Jazz: Now it's Brewer's name in trade talk
No matter that they have won five of their last six games and completed a season sweep of San Antonio for just the second time in franchise history Wednesday. There is still no respite for the Jazz right now when it comes to trade rumors.
The Jazz were greeted Thursday by a report from the Memphis Commercial Appeal that the Grizzlies were discussing a deal through which they would acquire Ronnie Brewer from Utah for one or more draft picks.
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor declined to comment, but the team was not believed to have initiated any talks with Memphis and was disappointed to be dealing with the subject at a time when it is enjoying one of its best stretches of the season.
Between Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and now Brewer, the volume of trade rumors involving Jazz players has been far louder than in recent seasons with nearly a month to go until the Feb. 18 trade deadline.
O'Connor said the Jazz were "looking at anything that can help out the team but not anything about short-term gains or cosmetics." He added that he would defer to coach Jerry Sloan when it comes to dealing with the potential distractions of trade season.
Even after last month's deal that sent rookie first-round pick Eric Maynor and injured forward Matt Harpring to Oklahoma City, the Jazz's full-season salary commitments leave them about $4.8 million above the NBA's luxury-tax threshold of $69.92 million.
Their commitment to getting under the tax threshold by the trade deadline is a subject of much speculation, with O'Connor saying earlier this month that the Jazz would not do so "at all costs."
The Grizzlies have the salary-cap space to take on Brewer, who is making $2.7 million, without having to send the Jazz a player in return. Such a deal would leave the Jazz just $2.1 million over the tax threshold, but at the cost of their 2006 first-round pick.
Brewer has been a full-time starter the last 21/2 seasons, though he will be a restricted free agent this summer. He is the last remaining member of the Jazz's young core of players, including Deron Williams, Paul Millsap and C.J. Miles, not signed long term.
The Grizzlies are not willing to part with their 2010 first-round pick, but would consider the late first-round picks they are owed from Denver and the L.A. Lakers, according to the Commercial Appeal , which added the Jazz might also be seeking a 2011 pick.
However, the Grizzlies were considering other guards in addition to Brewer, according to the report, having shown interest in Miami's Dorell Wright as well as free agent Von Wafer.
With the Grizzlies trailing the Jazz by 11/2 games as both teams battle for one of the Western Conference's bottom playoff seeds, making public any interest in Brewer could be self-serving from Memphis' standpoint.
The trade talk largely overshadowed the excitement of Wednesday's victory in San Antonio, which came as Williams, Boozer and Kirilenko combined to score 75 of the Jazz's 105 points.
"I think our confidence is really high right now," Williams said. "With the exception of the Denver game, I thought we played really well in spurts, and I think we're becoming more consistent as the season's gone on and hopefully we can keep doing that.
"I think we're starting to realize what we've got to do to win basketball games is help each other defensively and not be selfish offensively."
Briefly » Williams and Boozer received a boost to their All-Star candidacies Wednesday when Steve Nash pulled ahead of Tracy McGrady in the final returns of fan voting to win the starting guard spot opposite Kobe Bryant on the Western Conference team.
Williams is likely competing for one or two guard spots among a group that includes Brandon Roy and Chauncey Billups, while Boozer is likely competing with Zach Randolph and Chris Kaman for one or two forward/center spots.