The Jazz have made a strong play for the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s draft.
Good — no, great — for them.
Not only have they offered the Cavs their No. 5 selection, they’ve thrown in Derrick Favors. When Cleveland asked for more — an additional unprotected first-round pick sometime in the future — the Jazz countered, sweetening the deal with Alec Burks, a player Jazz management is split on. The deal included at least one other piece coming back to the Jazz, all of this coming via 1280 The Zone, which cited well-placed NBA sources.
As of Tuesday morning, the deal was in flux. It might not happen. It probably won’t happen. But it might happen.
Here’s what it means: The Jazz have zeroed in on a player they think will be a star.
Here’s why they’d do it: They need a star, and they know it.
They’ve said again and again that they want to contend for an NBA title, that that’s what they want to provide for their fans, that that’s what they are targeting as they move forward. Gail Miller has said it. Randy Rigby has said it. Dennis Lindsey has said it. The Jazz don’t just want to be good. They’ve had enough of being good. And, plainly spoken, almost everybody around here has had it up to their earlobes with being good. The Jazz have been good for the vast expanse of their time in Utah. Great is a pinnacle they’ve struggled to reach.
A great player is the boost they need to reach it.
Good players get you good. A great player gets you … well, you know.
Some have criticized the Jazz for not re-signing Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap a year ago, and suffering through one of their worst competitive seasons ever as a result. Back then, and in the years leading up to that point, they were fighting to stay on good’s threshold. They were criticized for it — by me and by some others. Keeping the product decent enough to fill most of the seats is good business. It’s … good.
Then they decided to let those veterans go. They decided to develop their young talent, which was a euphemism, a half-truth. More importantly — and they would never say this publicly because, well, they can’t — the Jazz also wanted to lose in order to get a high draft pick, to get their star. They dialed in on this particular draft as the time and place to make that move.
They did not go through the pain of last season to walk away with a nice little building block. Still, they weren’t going to throw games, and maybe they won a couple more than the ideal. On top of that, the Fates, with those devilish ping-pong balls, roughed them up a bit by dropping them down a spot or two or three or four in the lottery from where they had hoped to pick.
How surprising is it, after all that then, that the Jazz are now working a deal hard, trying to position themselves for a player like Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker?
Not at all.
The hell with the Fates.
The Jazz are doing what they can to rearrange their future. Some believe giving away that much to move up to No. 1 from five is foolish. Thucydides said, “Ignorance is bold and knowledge is reserved.”
The hell with Thucydides.
We all know what Virgil said: “Fortune favors the bold.”
Another great philosopher, Queen Latifah, said, “Be bold, be brave enough to be your true self.”
Who are the Jazz, really? Are they supposed to be all circumspect and cautious and, ultimately, afraid? If they want a championship, they have to go for it. Nobody’s saying they should be stupid. But to get something great, sometimes you’ve got to give up a whole lot of good — something along the lines of No. 5, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks — particularly if, in all that time of putting this plan in place, your basketball brains, the people who make a living studying this stuff, saw an embryonic star worth the reach.
If the deal doesn’t happen because, at the end, the Cavs won’t do the dance, and the Jazz end up with Noah Vonleh or Aaron Gordon, at least folks around here will know that Lindsey went for it. Monday’s report revealed that there has been some back and forth regarding who the Jazz prefer — Wiggins or Parker. It’s a tough choice. Word is that parties in the inner sanctum have argued a lot over which player they prefer.
Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s a tie. Either way, the Jazz cannot accomplish their goal, which will take time, without their star, whoever it is. Here’s a certainty: They were not going to win a title as constituted. Spending a lot to get more, in the form of one great player, is a clearer path to the exact place the Jazz so badly want to be.
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.
O Thursday, 4 p.m.
TV • ESPN