Jazz aim higher
Having earned the No. 6 pick in the NBA draft with an unhappy 26-win season, the Jazz are close to figuring out what they want to do with it.
Vice president of basketball operations Kevin O'Connor wants to trade into the top three, where Utah would be assured of getting the high-caliber point guard it desperately needs.
The Jazz are drooling over Illinois' Deron Williams - who along with Wake Forest's Chris Paul is one of the top two point guards in the draft - and Utah officials are apparently working feverishly to get him.
A league source told The Salt Lake Tribune Sunday night that the Jazz and Trail Blazers are involved in "intense discussions" about a possible trade.
According to the source, Portland would take Williams with the No. 3 pick. The Jazz would then take one of three players who interest the Blazers - high schoolers Gerald Green and Martell Webster or Arizona center Channing Frye.
Utah would have to throw something else into the deal - perhaps the 27th pick and/or the 34th pick in the draft. But Portland is believed to be willing to move down without asking for more than the Jazz can afford.
than the Jazz can afford.
In recent days, O'Connor has declined to comment on all pre-draft trade rumors.
If Utah can't move up and stays at No. 6, the Jazz won't get Williams or Paul. Both New Orleans and Charlotte, which pick ahead of Utah, want point guards. Neither Williams nor Paul will drop out of the top five.
Barring a trade, the Jazz's decision would probably come down to Frye or North Carolina point guard Raymond Felton.
Though players like Webster and New Mexico's Danny Granger would remain on the radar screen at No. 6, the Jazz would likely find themselves in a position of trying to answer one of the draft's perennial questions: Do you take the highest-rated player or fill a need?
Frye (6-11, 250) probably will be the Jazz's highest-rated player on the board when they make their first pick in Tuesday night's draft.
"He's a pretty talented guy," coach Jerry Sloan said. "It looks like he can shoot the ball a little bit, and he can pass the ball a little bit."
If the Jazz don't take Frye, he is not expected to last past Golden State at No. 9.
Felton's fate is more uncertain.
After playing three seasons at North Carolina, he is the No. 3-ranked point guard in the draft behind Paul and Williams.
Some scouts rate Felton just behind Paul and Williams, but others rate him several notches below. If Utah passes, he could slide out of the lottery. Felton could end up going to Minnesota at No. 14 or Toronto at No. 16 if Utah decides to pass on him.
Frye has another advantage over Felton, besides being a higher-rated player.
He's bigger - a true center - and that makes him a valuable commodity in the NBA.
Just ask University of Utah product Andrew Bogut. He is considered the top center in the draft and, almost certainly, he will be taken by Milwaukee with the No. 1 pick.
Oddly, Bogut isn't getting much help in his bid to be the top pick from former Utah coach Rick Majerus.
A couple weeks ago, Majerus questioned Bogut's athleticism and hinted that his nearsightedness might be a degenerative-type eye disease that could impact his career.
The Bucks have checked out Bogut's eyesight and found Majerus to be "1,000 percent wrong," a team source said.
Over the weekend, however, Majerus was at it again.
He told the Chicago Sun-Times that North Carolina's Marvin Williams, the consensus No. 2 pick in the draft, would be his choice at No. 1.
"I know that's going against the grain of thought on the streets of Milwaukee," Majerus told the newspaper. "But that's what I honestly feel. And don't forget, I'm a long-term kind of basketball mind. I know all the pluses with Bogut, and I know the minuses. Yes, he is a legitimate big man and he will probably have a more immediate impact that Williams. And maybe that's what the Bucks need. But I have said all along . . . that I think Williams is special."