The Long and Short of It Odds and Ends: The Long
1. Let me start by expressing the sentiments of both myself and TazzJazzFan by remarking on how amazing it is that both Al Jefferson and Raja Bell WANTED to come to Utah. Utah was AJ’s first choice, while Raja turned down a chance to play with both LAL (my fingers and keyboard reject the notion of referring to them as the champs), and his hometown Miami Heat, which, as recently as 10 days ago, was his first choice:
…on Tuesday, Bell said his top three destinations are the state of Florida — either the Heat or the Magic — because “my parents and my sister would get a chance to see their nephews and their grandsons,” the New York area — either the Knicks or the Nets — because he also has family in that area or the Mavericks because of how the organization treated him when he played there back in 2002-03. (ESPN)
2. So Raja gave up the chance to be near his family…why? The Jazz offering him a longer contract than other teams for sure had sway, but there were two [other] major reasons: He wants to contribute, and Jerry.
a) “[A potential] championship [with the Lakers] doesn’t hold the same kind of weight in your heart if you’re just kind of along for the ride,” Bell said in a Friday phone interview, “and you didn’t get to compete and put your blood, sweat and tears into it as much as the next guy.
“For me, I’m a competitor. I wouldn’t want to just sit there and watch the team I’m with win a championship. I want to play and compete.”
b) “I don’t want to shortchange the whole organization because I thought everyone there was great, but Jerry’s definitely a huge part of it,” Bell said. “He really gave me a chance to kind of explore my game a little bit the first time around.
“I’ve played for a lot of guys and there’s not many guys that will shoot you straight all the time–there’s not many hidden agendas and they’re not caught up in all the politics. Jerry’s one of those guys and I’ve got a lot of respect and appreciation for that.” (sltrib)
This is a man after my own heart. Incidentally, can I just say that I love the fact that Raja is old/veterany and confident enough to call Jerry “Jerry”? I don’t think that even now, Stockton and Malone call him “Jerry.” (It’s true, what you’re thinking. I’m not just drinking the koolaid. I am showering and drowning in the koolaid.)
The feeling is mutual, by the way. Via @lockedonsports:
3. Many Jazz fans (yes, I’m one of the guilty ones) might have despaired at the thought of one non-defensively-inclined big replacing another when the Al Jefferson trade was announced. However, I was deeply impressed with Al’s candor, humility, and expression of desire to work and improve during his press conference. He’s not all talk. As SLC Dunk member jazzed said here, Big Al’s humility and attitude is the real deal:
Jefferson ignored [his agent’s] advice and signed a five-year, $65 million deal just before the deadline on Wednesday night. In the era of “Show me the money!” and “bling bling,” Jefferson’s reason was stunningly humble.
“I didn’t even think I was worth max [money] this year anyway,” Jefferson said at a news conference Thursday. “I would’ve been a fool to go up there and ask for max, having not really proved myself for that. So the number I got was the number that was my goal from Day 1. And I think it was a win, win situation.” (ESPN)
Can you say, antithesis of “I’m going to get a raise, regardless”? I have a good feeling that AJ will be the antithesis of Boozer in more ways than one in coming years.
4. So far this summer, Kevin O’Connor has turned a Boozer-Korver-Matthews(-Koufos) tandem into Jefferson-Hayward-Bell and saved almost $70 million ($131 million vs $63 million) in the process. Would you have done this deal straight up? I’m sure it’s clear as day by now, but Raja Bell was my swaying factor in what is now a big, resounding “YES!!!”
5. Guess there won’t be any Jazz representation at the FIBA World Championship next month. AK and Deron have declined invitations for their respective national teams due to health concerns/personal issues. Memo is recovering from surgery. The Koof decided not to train with the Hellas of Justice (aka the Greek national team) so that he could play on the Jazz’s summer league team (and ends up getting traded right after). I know the Koof is no longer on the Jazz, but I bring him up to contrast him to Fes, who chose to train with the Ukrainian team instead of playing on the Jazz’s summer league team…even though Ukraine did not qualify for the Worlds.