Monson: Snooze of a draft night leaves the Jazz with work to do
Day of 47 proves to be real snooze

By Gordon Monson

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: June 30, 2012 07:56PM
Updated: July 14, 2012 05:06PM

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Is it over yet?

One by one, the picks dragged off the NBA Draft board Thursday night and, speaking of bored, that’s what everyone assembled at EnergySolutions Arena was. Halfway through the deliberate drip, one Jazz employee asked if somebody, anybody, would please, mercifully, hit him in the forehead with a board.

No, it wasn’t Kevin O’Connor.

It was someone who wished he were O’Connor.

For the Jazz, the 2012 draft was never certain to bring much. No matter how many propagandists tried to keep people’s attention riveted on the prospects of the Jazz grabbing something useful with their solitary scheduled pick at No. 47, only the desperate could keep hope alive with that.

Good thing, because it never fully came, not even after guard Kevin Murphy was selected by O’Connor four hours in.

Who?

K-e-v-i-n M-u-r-p-h-y. He’s a 6-foot-7 guard who scored 20 points a game last season for Tennessee Tech. He did once drop 50 points on Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. How he’ll do against the Lakers is another matter.

“I’m excited to come,” Murphy said, afterward. “I feel like I’ll be all right.”

The Jazz had beaten the odds deep in the second round before, but to believe they did it again here, scouring through eight-inch rough on the edge of being out of bounds to find their wayward Titleist, was a mighty stretch.

Instead, the Jazz, who were aggressive in trying to get something bigger done, without success, worked a three-team deal that included the Clippers and Dallas. The Mavs would send Lamar Odom to L.A. and get $8.5 million of the Jazz’s $10 million trade exception, and Utah would get Mo Williams, once he opted in on the last year of his deal.

If he opts in.

By the end of the night, nobody was yet sure whether Williams would agree to return here. Ironically, he was the Jazz’s 47th pick in the 2003 draft, and slipped away later when he signed a second-round offer sheet with Milwaukee.

O’Connor said letting that happen was his biggest mistake running the Jazz. Now, he and the rest of management hope to get him back.

“I like Mo,” Ty Corbin said. “He’s a tremendous talent. ... And he has a lot left in the tank.”

Said Jeff Hornacek: “You can always use shooters.”

The Jazz need shooters, and Williams is that.

Still, there were the other peach-cobbler-in-the-sky possibilities.

The Jazz could have used some of their other assets to get more business done. But O’Connor said the club could connect with no willing trade partner to complete any advantageous significant deal before or during the draft.

“Nobody was that interested,” O’Connor said.

The notion that the Jazz could or should make a dramatic move was a sound one. They have traffic along their front line, jamming up the development of emerging big men Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. And they have holes to fill.

Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are entering the final year of their deals, as is Devin Harris, and players with expiring contracts are attractive commodities in the modern NBA. Millsap, in particular, despite his being undersized, had to have value for some team, given the more economical numbers in what’s left of his contract and his reputation as a pro’s pro. Jefferson’s deal, though, was and is heavy.

Whispers swirled in the run-up to the draft that the Jazz wanted to make a move into lottery range. As mentioned, they need plenty of perimeter help, and the presence of Weber State’s Damian Lillard, a player they had scouted in a huge way, seemed to be on everyone’s mind.

Lillard ended up going to Portland at the sixth spot.

The prospects, then, for what might happen provided a lot more excitement Thursday than anything that actually did.

Beyond the Williams deal, if it happens, draft night left the Jazz to find dramatic improvement along other avenues, although those are narrow. There are no interested big free agents for them to lure in. And outside of trades around the draft, the Jazz rarely engage in blockbuster deals. They could add a few minor pieces and they hope to make progress from their young core working hard to improve over the offseason.

But they need major progress — and a real star — to lead them from the brackish backwater of being a lower-level playoff team to the rare and refreshing clear water of becoming a true contender.

None of that was gained out of the numbing humdrum of an extraordinarily quiet draft on Thursday night.

GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.