Piecing it together: Utah Jazz work to solve a new puzzle

Published: Wednesday, May 12 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko talks with the media on Tuesday, the day after the Lakers eliminated the team from the NBA playoffs in Salt Lake City.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — In his ideal world, especially after a 53-win regular season and a fourth straight playoff appearance, Jerry Sloan would have them all back.

"Hopefully we keep our team together as much as possible and move forward," Sloan said Tuesday, as his Jazz players — swept from the postseason just 12 hours or so earlier — cleaned their lockers and met for exit interviews.

Point guard Deron Williams, however, wants more than that.

Much more.

Elaborating Tuesday on what he said Monday night in the immediate aftermath of a Game 4 second-round NBA playoff series loss to the Western Conference's top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers, Williams reiterated just how adamantly he believes the Jazz need to be made better.

Said Williams on Monday: "We're a playoff team — just not a championship team. I think we need a couple more pieces, and until we get those pieces we'll be a four or five seed. Challenging."

"I was just saying I think if we want to compete for a title we have to add pieces," Williams said Tuesday. "You know, you see teams making deals, doing deals, you know, year after year, and we stay the same and we get the same result."

Williams initially was hesitant to offer specifics but eventually expounded on ways to improve a Jazz club that now has been eliminated by the Lakers from three straight postseasons.

On the issue of former All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer, who after six seasons in Utah is an unrestricted free agent this summer, Williams succinctly said, "We definitely want him back."

But, he hastened to add, "If you let Booz walk and then get nothing, you get nobody — then, yeah, it's gonna be tough for us."

Even if Boozer does exit Utah, as many suspect he will, the Jazz potentially can recoup value via a sign-and-trade.

That likely would require making them a luxury-tax paying team for a second straight year, but O'Connor on Tuesday suggested the Jazz again would be willing to pay the levy exercised on teams that engage in excessive payroll spending if it made both fiscal and basketball sense.

"We do need to get better," he said, "but I also think our core's pretty darn good.

"We'll try to improve our team, whatever that means," the Jazz GM added. "We want to get better. Deron's not the only one that wants to have a better team."

Williams also made it known he feels the Jazz needed added size to deal with a Lakers club that used not only the length but also the skill of big men Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum to dominate Utah inside.

"Their team has two 7-footers, you know, that they play at the same time. So, I mean, that's tough," he said. "You know, there are not that many teams that have that luxury. Maybe Dallas.

"But we definitely need a shot-blocking big man — somebody that can, you know, hold down the paint for a whole game, not just for a quarter or two."

Boozer readily agreed and even got more specific.

"A shot-blocking center that can score on offense," he said.

Swingman C.J. Miles, though, wasn't nearly so picky.

"I think a little more size makes a difference," he said. "It's not a sweep, I think, with another big body. Just a big body that's in the way."

Added Sloan: "Obviously the thing that hurt us as much as anything in this series was the length."

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