The nights of Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin have to be a little troubled right now.
The NBA‘s trade deadline is looming on Thursday and the rumors are hot and heavy that power forward Paul Millsap is leaving town. After Tuesday night’s 115-101 Jazz victory over the Golden State Warriors, the Jazz find themselves in a virtual tie with the Bay Area’s ballers for 6th place in the Western Conference.
Millsap was solid, if unspectacular in the the victory, going 5-10 for 14 points. But the volume of Millsap‘s points in this particular game isn’t the reason that Corbin is up nights, or the reason that the Jazz would be foolish to trade him.
The reason Jazz management shouldn’t be hasty to pull the trigger on a trade is tied to the result of Tuesday night’s game.
With the team in the 6th position in the West, the chances that they can continue to move up are fairly good. The teams in the lower bracket of the West (Warriors, Houston Rockets) are fairly sized challenged and aren’t known for defending the post. The teams directly above them (Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets) are talented, but somewhat unproven in the stretch. This especially true given the team-altering trade that the Grizzlies recently underwent that sent Rudy Gay out of town.
Suddenly, a move by the Jazz to 5th or even 4th (where they would have home court advantage for at least a round) isn’t out of the question. And while the long term future of the team would be served by trading for or drafting a big time point guard, the promise of the playoffs for a fan base used to the high-level success of the Jerry Sloan years has to be a motivating factor for management.
The trade rumored to be out there is Millsap for the Indiana Pacers‘ David West and likely their first round draft pick and another player TBA. West isn’t chopped liver either, but his contract is up after this season and perhaps more glamorous climes than Salt Lake City await him in free agency. And while many are high on the emerging bigs of the Jazz, Millsap is a known quantity for the team: a career 48% shooter, solid rebounder, good passer and strong teammate.
He and Al Jefferson (also rumored to be on the block) make Utah a difficult team to defeat, especially at home. Dreams of a big time point guard coming into the house that John Stockton built certainly are tantalizing. But butts in the seats this year for a playoff run is more tangible to the bottom line than who might be available in the NBA draft this summer.
Utah isn’t that far away from making this season one to remember. Let’s hope that the Jazz powers-that-be let Corbin get some sleep this week.