Kragthorpe: Can't call these guys the 'same old Jazz'
In marketing multiple-game ticket plans for the 2012-13 season, the Jazz have created packages for fans interested in catching visiting superstars, spending weekend nights at EnergySolutions Arena and getting the best value.
They missed the obvious opportunity: The Ex-Jazzmen Tour.
These guys are everywhere, from Brooklyn to Portland and points in between.
The makeover of the Jazz's roster and the stocking of other NBA teams is stunning, since the franchise's most recent playoff victory came in a close-out Game 6 against Denver in May 2010. Only forward Paul Millsap is left from that team, although that recognition did not seem to jolt him as he looked around the Zions Bank Basketball Center during Monday's media day event.
"It's kind of weird, man, but you know how it is: That's the life we chose," said Millsap, who's entering his seventh season in Utah. "It's good to see new faces. I know a lot of these guys and they're going to be key contributors to our team. This franchise is headed in the right direction with the moves they made."
C.J. Miles is the only player from the 2010 playoff team to have departed during the recent offseason, but the two-year overhaul is remarkable.
Mo Williams, Marvin Williams and Randy Foye have joined (or rejoined, in the case of Mo Williams) the Jazz, creating a new dynamic. A team that paired John Stockton and Karl Malone together for 18 seasons has rebuilt itself with one cast of characters (Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and others) in one phase and is doing so again with another generation of rising stars (Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward), the newly acquired veterans and whoever else will be surrounding them in the years to come.
With eight players in contract years, who knows how the Jazz will look next October? If Millsap is traded or departs as a free agent, they'll have nobody left from the previous decade.
And with the trade of Devin Harris to Atlanta (for Marvin Williams) and the acquisition of Mo Williams from the Los Angeles Clippers, the Jazz already have their second starting point guard since Deron Williams, who left town only 20 months ago.
Even amid the turnover, "We have good continuity," said general manager Dennis Lindsey.
Of course, he's also new.
Yet his reasoning is sound.
The Jazz have changed nearly all the players and coaches in two years only Tyrone Corbin, who was promoted to replace Jerry Sloan, is left from Sloan's staff but a certain Jazz culture remains intact. That's enforced by Lindsey's supervisor, executive vice president Kevin O'Connor, and ownership.
With the notable exception of Raja Bell, whose resistance to playing along with Corbin and the organization earned him a vacation from training camp, the players seem to have embraced the franchise's consistent approach of fitting in and trying to improve and overachieve on the court.
So let another round of blending begin. "I wouldn't say I'm excited about the turnover, but I'm excited about where we are now," said Jazz CEO Greg Miller. "Personally, I'm as excited about being part of the Utah Jazz as I've ever been, just because of the ingredients and the factors that have come together to put us where we are right now."
While they've improved, so have other Western Conference teams including Minnesota, with Andrei Kirilenko, whose albatross of a contract triggered much of the Jazz's roster reconfiguring. He's among 11 players from the 2010 team who could visit ESA this season with eight different teams.
So regardless of what happens this season, nobody can say this is the same, old Jazz. The immediate goal should be to reprise their achievement of 2010 by just winning a playoff game.
Where are they now?
The partial boxscore from the Jazz's final game of 2009-10, a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Lakers:
Player Minutes Current team
C.J. Miles 36 Cleveland
Carlos Boozer 37 Chicago
Kyrylo Fesenko 30 Chicago
Wesley Matthews 38 Portland
Deron Williams 43 Brooklyn
Paul Millsap 25 Jazz
Andre Kirilenko 12 Minnesota
Kyle Korver 11 Atlanta
Ronnie Price 3 Portland
Kosta Koufos 2 Denver
Othyus Jeffers 2 -
Sundiata Gaines 2 Indiana
Mehmet Okur DNP* -