Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY – Three overtimes, churning suspense, madness in the house.
If you didn't know better, you'd think it was a playoff game.
In that case, why stop now?
As the Jazz clung to the hope of a playoff berth with a 123-121 triple-overtime win over Dallas, Monday at ESA, the question loomed as to whether they should tank the rest of the season so they can get lottery picks in the NBA Draft. The obvious answer: Sure. And while they're at it, why not tank all 82 games next season? Every season?
They could turn it into big business: Losers 'R' Us. That way they could keep on getting high picks into infinity. Eventually, they'd become the Los Angeles Clippers, minus Billy Crystal.
Just think, it only took the Clippers 27 years worth of lottery picks to get where they are.
In the meantime, what are Jazz fans supposed to do as they wait, watch reruns of 1998?
Looks like the Jazz didn't get the "quittin' time" memo yet.
It's true that sometimes teams can lose for profit. But generally, the idea is to act like grown-ups and do your best. That's what everyone not named Bobcats is supposed to do at their job. Jazz coach Ty Corbin is hearing none of the talk about losing. Asked about trading wins for draft picks, Corbin said, "No, no, not for me. We're going out to continue our growth and learn and try to win ballgames."
The reason this is even a story is the late fade by the Jazz, who entering Monday's game had lost seven of their last 11 games. That was due to a combination of relatively tough opponents and a swell of injuries. Hence, the Jazz have been limping along, seemingly determined on most nights to fight to the end. Now there are just four games left. Chances of making the playoffs are slipping. Many say they should lose the rest of their games, thus assuring they won't need to give up this year's draft pick.
If the Jazz miss the playoffs, they get a lottery pick from the Al Jefferson trade. Otherwise, they don't.
Meanwhile, they also have a chance for a lottery pick from Golden State.
Hence, they could have one lottery pick, two, or none, depending on how they do in the next few days.
Which raises another question: Why get in the playoffs, only to lose in the first round? Answer: Because losing to win isn't a great philosophy. Just ask any misguided rock star. Beyond that, the Jazz have just six players who have been to the playoffs. These kids need playing time.
Experience should out-weight other considerations.
"Absolutely," Corbin said. "That's the experience we gain ... we learn a lot about how to play through the changes, and in the playoffs things get even more intense."
Translation: They're not quitting until the schedule says they quit.
On Monday night, the Jazz showed no inclination to back off. In reality, why would any Jazz player want to tank the season so a draftee can come in and maybe take his spot?
This isn't "Let's Make a Deal."
While experts say this year's draft is deeper than most, a lottery pick would probably mean another good but not sensational player — who also needs playoff experience. Franchise players? They Jazz will have to trade or sign a free agent to get that.
The Jazz can always use gifted young players, but they already have several who need to learn what it's like to be in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the team would send the message to potential free agents that they're serious about their future. Right now.
Thus, against the defending champion Mavericks, the Jazz avoided expiring several times and prevailed. With Houston losing but Denver and Phoenix winning, the Jazz still remain shaky but alive.
And they aren't throwing games yet.
Good idea. Betting for the future by losing in the present is a bad habit to start.
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