Ask the Utah Jazz expert: 'Bird' season in Utah?
Question » What do you think about Chris Andersen in a Jazz uniform? He is an unrestricted free agent. If Carlos Boozer opts out and leaves, he would make a great backup to Paul Millsap and Millsap Okur and be the shot-blocking, hustling defensive player the Jazz need.
- Jason Pratt
Answer » Andersen, who turns 31 on July 7, had an outstanding season for the Nuggets and was a big reason they won the Northwest Division and reached the Western Conference finals.
In only 21 minutes a game, Andersen averaged 6.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots and helped unhappy Nugget fans forget about the team's unpopular offseason decision to dump salary by sending center Marcus Camby to the Clippers for next-to-nothing.
As you say, Andersen becomes an unrestricted free agent in a couple of weeks. Even though he has expressed a desire to stay in Denver, I'm guessing a number of teams have talked or will talk to his agent.
Andersen's ability to contribute without needing the basketball gives him an extremely marketable skill in today's NBA. He is a role player who can impact a game with his rebounding and shot-blocking.
Offensively, Andersen is extremely limited. He does not own a 15-foot jump shot and, even around the basket, he doesn't score as much as he should.
In the conference finals against the Lakers, I thought Andersen's inability to convert shots at the rim seriously hurt Denver in a couple of games it had a chance to win.
Of course, any team signing Andersen won't be as interested in his offense as it is in his ability to rebound and protect the basket with his shot-blocking.
Again, you correctly point out that the Jazz are woefully lacking in such a player. Utah is a small, soft team on defense that could get smaller and softer, depending on what happens in free agency with Boozer, Okur and Millsap.
Andersen is the kind of player the Jazz need. The only drawback, in my opinion, is the "Birdman" persona that made him a cult figure in Denver this season. He became a poor man's Dennis Rodman, which isn't exactly a good thing.
Remember when Jazz center Kyrylo Fesenko showed up last summer with bleached blond hair?
Coach Jerry Sloan responded by saying that, if Fesenko wanted to draw attention to himself, he should do it by grabbing 20 rebounds.
Undoubtedly, Andersen and the Jazz would have to come to an understanding about his attention-grabbing style of play before either side signed a contract.
Whether that could possibly happen, I suppose, depends on the amount of money the Jazz would be willing to offer because, I suspect, even the Birdman has his price. For the right money, he could probably be convinced get rid of the spiked Mohawk hair-cut and Rodman-like reaction every time he blocks a shot.