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They could extend offers to any of the five free agents listed above, but they won’t sign any of them for anything that isn’t a bargain. Plainly said, the Jazz need upgrades at the point guard and wing positions, and they’re willing, at last, to give the younger players big minutes next season to see, once and for all, what they’ve got in them. If no advantageous trades can be made and no difference-making free agents signed this offseason, they even might be willing to wait a year, until the penalties on big spenders get so excessive that those spenders will be willing to let go of talented players they otherwise might have kept.
Back to Thursday’s goodbyes.
One by one the Jazz walked out.
Jefferson said his last team meeting was "a moment I’ll always remember," and he added: "I sit back and think, it could be a totally different Utah Jazz team next year. And then I think, it could be the same team next year."
He knew the truth, though.
Mo Williams said: "You get attached to teammates and to a team. One side of you, you like where you’re at. But the reality of it is, things change."
Millsap said: "It’s a tough day. We all said our goodbyes for the summer. Tough the way this thing ended. But you gotta live with it."
When he was asked if this was the end for him with the Jazz, he answered: "I don’t know. I’m not a psychic. Are you? We got to wait and see what happens."
Asked how emotional that departure would be, he said: "I don’t even want to imagine it right now. I think we all know where we stand — from their perspective and my perspective."
Millsap’s a goner, and he knows it. He even might be looking forward to it. His rejection of a Jazz offer before the season started was symbolic of Thursday’s entire scene. Taken by Utah in the second round of the 2006 draft, he had rearranged the fates to not only make the team, but go on to average 12 points and seven rebounds in his seven years here. In 2010-11, Millsap got 17 points and eight boards a game. This season, he tailed off after the trade deadline and, with so much redundancy at his position, almost certainly will land elsewhere.
After talking to management and the media, he walked from the locker room down the hall and out the door he has walked down and out of a thousand times before, always knowing he would walk that path again.
A mix of melancholy and excitement was the mood as he left the building this time. From a human standpoint, it was kind of sad. From a competitive standpoint, it was necessary.
Saying goodbye is nowhere near as tough as winning is important.
Gordon Monson hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM, 1280 and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.
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