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State of the Cap: Utah Jazz

Thu, 07/31/2008 - 10:35am
By Josh Redetzke
7/31/08


2008/09 Utah Jazz Payroll: $62.4 million
2008/09 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $58 million
Roughly: $4.4 million over cap


The Good:

 
 


Deron Williams
 

The Utah Jazz just bet about $70 million dollars over four years that Deron Williams will be the superstar that leads them to a title. After seeing how he improved during his first three seasons, I don't think the team is taking much of a risk. Deron once again set career highs in every statistical category except rebounding (I think we can forgive him on that one). Most impressive was his 50.7% shooting as a point guard and his 10.5 assists per game, good for third in the league. Deron also played great in the playoffs, the true measure of a superstar's talents. He'll be under a lot of pressure when that gigantic extension kicks in next year. From what we've seen so far, I think he'll be up to the challenge.

Backing up Deron on the front line is the dynamic duo of Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur. Boozer is as strong a power forward as you will find in the NBA and he led the team in scoring with 21.1 points per game, a new career high. His 10.4 rebounding average and 54% shooting aren't too shabby either. Boozer is simply one of the best forwards in the league and at $11.5 and $12.6 million the next two seasons, he is actually a little underpaid for his services.

Mehmet Okur is a stretch-the-floor type of forward because he can hit three pointers at a 38.8% clip, yet he can still bang around in the post when needed. Okur's scoring was down to 14.5 per game, but his 7.7 rebounds each night were pretty good and he is certainly capable of having a big game on the boards. Okur's contract is moderately priced at $8.5 million for the upcoming season and $9 million the year after. The Jazz are getting good value out of that deal.

The best deal on the team, however, is easily Paul Millsap. At 6'8", he is a little on the short side to be a post player in this league, but Millsap more than makes up for it with his strength and athleticism. He is a key player for the Jazz, putting up 8.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 50.4% shooting in a reserve role. What makes Millsap such a bargain is that he is due just under $800,000 for next season. He'll definitely be looking at a raise next summer so the team should enjoy it while it lasts.


The Bad:

With so many good contracts and valuable players in Utah, the contract for Andrei Kirilenko sticks out like a sore thumb. His production is severely inadequate for the three years and $49 million left on his deal. Kirilenko only managed 11 points and 4.7 rebounds per game last season. What's worse is that the 1.5 blocks he averaged was the lowest of his career. AK-47 is still the team's best shot blocker, a defensive presence, and an all-around good player to have on your squad, but he just shouldn't be making that much money considering his current role on the team.

Matt Harpring used to be a tough, valuable role player that always gave you good minutes. Recently, though, Harpring's minutes and numbers have really turned south. As his pay is increasing ($6 and $6.5 million the next two years), his scoring and rebounding are decreasing, down to 8.2 points and 3.2 boards. It is a minor concern, but something to keep an eye on in the future.

The Future:
Without a doubt, the Utah Jazz have built themselves a contender. Their best attribute is their balance. They have one of the best front lines in the league, a great young point guard, youth to compliment their veterans, and the right mix of role players to fill in the gaps. Utah got a steal when they pried Kyle Korver away from Philly for almost nothing. The sharpshooter's contract only averages about $5 million a year the next three seasons. For that, they get one of the NBA's best bombers and free throw shooters. He fills a need and fills it well, which is exactly what the team was looking for. Winning in this league is about making the right moves at the right time, and the Jazz have done that.

Can this team win a title? With young players like Williams, Millsap, and the impressive Ronnie Brewer still improving, the Jazz will only get better and they've already shown they can go deep in the playoffs. All five starters are signed at least through the next two seasons, assuming Boozer and Okur don't opt-out next summer. Considering the hefty contracts being thrown around, I wouldn't be surprised to see them test the waters. If Utah can keep these guys together for a few more years, they have a real chance to do what Stockton and Malone couldn't: win a championship.


Free Throw:
If there is one weakness on the Jazz right now, it's at backup point guard. Sure, Deron Williams will take the lion's share of the minutes, but you still need a guy that can come in a keep the offense moving as well as play starter-quality basketball if Deron has to miss a few games due to injury. Utah would be wise to find a quality veteran backup so one little twisted ankle or sore knee won't derail their season.

Grade: A

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Pnoyballer88
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AK-47

Alright what did Andrei Kirilenko ever do to you? All your criticism about him are asinine. First of you complain that he only averages 11 points. What do you expect him to average 20 a game. How on earth do you expect him to average more than 11 if Mehmet Okur, Deron Williams, and Boozer. Are each averaging 20 plus a game. Its not mathematically possible. Theres a reason that there are no such thing as a big four in the NBA. Only big threes, big two, and one. Secondly you criticize him for leading the team in blocks. Why don't you criticize his other teammates for being crappy at blocking shots. Specially there two bigs Boozer and Okur. Its more pathetic when your SF is outblocking your PF and C. But no they score 20 so they get a pass on that. All this article proves is that Offense is overrated and Defense is still key. Take Kirilenko out of this team and they want make the playoffs. I guarantee you on that one.

delomir
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Re: AK-47

"... he just shouldn't be making that much money *considering his current role on the team.*" $16 mil/year is a ton of money for a 4th-banana type, even with his defense. It may well preclude them from re-signing one or both of Okur or Boozer next summer.

thparadox
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RE: AK-47

Please. AK-47 was clearly a different player 3 years ago. he should be averaging 2 steals and 3 blocks a game.

I can understand his points and reboudns going down with boozer and okur around, but defense is what's holding the jazz back, and AK is supposed to be the best stopper.

His best year on defense was worth $12 million. He needs to fulfill his potential

Pnoyballer88
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AK-47

He still is there best stopper. He was checking Kobe in that series with the Lakers. The guys who killed them were Gasol and Odom. He can't defend an entire team all by himself. Again you ask the impossible.

Mr.Creative
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Utah Jazz

Simply, he is one of those versatile players in the NBA aside from Marion, Prince, etc., and definitely the Jazz's best shotblocker, and one of those rare players that are "5X5 Stat Fillers". However, his numbers has dropped. Clearly, Sloan seems to place AK-47 into the defender role and emphasizing on D-Will, Boozer and Okur to spearhead the offense. Thus, is the reason that he wanted a trade. AK-47 is my favorite player but at the amount he is getting, he still needs to play to his potential. Hopefully, Sloan will give him some part of offensive duties to help him stray from thinking about requesting a trade, and he needs to step it up this coming season. Just like PnoyBaller pointed out, "AK-47 can't defend an entire team by himself..." Thus, having AK-47 gives them a role player in helping bring the team deep into the playoffs and I also can't see them going deep in the postseason without AK. Re-signing Okur and Boozer should their main priority in the 08-09 off-season. Millsap is definitely a great contributer to the team along with the pickup of Korver, a 3-Point specialist, the one area which needed attention in the team's gaps, and Brewer has been improving throughout the season. Hopefully, the good management skills of O'Connor will come into action by keeping this team together for some more years, especially AK-47. Let's go Jazz!

TATCCITW
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Response to AK47

In what world do Boozer, Okur and Williams each average 20 plus a game?
I wouldn't start calling those three a Big Three... While the other two a great players Okur is one dimensional and not exactly causing fear amongst his opponent. AK is a solid player, but way overpaid, plain and simple. He a very very good role player but paid like a star.

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