Utah Jazz: Kevin O'Connor addresses a variety of topics in interview before Dallas game
SALT LAKE CITY — While talking with reporters before Wednesday's season-opener, Kevin O'Connor joked that his next interview session won't happen again until the trading deadline in February.
According to O'Connor, that could be a busy time around the NBA.
Until then, new Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey has the "fortunate" responsibility of dealing with media on a regular basis now that O'Connor is focusing solely on being the team's executive vice president of basketball operations.
Some interesting tidbits O'Connor offered up in a now-rare interview:
— Do you think the league will be active with trade-deadline options?
"I think it will be. And I think the reason it will be is because people will be concerned going into next year with the extra luxury tax, the punitive tax, the repeaters luxury tax. I think some teams are going to be cognizant of that. Hopefully, we put ourselves in a pretty good position. We had planned on this from four years ago. Now I'm not smart enough to write all the numbers down, but (Jazz CFO) Bob Hyde did. He planned it and looked at it and said, 'Here's what we should look like.' We thought it'd be two years before the implementation before the tax would come in and we guessed right, and hopefully we can be the beneficiaries of making some moves."
— Will talent or expiring contracts be king in the NBA?
"I don't think you want to go with expiring contracts as king, because that means you're not dealing with players and you've gotta have players to win. But I think what you might see is a pretty good player at a price you might like that another team can't afford."
— Is this year's team better than last season's 36-30 first-round squad?
"No. We haven't proven it yet. You can do all the paperwork that you want. You can put everything on paper that you say that we should be better at this position, we should be better at that position. We've got to go out and prove it. I like the fact that we've added pieces that I think will make us better, but I don't want to say to you that we're absolutely better. What I want to say to you is that I believe that we've improved ourselves. Now we've got to prove it."
— On the Jazz being deep but not having a "superstar" player:
"The only thing that I equate everything to is wins. If I go back and look at Detroit when they went to five straight Eastern Conference Finals, one (NBA) Final and won one in those five years, I don't think you would have said that they had a first- or second-team team All-NBA player or superstar."
O'Connor called Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace "good players," but added, "I don't think you would classify any of those as superstars."
Added O'Connor: "That’s a model that certainly has worked a great deal."
— Is the team expected to progress on a linear path after making the playoffs last season?
"I think where you go with that is to see how you improved. This isn't a sprint. It's a marathon. Ask me that question in 60 games and I'll be able to give you a more definitive answer. Right now the answer I'll give you is our whole goal is to continue to improve, and would that be the next round? Sure. But that's not where we want to put a ceiling on. Certainly what we want to do is see how good this team can be."
— On the minute-distribution quandary coach Tyrone Corbin will face, especially with bigs Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter:
"I think Coach would rather have four big guys rather than one. It's going to be an interesting dynamic. We did it pretty well in the preseason, but it's like having too much starting pitching. You can't have that and those guys are all going to compete for minutes, and certainly Paul and Al are veterans, but you know it's a long season. Guys have gotta be ready."
— Seeing as it's the last time you're talking for a while, can you address the Raja Bell situation?
"No comment. You needed one of those."
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