SALT LAKE CITY — There have been louder boos at EngergySolutions Arena, but not since Dick Bavetta left the court after the 1998 NBA Finals.
That time, Jazz fans thought they were hosed by a referee.
This time, it was from within.
The Jazz used the ninth pick in Thursday's NBA Draft to claim Butler swingman Gordon Hayward. John Stockton was booed when he was drafted, but that was a smattering. This was a chorus. When general manager Kevin O'Connor took the podium for the announcement, growls and howls cascaded down.
"The only thing I hope is in two years you're not booing," he said.
The selection of Hayward came at a time when the Jazz are in a state of considerable flux. With Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver poised to leave via free agency, the team is in need of additional help. In picking Hayward, they didn't address pressing issues such as interior defense and rebounding, or find a backup for projected starter Paul Millsap.
They didn't address speed or bulk, either. At 6-foot-8, Hayward weighs just 207.
As for immediate help, that's debatable, too. O'Connor and coach Jerry Sloan mostly spoke of what Hayward will be in a few years.
In fairness, anyone the Jazz took at No. 9 would need seasoning. O'Connor spoke of liking players who can come off the bench. But what the Jazz need is a player who can play early and often.
"We tried very hard to trade up and there were no takers," said O'Connor.
While anyone who saw the NCAA playoffs could see Hayward knows hoops, and can do numerous things well, the selection was a surprise nonetheless. Most experts expected Utah would choose North Carolina forward Ed Davis, or perhaps Kansas shooting guard Xavier Henry, Kansas center Cole Aldrich or Nevada forward Luke Babbitt.
The most popular possibility, Davis, would have raised a few concerns of his own. He was leading the ACC in field goal percentage and blocked shots, and was second in rebounding when he broke his wrist and missed the last month of the season.
For his part, Hayward improved in scoring and rebounding, but increased his turnovers and lowered his field goal percentage in his second college season. After making 45 percent of his 3-point shots in 2008-09, he made just 29 percent last year.
Indications were the Jazz hoped Georgetown center Greg Monroe would slip to the ninth pick. But when the Pistons took him at No. 7, that left the Jazz to choose among several players, most of them good but none likely to be great.
"We're confident with the pick we made. We appreciate the fans saying what they wish. We wish we had a third or fourth pick," said O'Connor. "But we think we got a player who's going to be really terrific."
They didn't find a replacement for Boozer, but they did find a perimeter shooter who might fill in for Korver.
They shored up one spot but left the tough stuff up to free agency or trades.
The night began tamely, with several thousand fans on hand to watch the pick. When the Pistons took Monroe, a faint but audible groan arose. There went their dream choice, not counting out-of-reachers like top pick John Wall.
"John Wall," joked O'Connor to a writer an hour before the draft, pretending to offer a tip.
As per tradition, the sound system was muted just prior to the Jazz's pick. Season-ticket holder Forrest Fackrell, who won a drawing, took the podium to make the honorary announcement. "With the ninth pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz select Gordon Hayward of Butler University," he said.
The call was as popular as a traffic jam.
"Pretty tough duty," said Fackrell, when asked how it felt to be G.M. for a day. "It was easy to say the name, but what happened after was a little hard — but I didn't take it personally."
Fackrell had practiced pronouncing the names of several possible draftees, prior to the pick.
"But that was not one of the names I rehearsed," Fackrell said.
Hayward may yet become a fine player, but it's doubtful he'll be an All-Star soon — which is what the Jazz need to replace Boozer. Sometimes you'll get stars with the ninth pick (Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire, Tracy McGrady). Other times you draw a blank (Ed O'Bannon, Joe Przybilla, Samaki Walker).
Certainly the Jazz have done well with less in previous years. Last season they made it to the second round of the playoffs with a team that included 10 players who were second-round picks or undrafted.
"I hope you'll evaluate our staff two years from now and see where we stand," said O'Connor.
Where they stand right now is smack in the middle of a whole lot of doubt.
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