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Interview: O'Connor discusses Jazz's offseason, future — part I

Published September 16, 2010 10:55 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Transcript of an interview with Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor conducted Wednesday at the team's practice facility.O'Connor on where the team is at after a hectic summer, and with less than two weeks remaining before training camp for the 2010-11 season:I'll let the court of public opinion evaluate it. The biggest thing is how it'll translate into wins and losses. That's really the only thing that your report card is judged on. Obviously, adding Al Jefferson is a big key. We lost some good players, and I think we got some good players coming into replace them. Now, how that translates into team efficiency, playing in close games and playing on the road, we don't know yet. But I don't think the cupboard's bare. And the Miller family stepped up to the plate, obviously, and spent the money to put us in a situation where we can keep some continuity for a team that's got a good core.On the Jazz's realistic ability to compete with teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat:Nobody's been able to compete with the Lakers over the last three years in the [Western Conference]. We've gotten beaten by them the last three years [in the playoffs], and everybody else has. It's not just us. We just have happened to see them earlier in the schedule than we wanted to. In the last four years I think when we've been in the playoffs, we've gotten beat by the world champions three times and by the runner up once. We've also won three away series — give coach [Jerry Sloan] credit. Last year, I don't think anybody in the league would have given us a [chance] once [Mehmet] Okur went down. Especially after having him and [Andrei] Kirilenko out; we lose the first game over in Denver, then win in six. And I think that's a credit to Deron Williams and a credit to our coaching staff; we were able to do that. How do we overcome the Lakers? We keep trying to get better. And we keep trying to get better from within. And that's one of the things that I don't think people understand. I expect Paul Millsap to be a better player this year. He's 26. I expect Deron to be better. I expect C.J. [Miles] to be better. I expect Fesenko to be better. I hope Andrei can play the way he played before he got hurt. And if he does that and we add those other pieces, then we can be pretty good. All indications are the guy's had a good summer, so we'll wait and see.On Kirilenko's future with the team and his $17.8 million expiring contract:I think the key thing is, Andrei's got to play this year. He's got to worry about his contract mentally. And we all understand that, and that's part of it. If he plays well, it helps us, it helps him. We don't talk to Andrei about his contract. But Andrei's a key for us. And he's a big key. I think we went 20-4 at one point last season when he was playing very well. And he's been hurt the last two years. He's a key. We expect Andrei to have a big season for us. ... He's on our team. If we can improve our team — and I've said this from day one — if we can improve our team, we'll look at doing that. But we're not looking to make any moves.On the Jazz now being Williams' team after Carlos Boozer's departure:I think it's [owner] Greg Miller's team. I think Greg Miller owns the team. I think Deron's leadership skills have improved and will continue to improve. He's now quote, unquote a 'young veteran' that's accomplished an awful lot in his six years that he's been in the league. And we expect more from him.On filling out open roster spots during training camp:When you have roster spots, guys are interested in them when you don't have guaranteed contracts. I think we would have the opportunity to give players a chance to compete. This week and next week are kind of the weeks that you can fill that out a little bit. We've got some young players that we'll take a look at.

— Brian T. Smith

Twitter: tribjazz