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Bits from Kevin O’Connor Interview, 2/25

February 27, 2013
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How much do you use advanced metrics and analytics?
Any time you can get more information, you get it.

But now, does more information confuse you? Sometimes it can. So it has to go, whether it’s, you know, the analytical part of it, whether it’s the eye test, whether it’s all the information you gather, whether it’s a psychological test, it has to come down to a gut…

You listen to guys talk, and, “Hey, can he play or can’t he play?” That’s one of the things that you do. And then, once you get it in a barrel, I think those analytics are very helpful because maybe you get three or four guys that you really like, and all of a sudden one of them really advances himself in that part of it, and yet he’s equal in the other part of it, well, it gives you your answer.

Did the Jazz’s record in 2013 sway you against making trades?
No. The best time to trade somebody is when you’re playing well. Absolutely the best, because they probably have more value, ok? That’s the first thing.

And the second thing is if you do it, you know you’re doing it not out of a knee-jerk reaction. And if it had been a good long-term gain, we would’ve done it…[The Jazz's record was] irrelevant. Absolutely.

On trades considered
Spencer Checketts: Was there anything that came across your desk that you went “[Checketts makes sound like constipated cow], maybe we should do this?”

KOC: Sure, absolutely. You know, but what happens a lot of times and, is, I think, we’re a little bit more value-oriented. You know, so it’s not like cosmetically we’ve got to do something…

But yeah, there was. And then, a lot of times you say, “OK, you know what? Let’s talk about, we’ll do this and this. You do this and this.” And you have a deal.

“Uhhhhhhahhhhhh. I’ll get back to you.” “Uhhhhwawaaaawawawa.” They, you know, and, because there’s a lot of teams that bottom-fish. And I would hope that we don’t have that reputation. I hope we have the reputation of being tough, and–

Checketts: You do. Just so you know. Hahaha.

On Raja Bell
We’ll be willing to look at a buyout. We’re not just going to let him walk away…He can’t get all the money from us and then go make more with the Lakers.

[Would you keep under contract so he can't play for the Lakers?] Yeah.

We’ve said it from the start. All’s we wanted was a minimum buyout. We never heard from him.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it hard to believe that Raja would be holding out for more money from the Jazz if there was a deal on the table with the Lakers. Would he really give up what could very well be his last shot in the league over $1-2 million when he’s made over $30 million in his career?

This leads me to think that there either isn’t a concrete deal on the table with the Lakers, or the Jazz seriously low-balled him on the buyout terms.

On the young players
You look out there and you got a 20- and a 21- and a 22-year-old. You know, it’s like, “Hello!” with those four kids. They’re improving, and they’re getting almost as much as they can handle right now, and still win. You know, you can put ‘em in a lot more, you could play ‘em a lot more, and we probably wouldn’t win…

The guys to me that are successful are the guys that either have great talent right away, can come into the league and show the talent like a Kevin Durant, and also show that they can win.

What’s the deal with the Jazz’s slow starts?
I wish I had an answer for it. I know [Tyrone Corbin] has tried a lot of different things, talking about how to run different plays, you know, change the defense a little bit at the beginning of the game. He’s tried a lot of things.

On leading by example
[Gordon Hayward] shoots the ball with Jeff Hornacek all the time before, after practice. Well, Jeff and Jeremy [Evans] and Gordon were always shooting, everyday. But the first day of practice, Alec [Burks] looked over and said, “What are they doing?”

I said, “They’re shooting,” and we wanted to see what Alec would do. Alec said, “Well, can I go shoot with them?” I said, “Yeah.” … So that’s the next, that’s a step that happens.

On the Jazz’s poor road record
There’s a lot of teams, I think there’s seven teams, maybe eight teams, seven teams, that have a winning record on the road, you know, out of 23. And it’s a lot of teams with pretty good winning records that don’t have winning records on the road. …

Hopefully we get Mo [Williams] back in a little while. I think that will help a little bit, because he really becomes a guy that can score the basketball at the end of games.

You know, right now, with J–both Earl and, and, and–I’m having a senior moment here–and, and, and Tinsley, are doing a terrific job. You know, the other night against Golden State, they had 10 assists and no turnovers.

But we could use a little bit of scoring, and I think late in the game, when [opponents] have to guard everybody out there, then we’re going to be a little bit better off.

** KOC grew up a…: I grew up a Knicks fan.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2013 8:42 pm

    A couple of concerns:

    1. Does KOC realize that OKC sucked when KD was starting at the beginning of his career?

    (You like acronyms? How ’bout those acronyms?)

    2. The Jazz didn’t “assign” Burks to shoot with Jeff and Gordon? They just waited for him to ask permission? WUT?!

    • February 27, 2013 9:28 pm

      This.

      And thank you for bestowing all those acronyms on me! lol

    • MyKroberts permalink
      February 28, 2013 5:58 am

      Pretty dangerous evidence that we are inept at developing youth….Seriously how is Burks not assigned or atleast made aware of all the tools available to be a successful player. This team has some issues.

  2. Brent E permalink
    February 27, 2013 10:17 pm

    I don’t know that Kevin O’Connor doesn’t always come across the best in these interviews, but I do think he did a pretty good job during his tenure as GM. I really believe most of the moves that look the worst in hindsight made sense at the time, or were made worse through Corbin’s coaching.

    It’s been researched extensively on SLCdunk that the Jazz have had success with second round draft picks (and undrafted talent), and the group of young players on the Jazz look like ones that can be built around. No team has 100% success with their drafted players. Our lottery pick, Deron, was fantastic and our subsequent Lottery picks (Burks/Hayward/Kanter) are all impressive as well.

    Signing Raja Bell looked to be an affordable replacement for Matthews after the Trailblazers gave him that toxic offer sheet; my only regret there is that we didn’t try to lock up Matthews sooner so we weren’t in that position. (In fact, if there’s any major criticism of the KOC regime, it’s choosing a reactive strategy instead of being proactive with personnel decisions.)

    Signing Josh Howard during a lockout shortened seasons when injury and fatigue were expected wasn’t an awful move, Corbin’s playing time made it into one however. Similarly, signing Randy Foye did shore up our three point shooting and he’s having a good year (for Randy Foye). Ultimately choosing a head coach is part of his job responsibility and I’m not sold on Ty’s ability to manage a roster effectively, though I still hold out hope.

    All that’s a roundabout way of my saying I don’t mind him saying something like “it has to come down to a gut…” I think KOC would be valued by every other team in the league for his evaluation of talent and assembling competitive rosters. Some of the things he said are head-scratchers (as Jeff pointed out above) but even looking at his “worst” moves I think the Jazz are competitive today and have the flexibility and assets to “get better” (courtesy of Ty) towards contending for a championship.

    • February 28, 2013 10:26 am

      I think this also applies to Al. If analyzed, a lot of fans’ issues with Big Al are probably due to usage rather than him as a player. If Al were used by Corbin as a cog in the machine rather than as the machine itself, a lot of the complaints about Al would probably disappear.

  3. February 27, 2013 11:54 pm

    Love his answer about the slow starts. As if it’s a DaVinci Code-level mystery. The reasons the Jazz start poorly are simple and obvious:

    1. Three of the five starters are significantly below-average players
    2. The starting lineup as a whole is terrible defensively

    BOOM!

  4. Rafael Amarante permalink
    February 28, 2013 2:55 am

    The “gut” part blew my mind. Expected, but still unbelievable.

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