Happy Happy Odds and Ends
1. From the Deseret News just one day ago:
If they opt against matching [Wesley Matthews' offer sheet]…it’s very possible Utah will consider going with a defensive-minded perimeter over a long-distance specialist.
“It would be nice if you can incorporate both (with the same player),” O’Connor said, “but I don’t know if you can or not.”
As I read this yesterday, I was thinking “Yes there is! Raja Bell!!” and getting kind of mad because there were all these rumors about Bell going to LA, San Antonio, or Miami, and none about him coming to Utah. There was seriously not one hint of a whisper about this signing before ESPN’s Marc Stein broke the story seven hours ago. Three cheers for Kevin O’Connor and his stealthy, under-the-radar ways.
Per Raja’s agent via sltrib: “Kevin has been after him from the beginning. Things just fell into place quickly today. Raja is thrilled to be back in [Salt Lake City]! He loved his time there” / and via desnews: “Before free agency began, I asked Raja to give me a short list of teams and the Jazz were on it. He really wants to play for (coach) Jerry Sloan again!”
For me, the best part(s) about Raja’s return are leadership, toughness, and defense. For many Jazz fans, the best part is that he spurned the Lakers to sign with the Jazz.
But Bell snapped up Utah’s offer, despite…all the lobbying he received from Bryant in the form of phone and text messages. With Bell originally planning to attend Wednesday’s ESPYS in Los Angeles, Bell and Bryant agreed to set up an in-person discussion in conjunction with the trip.
With a helicopter arranged to transport him to the evening meeting with Bryant, Bell had to notify his longtime foil that the Lakers were no longer an option and the meeting was scrapped. (ESPN)
I imagine that this puts a smile on the face of every Jazz fan and Laker hater out there.
2. Al Jefferson has arrived in Salt Lake City (with his NBA-player-requisite Louis Vuitton luggage in tow):
One of the things he said upon landing was, “It’s going to be an honor to play for [Jerry Sloan]. I’ve always had respect for him. (He coached) Karl Malone, Carlos Boozer, two of the best power forwards in the game, and hopefully he can turn me into one of them.” (desnews). You have to like that.
3. Meanwhile, all the fans that are concerned with keeping Deron happy to prevent him from fleeing have got to be ecstatic:
4. AK has decided against playing in the FIBA World Championship next month. Per the original Russian article and Google Translate, the Jazz told AK that they would prefer it if he didn’t play so that he can get healthy, but left the final decision to him. AK, meanwhile, felt that he has no right to disregard the Jazz’s position since the team pays his salary, and wanted to respect the team’s stance. He further said that it was a painful decision and that he understands [Russian] fans will be indignant–as he himself would be if he were a fan–but that he has an obligation to the Jazz to come to camp in the best shape and health possible, especially since he could potentially be asked to play a bigger role next year with the departures of Boozer and Korver.
5. Finally, KSL posted a [Jazzman] Raja Bell highlight video. It’s worth watching for the following reasons:
1) You can hear the lady who rang the bell every time Raja scored. (Ah, the good ol’ days. I loved that ’03-’04 team.) I wonder if she’s coming back.
2) Hot Rod’s play-by-play. “Raja rings the bell!”
3) Young AK and his mohawk and Memo in his oversized jersey that flopped from side to side as he ran.
4) If you miss them: Raul Lopez, Matt Harpring before injuries stole his body, the Seattle Supersonics, and even Carlos Boozer.
5) Oh yeah, Raja Bell highlights.