Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Word has been getting around more this week that Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor has often considered letting Mo Williams leave after his rookie season as "the worst mistake of his career."
O'Connor made restitution Friday. But did he go too far on Monday when he completed a busy weekend by reportedly dealing Devin Harris to Atlanta in exchange for Marvin Williams?
Ultimately, it seems like coach Tyrone Corbin was due to navigate a position logjam. It just depends what river he hoped to float.
Jazz fans may have been confused when O'Connor traded the bulk of the $10.8 million trade exception they picked up when dealing Mehmet Okur to New Jersey last December to add a fourth point guard to the roster. But they couldn't have been too upset. After all, Mo Williams has been an All-Star, a career 38.7 percent shooter from distance and was one of the NBA's better rookie guards when he began his career with the Jazz in 2003.
As enthusiasts of the trade tweeted, blogged and posted their Facebook updates, Mo Williams would push Devin Harris, last season's starter, for main minutes, if not slide to the two-guard position and provide a deep threat that Utah desperately needed (the Jazz ranked just 24th in the league in three-point percentage last season).
With Harris gone, however, those options can be thrown out the window. Earl Watson may have taken equity in playing time with Harris in several games last season, but it's hard to imagine that will happen again, let alone that he or Jamaal Tinsely will supplant Mo Williams as the starter.
The deadly outside threat remains an issue since last season's top bomber, Raja Bell, has indicated that he doesn't want to be a Jazzman anymore. Having taken just 45 attempts from beyond the arc last season, Alec Burks remains unproven after his rookie season. C.J. Miles? Even if the unrestricted free agent is re-signed, the career up-and-down swingman barely scraped the 30 percent clip in the lockout-shortened season.
People might be surprised to learn that Marvin Williams, the 6-foot-9 athlete drafted one spot ahead of former Jazz superstar Deron Williams, has actually shot 32.9 percent from distance for his career, including a 38.9 percent clip last season. But given his size, Corbin must be planning on playing Marvin Williams at the small forward position, meaning that Gordon Hayward will be slid to shooting guard more frequently, since Jazz management is high on Burks.
Someone will be short-changed, then, and it may not come from the backcourt. When you consider that Corbin had already needed to figure out how to balance playing time at power forward between Paul Millsap and budding star Derrick Favors, Marvin Williams becomes another talented but awkward piece. Popular thought was to shift Millsap, who has been described as an inch or more shy of his 6-foot-8 frame, to small forward. It even worked near the end of the season, when Corbin's adjustment helped the Jazz make a successful playoff push. The Marvin Williams acquisition, however, makes that questionable as well.
Does this mean O'Connor would — or will? — deal the bruising Millsap, who has been described as the heart of the team? Would he already make a parting-of-ways with Enes Kanter in order to balance time with the three aforementioned forwards and Al Jefferson, who is already oft-undersized at center?
You have to wonder at this point if even Corbin knows what to do with the roster as it now stands. Perhaps that's what a good logjam does: it may create some shifty rapids. Hopefully not so confusing that the boat doesn't tip altogether. Just as long as O'Connor doesn't chuckle ashore.
Rhett Wilkinson attends Utah State University, is a Capitol Hill intern and the co-founder and editor of Aggie BluePrint. He has previously been an intern for the Deseret News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @wilklogan
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