Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Kragthorpe: Jazz will miss Al Jefferson more than Paul Millsap

First Published Apr 18 2013 05:29 pm • Last Updated Apr 19 2013 09:54 am

In the tradition of Jazz legend Karl Malone, center Al Jefferson accidentally referred to "the city of Utah" during an interview Thursday.

If this is the end for Jefferson with the Jazz, his legacy hardly will resemble the Mailman’s, considering Jefferson’s three-year tenure in Salt Lake City includes exactly zero playoff victories.

At a glance

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Yet Jefferson, whose face on the southeast facade of EnergySolutions Arena temporarily hovers above Malone’s statue, deserves to be remembered well around here. He performed better than Paul Millsap in every respect this season. That’s a statement I never would have expected to make, and here’s another: Jefferson will be missed more than Millsap, who may have been the most affected by the free agency-based uncertainty that surrounded this team.

The reality is that neither player will be back next season, unless the market somehow dictates a more affordable price for the Jazz. Otherwise, the team will move on with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter in major roles and rebuild around them.

Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey obviously would not rule out the return of Jefferson or Millsap, but he said, "They’re going to have a ton of options because there’s a lot of money in the market."

Lindsey himself is in a rather enviable position among NBA executives, with roster openings and money to spend.

Then again, his team no longer is playing. Along with coach Tyrone Corbin and Gordon Hayward, Jefferson is someone I really wanted to watch in the playoffs, just to see how he would respond after being overwhelmed by San Antonio last spring.

"It wouldn’t been like last year, that’s my belief," Jefferson said. "But … we’ll never know."

Millsap, meanwhile, was the one player during Thursday’s locker-cleanout interviews who acknowledged the difficult, awkward nature of the season. Maybe that just made him the most forthright Jazzman. But clearly, in his seventh year, he was not the Millsap of old.

The contract situations affecting many of his players undoubtedly made Corbin’s job tougher as he tried to balance developing Favors and Kanter with being loyal to the veterans.


story continues below
story continues below

As Millsap said, "Dealing with free agency, dealing with the rotation … it was tough for everybody, from the players to the coaches to the management."

Asked if he kept the issues from distracting him, Millsap said, "Personally, I’m human, so no. That’s me being honest."

Compared with Jefferson, there’s much more attachment to Millsap, who was drafted by the Jazz. He became a rotation regular for Jazz teams that won 19 playoff games (and four series) from 2007 to 2010, which seems like a long time ago.

Fans embraced Millsap as a humble, hard-working, team-oriented player, in contrast to the perception of Carlos Boozer, a star of those playoff teams.

Arriving from Minnesota as Boozer’s replacement, Jefferson had to overcome his reputation as a "black hole" — a selfish offensive player. "And I lived up to that name," he said good-naturedly.

"I hoped I showed people that I can do other things," he said, "and I’m working my butt off every year to try to get better and better on defense."

Well, he had a lot of improving to do. It’s also true that Jefferson feasted offensively against inferior teams. But Jefferson became the Jazz’s most dependable player, the label once held by Millsap.

So what happens now?

"Once I get to that table, I’m going to cross that bridge," Jefferson said.

"I’m not psychic," Millsap said.

Odds are, they’ll become like Boozer, Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and other ex-Jazzmen who visit ESA, with fans’ responses gauging their popularity. Millsap likely will be better received than Jefferson. But based on this season’s showings, that would not be justified.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.