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Ask the Expert: Jazz need Price to be right now

Published February 2, 2009 12:21 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Why is Ronnie Price not getting the playing time he has earned and deserves? I don't think I have ever questioned Jerry Sloan's coaching, but this bothers me. It kills me to see Brevin Knight coming in as the back-up, instead of Price. ... Maybe you see something I don't. But I need to know why Price is not getting the playing time I think he deserves.

-- Ren Wightman

Answer » Every Ronnie Price fan out there is going to get their wish and see him play Monday night against Charlotte.

With Deron Williams sidelined with a knee injury, which he suffered in Saturday night's beat-down in Portland, coach Jerry Sloan says Price will start against the Bobcats. Brevin Knight will continue coming off the bench.

Knight has not played well recently. His outside shooting, which has never been a strength during his NBA career, has completely disappeared in the past couple of weeks. Still, Sloan has stayed with Knight for 6 to 12 minutes per game because of his experience and quarterbacking ability.

Remember, Price owned the back-up point guard job at the start of the season. He won it during training camp and had some good moments in November. Then, he lost it.

In my opinion, Price's grip on the job started to slip when he began neglecting his quarterbacking duties in favor of seeking out his own shots. This was particularly noticeable when the Jazz were in possession of the basketball at the end of a quarter or at the end of the half.

Looking for the last shot, Price almost always ended up taking it, with mixed results.

I don't blame Price, really. He was a scorer in college at Utah Valley and, when you are a No. 2 point guard in the NBA, minutes and scoring opportunities can be scare. You take them whenever you can.

Still, I don't think that's what Sloan wants from his second-team point guard because -- at least when everybody is healthy -- Utah has enough players who can score coming off the bench.

That's why Sloan turned to Knight in the first place and has stayed with him during his recent shooting slump. Knight does not need to score to be effective, and he knows it.

On the other hand, Knight must start knocking down a few shots to keep a defense honest. Opponents are starting to leave him alone, meaning they essentially have five players guarding four when he is on the floor.

Starting against Charlotte, Knight also has to start scoring -- at least a little bit -- because the Jazz's second unit has been depleted by injuries to Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and now Williams.

Utah's other off-the-bench scorers at this point are Matt Harpring, Kyle Korver and Kosta Koufos. That's why it's clear to me the decimated Jazz need some scoring from the back-up point guard, whether that player continues to be Knight or Sloan eventually goes back to Price.