can leapfrog New Orleans, Portland and Houston we'll be in the clear -- while keeping Dallas, Atlanta and Phoenix behind us in the standings. Sounds very plausible, and while I'd love to give up on a very late 1st round draft pick and save money, I don't know how possible this is going to end up being. The longer we hold onto the pick that we owe Philly -- that they'll give to Minnesota -- the better the pick can possibly get (going upwards from #22 to getting near the lotto if we hold it till 2013). Better to get rid of it sooner, rather than later.

The 2nd round pick is an entirely different animal, as the Jazz may be willing to keep it in plans of a draft and stash with another International (most likely European) player. This way the money for that guy is not on the books, but we still keep the rights to him. We're currently doing this with International Men of Mystery Tadija Dragicevic and Ante Tomic. As far as I am concerned, we have enough European bigmen to last a few seasons. I don't think that European swingmen are the answer to our problems. Nor do I think that our future back-up PG is going to be a European point guard. Sure, we could draft and stash *any* International player, but I don't know how great our scouting of South America is. (If we're not getting a Euro, he'll be from the Americas somewhere -- don't see us drafting an Asian or African player -- I really don't think we're actively scouting those parts of the world) The answer here, again, appears to be giving our pick to Philly, as we still owe them future considerations in the 2nd round because of the Fesenko-Hill trade a few years back.

We skip the draft this season, focus on the players we have, and save some money right now. I think that's not a bad idea at all. Plus, then the next year's draft (2010), we'll have plenty of picks that we can use as assets for trades, or well, you know, draft picks. We may have a few holes to fill two off-seasons from now. We'll have two 1st round picks (our own, hopefully a low pick; and the Knicks unprotected, possibly lotto, pick). I'm sure both of those picks could be traded to a bad team if we wanted to move up in the draft . . . I dunno . . . if we actually find someone that we'd like to add to the team.

In completely unrelated news, doesn't this kid look like Fesenko's younger brother? This guy is Donatas Motiejunas, a Lithuanian center that projects to be a lotto pick in the 1st round of the 2010 NBA Draft. I don't know much about the kid, but I do know that unless he's the reincarnation of Wilt, I don't want the Jazz to ever get close to drafting this guy.

We have enough young center prospects that we're not developing already.

Kyrylo Fesenko Donatas Motiejunas


UtesFan89 said...

I think we might need a pick to be our 3rd string PG (Jerry loves having his 3 PGs).

Hopefully Flop is gone. Price & Knight... it's up in the air, but they could end up getting offers from elsewhere (I mean, Jason Hart is getting a contract offer right now).