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Utah Jazz: Almond shows game
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It appears the Utah Jazz are torn on deciding whether or not to match the four-year, $15 million offer sheet C.J. Miles received from Oklahoma City, a decision which must be made today.

Adding to the quandary, although nobody in the organization wants to admit it, is the play of Morris Almond in the Rocky Mountain Revue. Almond, this week, has looked like a player who's NBA ready. He's scored nearly at will against his competition. His defense, awful last season, has improved. He's stopped relying on his jump shot, instead taking the ball to the basket and getting to the line.

He's simply become a better all-around player.

"He's really impressed this week," said Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin. "He's mixed his game up, and he's realized that there are other things to the game than scoring."

All of which brings us back to Miles. If the Jazz match the lucrative offer Miles receives, it will become extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Almond not to begin his season with the Utah Flash in Orem. Should the Jazz let Miles go, there's opportunity for Almond to contribute at the NBA level, as it appears he's quite capable of doing.

It's enough of a thought to drive a man crazy. But Almond knows that this is one thing that's out of his control. Earlier in the week, it looked as if matching the Miles offer would be tough. But with the trade of Jason Hart to the Los Angeles Clippers for Brevin Knight and the subsequent money that the Jazz saved with it, matching the offer sheet may have become that much more feasible.

When asked about it, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said that a player dictates his destiny. But Almond and Miles play the same position, which means, in a loaded Jazz backcourt, that there may not be room for the both of them.

"Morris is under contract for this year," O'Connor said. "How he plays is what's going to affect him. Not what we do with somebody else."

Almond simply shrugged his shoulders and smiled when presented with the same question of what the Miles offer sheet would mean for him.

"I'm going to go out and play the best that I can regardless of the situation," Almond said. "This isn't something that I can control, so I have to go out, play hard, and let the chips fall where they may."

On Thursday night, in an 83-78 win over the Atlanta Hawks, Almond was the best player on the court, scoring a game-high 29 points, while hitting 10 of 19 shots from the field. He also got to the line 10 times. If there is one impressive aspect to Almond's game over the course of the week, consider that he's the only legit scoring threat on the roster. Rookie first round draft pick Kosta Koufos has been up and down.

It's clear, judging by his 12 minutes of action on Thursday night, that the organization isn't happy with the way Kyrylo Fesenko has played over the course of the week.

So the scoring has been up to Almond, and everyone knows it, including the opposition.

tjones@sltrib.com

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