Utah Jazz in search of backcourt help this off-season

utah jazz cheerleaders

All things considered, the Utah Jazz showed steady progress this season when some expected them further drop off post-Deron Williams trade.  Now the Jazz enter the off-season with a glaring need; upgrading their talent in the backcourt.

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Welcome Back, Indiana Pacers

Welcome back, NBA.

And welcome back, Indiana Pacers.

The early-morning agreement Nov. 26 between the league and the players’ union ensures the highest level of professional basketball will be played — albeit under a shortened schedule.

The great news for the Pacers — one of the NBA’s small-market franchises — is that this tentative collective bargaining agreement, which will give players roughly 51.2 percent of basketball-related revenue, will allow teams from any market to be competitive in free agency and, by extension, on the basketball court.

It’s been way too long, folks. Let’s get to examining what the Pacers can do before the condensed season commences and what kind of team they’ll be in 2011-12.

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Are Indiana Pacers in Relapse?

Well, so much for the newfound optimism under Frank Vogel.

After starting 9-3 under the interim coach, the Indiana Pacers have lost seven of their last eight games, including five straight in which the team never realistically threatened for the win. Three of those defeats came by 17 or more points.

The most recent loss, a 101-75 thrashing Wednesday at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves (who at the time owned the worst record in the Western Conference), was arguably Indiana’s worst effort all season. Forward Danny Granger finished 2-of-19 with 10 points, and center Roy Hibbert didn’t score at all.

By Drew Allen

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The Jazz re-signing of Paul Millsap, Solid Move?

paul-millsap

By David Kay

In an offseason that could have shredded the Jazz roster, things have fallen right into place. Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Kyle Korver all exercised their player option and chose to return to Utah rather than become unrestricted free agents. The Jazz even signed Okur to a 2-year extension worth $20.8 million rather than risk losing him next summer.

Then, just when it seemed like The Jazz were going to lose emerging power forward Paul Millsap, they decided to pony up the money and match the 4-year, $32 million offer sheet that the restricted free agent signed with the Blazers. Portland thought by front-loading the contract and giving Millsap a first-year salary of $10.3 million that Utah would shy away from bringing him back. That wasn’t the case. (By the way, if we were keeping score, Portland is now 0-2 in trying to land a premier free agent.)

Millsap proved to be more than just a physical, energy bench guy when Boozer was riddled with injury this past season. Millsap started in 38 games, posting 29 double-doubles. Jazz management was so impressed with his performance that they ultimately chose to re-sign Millsap as a replacement for Boozer, who is the final year of his contract.

Since matching Portland’s offer, Utah has pretty much settled on the fact that they will be trading Boozer with general manager Kevin O’Conner even admitting a trade was “imminent.” The Jazz realize that even if Boozer ends up playing all season in Salt Lake City, the odds of him re-signing with the team are very slim. With Millsap’s new guaranteed 4-year contract, the odds have become pretty much non-existent.

To read the whole analysis click here

Ranking the NBA Free Agent Power Forwards

carlosboozer1

Here are the top 3 NBA free agent power forwards, to view the rest of the list click here 

http://www.walterfootball.com/nbafreeagents2009.php

Carlos Boozer, Jazz (PO) (16.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg) Age: 27.
All indications are that Boozer will likely opt out of the final year of his deal with the Jazz that would pay him $12.6 million for next season. With Paul Milsap a restricted free agent and likely draw some serious interest from other teams, Utah is stuck with a major decision; try to re-sign Boozer for about $15 million a year or bring back Milsap at half the price. The likely choice will be for the Jazz to part ways with Boozer and bring back Milsap. That leaves one likely destination for Booze…

Prediction: signs 5 year, $75 million with Pistons.

 

David Lee, Knicks (RFA) (16 ppg, 11.7 rpg) Age: 26.
Lee has emerged into one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He plays hard every night, does all the dirty work down low, and has a knack for cleaning up the glass. Several teams will likely inquire about his services, and the Knicks may be willing to let him go to keep with their plan of having plenty of cap space for the 2010 offseason so they can make a serious run at LeBron, D-Wade, or Chris Bosh. However, New York would be idiotic to let him go and not get anything in return, so expect a sign and trade to be worked out that might net the Knicks some expiring contracts, young players, and/or draft picks.

Prediction: signs 6 year, $58 million with Knicks as part of sign-and-trade 
 

Paul Millsap, Jazz (RFA) (13.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg) Age: 24.
What happens with Millsap directly coincides with Boozer’s decision to opt out or not. Jazz ownership has already stated that they will match any offer another team makes to Millsap, who was very effective in filling in for Boozer after he suffered his season-ending injury. Again, Millsap will be the cheaper option for Utah and likely won’t be pried out of the Salt Lake City.

Prediction: re-signs 5 year, $38 million with Jazz

Here are the top 3 NBA free agent power forwards, to view the rest of the list click here 

http://www.walterfootball.com/nbafreeagents2009.php

Alley-OOP & the SCOOP on what’s going on Around the NBA Hoop:


2009 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Special Edition

By: Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson

1 Los Angeles Lakers (65-17) vs. 8 Utah Jazz (48-34):
Didn’t we just see them play earlier this week?  Yeah we did. The Lakers’ manhandled them like they stole their snack money before school with a 125-112 win on Tuesday.  This Lakers team has been built to win and the time is now. Andrew Bynum is back and healed from his knee injury, Lamar Odom is playing well, not to mention Pau Gasol is consistent every year.

Oh yeah, almost forgot the Lower Merion stud, Kobe Bryant. Bryant is averaging 26.8 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game and a gratuitous 4.9 assists per game. Bryant is simply balling and has a supporting cast to help as well.

Although the Jazz are a great team, it will be difficult to stop a Lakers squad that is focused and determined. The keys for the Jazz to win are point guard Deron Williams, and company to win their games at home at Energy Solutions Arena, where they play extremely well and for Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer to play efficient in the paint. Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap will also need to play stellar complementary roles in the pick and roll offense. A lot of ball screens and outside shooting will help the Jazz spread out their offense. Not sure that will be enough.
Prediction: Lakers in 6
2 Denver Nuggets (54-28) vs. 7 New Orleans Hornets (49-33):
On one hand, you want the Hornets to do well, just because Chris Paul has been dominating all year. On the other hand, you want the Nuggets do well because Chauncey Billups is playing like Chauncey Billups: A beast. Billups is averaging 17.7 points per game and 6.4 assists per game. But it’s not just Billups that is impressive. It’s his play that is making everyone around him better. Carmelo Anthony, has been playing well since the summer Olympics, and hasn’t stopped, averaging 22.8 points per game and a little under 6 rebounds per game. Kenyon Martin has also had a resurgent year of sorts averaging 11.7 points per game and 6 rebounds per game. He hasn’t been this consistent since his days catching lobs with former New Jersey Nets teammate Jason Kidd.
The Hornets have been the complete opposite. Injuries have killed this team. Tyson Chandler has been hurt and so have the spirits of this team. This team does not resemble the same team that went toe to toe with the San Antonio Spurs last year. In order for the Hornets to have similar success like last year, David West needs to play well in the middle. He has lamented this season about having to play the center position. He needs to do whatever needs to be done to make things happen for this team. The Nuggets can be beat but it is up to the Hornets to be mentally touch and execute.  What the Hornets have, however, is not enough to defeat the Denver Nuggets.

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3 San Antonio Spurs (54-28) vs. 6 Dallas Mavericks (50-32):

The Spurs are hurting. Manu Ginobili is out for the year, and Roger Mason Jr. will be counted on to be the 3rd wheel to compliment Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and it will be done. The Dallas Mavericks, led by the veteran leadership of Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki, exceeded expectations under first year Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. The team still lacks in one area and that is interior toughness. Although Tim Duncan is not at 100% he can still bang down low with Erik Dampier. The Spurs also have Drew Gooden.
DO NOT SLEEP ON GOODEN DURING THE PLAYOFFS!
The Spurs always find a way to win and they will do that against this Mavericks team.

Prediction: Spurs in 6

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4 Portland Trail Blazers (54-28) vs. 5. Houston Rockets (53-29):

I’m impressed with this Portland Trailblazer team. They have played as a cohesive unit and possess a bond on and off the court very similar to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Brandon Roy and LeMarcus Aldridge are a great combo. Owner, Paul Allen has constructed a great group of guys that have proved a lot of people wrong this year.
However, winners and will-to-win don’t necessarily equate winning a series. This Rockets team, on paper has a Roster full of overachievers and they have not lived up to their potential for years. Ron Artest is hungry and Yao Ming is playing extremely well, without Tracy McGrady mind you. Luis Scola has been playing well since he played in the summer team in the Olympics with his Argentine team. The Rockets have the advantage in skill and experience.
Prediction: Rockets in 5
There you have it: The Scoop! Catch you on the rebound for Round 2!