SALT LAKE CITY — While talking about his team not being in the playoffs for the first time in five years, general manager Kevin O'Connor had a simple description.
"It's lousy," he said.
Some might wonder if that's also how he feels about watching all of his recently departed Jazz players continue to contribute even while his current players vacation.
It's been a running joke all season that the team in the Windy City should be called the Chicago Jazz. The Eastern Conference's top team does, after all, feature three players who recently called Utah home in Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer.
Then there's the Jazz's former heralded undrafted rookie, Wesley Matthews, who became a key player for the Portland Trail Blazers after not having his offer matched by Utah last summer.
During his exit interview with media members, O'Connor was asked if he has second-guessed himself or come to terms over not bringing those players back and then seeing them have success elsewhere.
"Give them credit for being on playoff teams," O'Connor said, "and good luck to them."
O'Connor said he'll be monitoring the playoffs, but don't expect him to become a cheerleader for the Bulls or Blazers.
One of their former teammates, however, will be cheering for Chicago.
"I'll watch some. ... I'll definitely root for them," Jazz swingman C.J. Miles said. "I'm happy for them and the success they had this year and the way they've been playing."
Miles said he talked with Brewer just before the regular season ended. The New York City offseason resident even hopes to catch a playoff game — and "catch up with them" — back East or in his hometown of Dallas in the next month and a half.
Here's a look at how the four former players are faring with their new teams this postseason:
CARLOS BOOZER: The power forward, who was with Utah for six seasons prior to this one, hasn't been a huge scorer in this series. But the Derrick Rose-led Bulls don't need him to be one on a nightly basis, so they've been fine despite Boozer only averaging 12 points in four games against Indiana.
Boozer has, however, been a beast on the boards, pulling down an average 13.3 in the past three games.
In 44 postseason games with Utah, by the way, Boozer averaged 20.2 points and 12.6 rebounds. In his four years, the Jazz made it to the Western Conference finals, to the semifinals (second round) twice and to the first round once.
KYLE KORVER: The shooting guard hasn't fired in 3-pointer at the league-record rate he did in Utah last season (53.6 percent) for the Bulls. But he has become an integral part of Chicago's rotation, and his sharpshooting is the reason why.
Korver is averaging 9.8 points — up from 8.3 ppg in the regular season — with a couple of 3-pointers in this first-round series for the Bulls. He averaged 7.9 points in 27 playoff games with Utah the past three postseasons.
He even got a mention from TNT analyst Kenny Smith, who sees Korver as a dangerous weapon for Chicago behind Rose, Boozer and Luol Deng.
"Now (Korver) is the fourth option and if you leave him, he'll hit you in the head," Smith recently said. "He still has to make the shot, but those guys are creating double-teams for him."
RONNIE BREWER: Defense, as usual, is Brewer's forte. But he did hit a pair of clutch free throws to clinch the Bulls' Game 3 victory.
Brewer's scoring has dipped quite a bit with Chicago compared to Utah — where he played for 3.5 seasons before the Jazz traded him to Memphis last year — but he's still finding ways to contribute in double-digit minutes a night.
In three postseasons with Utah, Brewer averaged 7.7 points and just under a steal an outing. He has only chipped in 2.5 ppg and 0.5 spg for Chicago.
WESLEY MATTHEWS: Those three ex-Jazzmen are faring well in a potential championship situation, but Matthews' loss remains the one many Utah fans lament the most. That's partly because of the Jazz's shooting guard struggles this past season combined with Matthews' continued progression, improved outside shooting and gritty defense.
Matthews' offensive production has dipped a bit in Portland's first-round series against Dallas compared to his sophomore season. He has averaged 12.8 points in 30 minutes against the Mavericks, while putting up 15.9 ppg in 33.6 mpg during the regular season. The return of Brandon Roy is the major reason why.
Interestingly, Matthews' scoring numbers are almost identical from this postseason (13.3 ppg) compared to his 10-game playoff run with the Jazz last year (13.2 ppg).
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