If you aren’t on twitter, then this is news: the Jazz are going to be bringing back Ronnie Price. (also confirmed by 1320 KFAN by txt message and via Twitter and the PR department of the Utah Jazz, via Twitter) Of course, this was a mere formality after Sloan was talking about Price in post draft interviews about Eric Maynor. But really, you didn’t need that either – you just needed to listen to me all along. So, last off-season the Jazz traded Hart for Knight, and by doing so, put themselves in a position where they would end up evaluating two guys for one spot all season long – with the final prize being a contract. I’m sure it must have been a crazy year for both Ronnie Price and Brevin Knight, playing against each other all season long fighting for playing time, both in the last year of expiring contracts.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 (an excerpt)
Posted by Amar at 1:30 PM
“. . . More playing time at PG than Ronnie Price: That doesn't mean that Price isn't going to get playing time this season -- he may very well beat out Knight as the season goes on -- but over all Knight is going to get more playing time at the PG than Price will . . . ”
Thursday, October 16, 2008 (an excerpt)
Posted by Amar at 11:58 PM
“. . . If you haven't been following Ronnie Price's career, this is pretty much his own version of Sisyphus' challenge. His entire career he's had to make a living by beating other guys out for playing time. He did it two years ago in Sacramento (beating Jason Hart out). He did it last year in Utah (again beating Jason Hart out). And he's basically going to have to do it a 3rd year in a row, having to attempt to beat out
Jason Hartthe guy they traded Jason Hart for (Brevin Knight). Brevin also being in a contract year makes this even 'better', in terms of entertainment value. They are in direct competition with each other for this season -- and the next ones too! The only way to make things a little bit harder for Price would be if his coach decides 'just for fun' (in that exaggerated East Indian accent that Russell Peters has sometimes) to stop playing him at point guard -- and have him fight for playing time against 4 shooting guards (Brewer, Korver, Miles and Almond). Sounds dumb, right? Sounds even better from Jerry's own mouth [Interview, around the 1:54 to 4:13 mark, via 1320 KFAN]. For the record though, he does compliment Price as well during that answer, and suggests that his versatility allows him to play alongside Knight for a really small, quick line-up.
Basically, then, all Ronnie Price has to do is beat out Knight, and his future here in Utah will be secure, well it should be, right Mo Williams? Price has some advantages though, as he's been here last season, won the job, and played in every playoff game. Furthermore, he's a popular guy (in that younger crew with Millsap, Brewer and Miles) and the Jazz went 43-18 in games that he played in. That's winning 70.5 % of those games -- good enough for a 58 win season over 82 games. Here are three things to look out for this season from Ronnie Price:
Hustle every minute on the floor: Deron Williams plays so much point guard that there is very little time remaining for the other guys. There's going to be 8-12 minutes per game available by my estimation, and that's not nearly enough to play all three guys every game. What Price will do is hustle and play very hard in whatever time he has. Brevin Knight isn't going to jump up there and slam down alley-oops, or run back and block guys on fast breaks. Those are the types of plays that'll help get Price another contract with the Jazz -- especially if he plays within the offense and runs the team well.
Be available (and healthy) to play in 80+ games: Knight gets injured every year. He's never played over 80 games and whatever slim window of playing time exists has to be maximized by Price. Price needs to be available every game to go in and give Deron a breather. Especially in the cases where Knight is going to be injured and unavailable to play. It sounds simple, but it makes sense. One easy way to distinguish himself from his competition is be healthy. Coach is going to go with the guys on the roster who can play. Sometimes it doesn't have to be complicated. Knight averages 59 games played a season over his career. There is a window of opportunity for Price here, even if it's not wide open.
Eventually beat out Brevin Knight: I'm going to come out and say it -- there are going to be some situations all year where one of the two guys is going to get to play, and the other guy will sit. There will be situations where one guy is favored to play over the other (match-ups, etc). Also, there could be some times on the court where they both play at the same time. Out of all of those situations I think that the veteran leadership of Brevin Knight is going to be a stabilizing force for our team. I just can't bet against Ronnie Price. He's a smaller, scrappy guard who has three point range and has been in this situation before. Knight is smaller, scrappier, and much better than Jason Hart (the guy Price used to beat out each of those previous times), but I think Price has more fight in him. If Knight gets decked by Turiaf I see him on the floor for a while. Price got decked and was ready to fight. It's probably this fight that's going to win him the job sometime after the All-Star Break. . .”
Price eventually did win out, it appears, but thanks to Brevin Knight for being there. He was instrumental in our team starting the seasons on a 5-0 run, but just did not get it going after that. It’s a shame really, because I think we all expected more out of him. Alas, he’ll be looking to play somewhere else next season.
If you don’t recall, Price did not get a chance to play massive minutes in the playoffs this season, which is in stark contrast to last season’s playoffs. But in the time that he did play, he played with energy, hustle, fire and without fear. That’s the type of player I want on the court when we’re on the wrong side of an elimination game. And that’s exactly the type of player the Jazz have in Price.