All is well in Zion.
No, no, really.
As Jazz players and coaches put punctuation on a 25-57 season by packing up and clearing out on an occasion so magnificently utilitarian in its name — locker-clean-out day — there was good news.
This team is exactly where it figured to be at this point in the plan.
You could have put the whole thing in the books last October.
Even Ty Corbin uttered these words: “It was what I expected.”
Where precisely are the Jazz? Right here: in fine position to add more young talent to their roster.
No telling precisely which draft pick the Jazz will get, seeing that that’s the business of the lottery gods and their ping pong balls, but at least they’re in the game, having lost enough to give them a shot at something — someone — who can do more than barely nudge them along. They simply have to pick the right guy.
So, now, the plan moves on to that next step.
And it’s all good.
As defeat stacked up this season, too many people around here lost hope and lost faith alongside those losses to the Bucks, the Lakers, the Grizzlies, the Nuggets, the Clippers, the Blazers, the Cavs, the Mavs, the Suns, the … (fill in the blank).
That same frustration was evident on the faces and in the words of the players as they pondered their accomplishments and spoke about their shortcomings on Thursday. Nobody seemed thrilled. Not the least of which was Corbin.
“It was a long season,” he said. “A lot of ups and downs. … With young guys you have more of those rollercoaster rides. And your emotions go with it.”
There was no hint given about the coach’s status. But the mystery shouldn’t last much longer, maybe just a couple of days. If the Jazz keep Corbin, it behooves them to go fast. If they don’t keep him, it behooves them to go faster. There are subsequent decisions to make, schemes to set, lumber to get into the shed as the lottery draws near (May 20), and the draft and free-agent-signing period approach. Fiddling in the middle does no good. Speculation and conjecture helps no one, including — but not exclusive to — the people who will or might slap good money down now to buy tickets to watch this team play next year.
Asked if he thought, in his heart of hearts, he would be back, Corbin said: “I always think I’ll be where I am. Always.”
And I always think I look like Brad Pitt. Always.
Doesn’t make it so.
On clean-out day, the players were bumming, but also seeing the bright side.
“It was a learning experience for everyone involved,” Gordon Hayward said. “We’ll all be better basketball players because of it. Obviously, there was a lot of frustration involved in the season, but, at the end of the day, it was good for us as individuals to get these experiences.”
He added that, as far as his own future goes, he would think about that now that basketball was done: “That’s why you hire an agent. We’ll sit down during the summer and discuss … it’s a business. Whatever happens happens. Can’t thank the people of Utah enough for what they’ve given me so far.”
He also mentioned the difficulty of trying to develop young players while winning games: “For the most part, we stuck together. That’s difficult to do in a season like this when you’re losing a lot of basketball games. You [could] turn on each other. You start pointing fingers. We realized we’re a young team, trying to develop and grow and at the same time win games. That’s a hard thing to do. Experience is pretty valuable and we didn’t have much. … You can’t teach experience and chemistry.”
Said Marvin Williams: “Everyone was frustrated. … It was a mental challenge. We’ll watch film this summer and get better.”
Added Richard Jefferson, speaking on the progress of some of his young teammates and the way they played together: “It takes patience. It takes time.”
Enes Kanter said on Thursday what everyone except Corbin already knew: the young guys should have played more. He could have also said the losses were inconsequential.
Pay no attention, then, to the 25 wins, or the 57 losses.
It will be OK.
It will be all right — as long as the right decisions from here on out are made.
“The future is bright,” Jefferson said. “The fans of the Utah Jazz should be happy.”
The plan might take a while, maybe two or three more seasons to fill out. A whole lot more defense needs to be played, better shooting is a requirement. But, look around, the Jazz are in a better place than most lottery teams. They have better young talent. They have the aforementioned shot to add to that young talent. They are not burdened by heavy, undesirable contracts. They have money to spend.
As for those players they already have, those guys got the W-L record all of us predicted they’d get. No more, no less. Many of the losses came blasting out of the fire hose, not because the youngsters flat-out sucked, rather because they were green. None of them are budding superstars, but a few of them can be pretty darn good. They need to work on poise, communication and commitment, especially on defense.
But it’ll be OK.
It can be OK.
At this point, at the end of this season, that’s enough.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.