Utah Jazz management has some tough decisions to make on Free agents
Upside: Watson knows what he is and likes what he is — a pretty reliable backup point guard who provides spunk. The 10th year vet is a quiet leader and somebody O'Connor called "a total professional." The Jazz GM also lauded Watson's competitiveness.
Watson liked that his shooting percentages rose at the end of the season, when he said, "I'm now more comfortable with the team." He knows the system, and likes the possibilities in Utah.
"This is my team. This is my family and I want to back. It's more than just the team. It's more like the organization. It's more the city. It's more the fans. It's perfect for me," Watson said. "I think it's a great place to be. For what I want in a family, it's a great place to raise a family, so this is where I want to be."
Downside: Watson raised his 3-point percentage to 33.6 percent, but he shot just 41 percent overall. His shooting is a concern. He also had his lowest assist average (3.5 per game) since 2002-03, but his minutes were also down from previous stints with multiple teams around the league.
Prognosis: The Jazz are very young, and this soon-to-be 31-year-old provides leadership on and off the court. He's happy as the No. 2 playmaker, but if the Jazz pick up a young point guard, would he be willing to play third fiddle? His steady presence could very well earn him another season or so in Utah.
Position: Point guard
Upside: His athleticism is off the charts. So are the Utah Valley product's energy and intensity levels. He also seems to love his role as the spark plug, and he can annoy the heck out of opponents on defense with his peskiness and quickness. O'Connor called him and Earl Watson "two of our better competitors on our team" and credited both for being "a total professional," but the GM didn't provide a hint as to whether the Jazz wanted him back or not.
Price, who married a Utahn and lives here permanently, sure hopes they bring him back.
"There's not too many people that had opportunities in a place where they call home early on in their career," Price said. "Me in the situation I'm in. I've had four years in my home, being able to sleep in my own bed, live in my house, be around my family and be a part of an organization like the Jazz and Coach Sloan. I played for arguably the greatest NBA coach of all-time. ... Everything that I've been fortunate enough to be a part of since I've been in Utah has been nothing but positive."
Downside: Price was a terrific college scorer, but he has struggled to find his shot in the pros (39.0 percent for six seasons). He only shot 29 percent from 3-point land last season while dishing out just 0.9 assists. A variety of injuries plagued him this year as well.
Prognosis: Price spoke very highly of Corbin and said he hopes to return to Utah — a place where the Texas native has played basketball for seven years (four with the Jazz, three at UVU). It might come down to a Watson-or-Price scenario for Jazz management.
Upside: Early on, the NBA veteran filled a nice (rather grumpy) role for the Jazz as a feisty and physical presence on the second unit. His mid-range shot provided Utah with an occasional offensive weapon, and he was not intimidated or pushed around by anybody on the defensive end. The intelligent Dutchman was also liked by teammates who jokingly called him "Sensei."
Elson, who won an NBA title with the Spurs in 2007, hopes they get the opportunity next year, too.
"I'm going to go full blast (this summer) and try to come back stronger and be more focused and be more of a vocal leader," Elson said. With a laugh, he added, "I think I'll take some classes to become a better spokesperson."
Downside: The 35-year-old struggled from about midseason on, and his productivity came to a halt once knee and ankle issues flared up and slowed him down.
"It's been a tough season, ups and downs," Elson said the day after Utah's season ended last month. "In the beginning, I think I played very aggressively, and then it dwindled down to little nagging injuries."
Prognosis: Elson's efforts were invaluable to begin the year, but he wore down as the season did. He returned to the Netherlands — where he'll play for his national team this summer — but he might be a long shot to return to Utah.
OTHER POSSIBLE PICK-UPS
2011 NBA DRAFT PROJECTIONS
Top 15 players
(NOTE: Players placed in combined projected order from three popular NBA draft websites: ESPN.com, NBADraft.net and DraftExpress.com)
Player . . . School . . . Position . . . Ht./Wt
1. Kyrie Irving, Duke, PG, 6-2/180
2. Derrick Williams, Arizona, SF, 6-8/241
3. Enes Kanter, Turkey, C, 6-10/255
4. Brandon Knight, Kentucky, PG, 6-3/185
5. Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania, PF, 6-10/230
*6. Jan Vesely, Czech Republic, PF, 6-11/240
7. Kemba Walker, Connecticut, PG, 6-1/172
8. Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania, PF, 7-0/220
9. Alec Burks, Colorado, SG, 6-6/195
10. Terrence Jones, Kentucky, SF, 6-8/244
11. Marcus Morris, Kansas, PF, 6-9/235
*12. Tristan Thompson, Texas, PF, 6-8/225
13. Bismack Biyombo, Spain, PF, 6-9/243
14. Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State, SF, 6-7/225
15. Jimmer Fredette, BYU, PG, 6-2/195
(The Utah Jazz are currently slotted in the Nos. 6 and 12 positions for the June 23 draft, although that could change depending on the results of the lottery on May 17.)
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