Brad Rock: Utah Jazz working to get Mo from L.A. deal
SALT LAKE CITY —
Let me get this out of the way right up front, before I get eMo-tional: The Jazz need some Mo-mentum at point guard.
Now, if he'll just cooperate.
They're sorry about making Mo Williams feel unwanted the first time around. Now, they're rolling out the welcome mat. On Thursday, the Jazz did their best to make a Mo-mentous (groan) draft day move, and it wasn't by picking Tennessee Tech shooting guard Kevin Murphy at No. 47. They also reportedly conspired to acquire Williams by giving up a trade exception. The deal would make him a Jazz player for the second time.
So eight years after making what Jazz G.M. Kevin O'Connor considers his biggest personnel gaffe, he is trying to rectify it. In a three-team deal with Dallas and the Clippers, the Jazz want back the guy they drafted at No. 47 in 2003, but failed to re-sign after his rookie season.
And you thought they were just waiting for this year's 47th pick? If acquired, Williams would represent a guard who is tougher, more emotional and a better shooter than the Devin Harris, the current Jazz point guard.
It's Williams' option whether to come to Utah.
If he refuses, I'll be oh-so-Mo-rtified (sorry).
Williams would significantly improve the Jazz at guard. Stuck behind Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups in L.A., he has an option to either stay there a year or agree to a move. The Jazz need shooting, and Williams would improve the team in that area. He hit a respectable 38 percent from 3-point range, two percentage points better than Harris, who didn't come on until late last season for the Jazz.
If you want to know why O'Connor has publicly kicked himself for not keeping Williams in 2004, consider this: The guard went on to rank 13th in the NBA in assists the next.
"Let me repeat myself," O'Connor said on Thursday. "My worst mistake."
And while Williams has never been called a dead eye, he can shoot outside and the Jazz need shooters. Boy, do they need shooters.
While the news broke early Thursday evening that the Jazz were trying to pick up Williams, the devil was in the details. The Jazz had the cash, in the form of trading a salary cap exception in order to get him without giving up a player.
The hitch was that Williams had the option of rejecting the offer. Hence, he didn't immediately agree to it. It was no secret the Jazz wanted him; rather, it was a matter of whether he wanted the Jazz. Why wouldn't he want the Jazz?
Not everyone wants to play in Utah. But since Williams did, and was popular here, it could have been a no-brainer on his part. Rather than sit behind Paul, and maybe Billups again next year, he could play large minutes in Utah.
Neither coach Ty Corbin nor O'Connor would comment on the Williams story.
"He's a great player, and we drafted him here, and until something else happens, that's all I have to say about him," Corbin said.
One possibility was whether Williams could get a better situation. If so, it would have to happen quickly, since this weekend is when his contract with L.A. kicks in.
Meanwhile, the Jazz also added 6-foot-7 shooting guard Kevin Murphy, a player they say can score off the dribble and shoot effectively over smaller players.
"Especially on the perimeter," Corbin said. "He can shoot."
Which brings up a question: When did shooting get so difficult? That's the one thing everyone can practice. Yet, you wouldn't know it from the Jazz. Somehow, they have turned the most basic skill into high adventure. Excepting Jeff Hornacek, they haven't had much of it on a consistent basis.
Of the top10 3-point shooting teams in the NBA, eight made the playoffs. Miami made its final run on the wings of outside shooting by Mike Miller and Shane Battier. Meanwhile, the Jazz were the worst team in the playoffs in 3-point shooting (20 percent) and 27th of 30 teams in the regular season (.323).
So the Jazz should congratulate themselves on getting better. First, if they get Williams. Second, if Murphy proves to be shooting guard who can truly shoot.
Only this and nothing 'Mo.
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