Jazz Players Relieved Trade Talks Have Passed
The yearly blitz at the NBA trade deadline spares no one from its methodical path; from established veterans all the way down to promising young talents, everyone around the league has the potential to be placed on the trading block during this time period.
The trade deadline also leaves players on teams in the middle of the pack in a state of uncertainty, as they’re unsure whether the franchise will blow the roster up to start a rebuilding project or retool on the fly in order to make a deeper playoff push.
For instance, the Utah Jazz compiled a woeful 8-15 record from February 1 to March 14 during the height of the trade talk speculations while boasting a solid assortment of big men. Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors all generated plenty of trade interest around the league.
Jefferson wouldn’t fully admit the trade deadline was the cause of the team’s struggles in February and early March but he is certainly glad the trade winds have passed and the team can now focus on making a playoff run as currently constructed.
“Most guys on this team have been around long enough to know when the trade deadline comes everybody’s name will be thrown in the rumors,” Jefferson told HOOPSWORLD. “That’s just part of the business. I don’t think it really affected us, but to answer your question, yes I’m glad that it’s behind us now so we know this is who we got and who we’re going to roll with. “
It definitely shows on the court.
Since the trade deadline expired on March 15, the Jazz have won six out of their last seven contests, with the only defeat coming in a quadruple-overtime road thriller versus the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.
One Jazz player who is feeling a lot more comfortable these days with the trade hysteria in the rearview is talented and young forward Derrick Favors.
Favors was selected with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2010 draft by the New Jersey Nets, but was involved in trade rumors essentially from day one with the franchise before the club finally dealt him to Utah last February.
The former Georgia Tech standout says he was told by Jazz management before the deadline that he wouldn’t be packaged in any deal this season and it immediately put his mind at ease.
“A sense of relief,” Favors told HOOPSWORLD on knowing he wouldn’t be traded. “Just knowing you’re going to be with a team, no matter if you have a good game or bad game … that you’ll still be there tomorrow. I’d definitely say it was a sense of relief.”
Jefferson, who has been traded twice in his career, says the trade talk no longer bothers him as it did when he first entered the league and predicts Favors will one day shrug off the rumors as he gains more experience with the business side of the NBA.
“Probably in my first three years [the trade deadline] affected me a little bit because your name is always coming up,” Jefferson said. “But not now … not even close. At the end of the day, the worst thing that can happen is that you do get traded, but you’re still in this business playing basketball.”
Jazz Guaranteeing A Playoff Berth?
If the playoffs were to begin today Utah would be in as a seventh seed.
“If we continue to play hard and continue to play the way we’re playing then yes I really believe we can,” Jefferson said on getting into the postseason. “We just have to keep it up, but there’s still a long way to go.”
However, Jazz faithful shouldn’t get too comfortable just yet.
Expect the fight for the last two seeds in the Western Conference to be a game of musical chairs down the stretch as the separation between the seventh seed to the current twelfth place team (Portland) is a mere three games.
Houston, Utah, Phoenix, Minnesota, Denver and Portland will be players down the stretch for one of the last spots but Jefferson believes things have clicked enough within the Jazz locker room to ultimately clinch a bid.
“I feel like everybody is on the same page right now,” Jefferson said. “It’s a good vibe around the locker room and everybody is not only playing hard but we’re having fun. I think that’s very important for a young team. The guys on this team realize, including myself, that we could be a great team if we can stay consistent and playing hard. We’re starting to figure it out.”
Corbin High On Jamaal Tinsley:
As the Jazz make their late season playoff push, one player who won’t garner much mainstream attention or headlines will be veteran guard Jamaal Tinsley.
But don’t mistake the lack of attention from the masses with Tinsley’s overall importance to the Jazz’s postseason hopes.
Jazz head coach Ty Corbin has gone on record saying he has definitive plans to lean more heavily on Tinsley’s leadership over the last month of the season.
“He’s a veteran point guard that’s been a tremendous pro for us all year long,” Corbin said of Tinsley. “He’s done everything right, said all of the right things and he’s shored up a position for us because he’s another player who has been in a stars’ role in this league and understands what it takes to be successful and run a team.”
A current season stat line of 3.5 points and 3 assists on 41 percent shooting won’t excite the casual fan (and is far below Tinsley’s prime averages), but having a player on the roster who was a full-time starter in the league for seven seasons has plenty of intangible benefits in and of itself.
“To have him as another point guard is an asset, especially when our guys were hurt,” Corbin said. “When Devin [Harris] got hurt, he was able to start the same night for us. Earl [Watson] went down and he stepped up for us. He’s playing very well for us. He’s done a great job all year keeping himself in tremendous shape and being ready for his opportunity.”
If the Jazz are to clinch a postseason berth this season it will be the unheralded guys such as Tinsley stepping up in their limited roles during clutch situations.
With 39 playoff games under his belt during a nine year career, Tinsley may be right at home during those moments over the last month of the season.