SALT LAKE CITY — The NBA trade deadline is coming up Thursday and a few Utah Jazz players have been at the forefront of the rumor mill.
Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson have been the subjects of the most speculation, while rumors of the Jazz acquiring a younger point guard have also been making the rounds.
When asked about trade rumors after returning from the All-Star break, Jazz players and coach Tyrone Corbin all shrugged off any talk about the subject.
“I’ve been in this league a long time. This is my ninth year and Paul’s seventh. We’re used to this,’’ said Jefferson.
“You don’t react. You just let it go,’’ added Millsap. “You can’t do anything about it because you don’t really know for sure. If it don’t come from (the Jazz’s) mouths it’s probably not true.’’
Millsap’s name has come up in trade rumors for years, and the Jazz forward says he’s used to it by now, saying he takes it as a compliment that he’s a wanted player. One of the latest rumors has him going to the L.A. Clippers for point guard Eric Bledsoe and others.
That trade would potentially affect Mo Williams, the team’s current starting point guard, who has been sitting out with an injured thumb for more than a month.
“I’m a free agent after this year, so obviously they’ve got some options,’’ Williams said. “Hopefully they understand my value and hopefully this is a place they want me to be for years to come. I know I do. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.’’
Corbin was blunt in talking about trade speculation.
“It’s rumors and we don’t deal with rumors,’’ he said. “We are who we are and everybody here is part of our family. We’ll continue progressing in the way that we have and we expect everybody to respond accordingly.’’
Jefferson has been traded twice in his career, but he knows if the Jazz are involved, it’s unlikely anyone will know about it in advance.
“The one thing about the Utah Jazz is they’re a very professional team,’’ he said. “When a trade comes nobody’s going to know until it actually happens. They’ve been consistent with that. They’re just rumors.’’
Still the possibility of a trade is on a lot of players’ minds.
“After Thursday we’ll take a deep breath,’’ said Williams.
BOGUT BOMBS: Playing in his old “hometown” for the first time in three years, former Utah All-American Andrew Bogut had a dreadful night in the Warriors' loss.
Bogut started, but went scoreless in 14 minutes, missing all four of his shots, while grabbing five rebounds. He also struggled guarding Jefferson, who had 24 points on the night.
“It’s hard to pinpoint the problem,’’ he said. “I think collectively it’s not going as well as it was.’’
The 7-foot center from Australia is coming off an ankle injury that kept him out of 42 of the Warriors' 52 games this year. He has played in six games since returning to the Golden State lineup late last month, but he showed little Tuesday.
This was Bogut’s first appearance in Utah since the 2009-10 season as he missed last year with the Bucks for “personal reasons” and the year before with a sore back. His best game as a pro in Utah was in November 2008 when he had 16 points and 20 rebounds in a 105-94 loss to the Jazz.
WHO'S BETTER? A couple of weeks before the 2005 Draft, former Utah coach Rick Majerus told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Marvin Williams was the best player in the draft ahead of Bogut. “I think five years out it will be Marvin Williams who will be the best player’’ Majerus told the newspaper.
Bogut still ended up being the No. 1 draft choice of Milwaukee’s while Williams went No. 2 to Atlanta.
It’s been more than seven years since that draft and the late Majerus hasn’t proved to be a prophet. While neither player has turned out to be an All-Star, Bogut has better career numbers in every area, including points (12.6 ppg to 11.2), rebounds (9.3 to 5.2), assists (2.3 to 1.3) and field goal shooting 52.3 to 44.8
However, Williams was much better Tuesday night with 11 points compared to Bogut’s goose-egg.
QUOTABLE: “Alec Burks is MVP in my book for the month of February — he really stepped up outside of his role and helped carry this team,” said Jefferson.
DRAFT HELP: Tuesday’s victory accomplished a couple of things. Not only did it lift the Jazz into a tie with the Warriors for sixth place in the Western Conference, it helped the Jazz in the NBA Draft, since the Jazz will get the Warriors' pick in the June draft. The more losses the Warriors have, the higher the draft pick that goes to the Jazz will be.
The Jazz's pick is conditional and they could have used it last year had the Warriors finished out of the top seven. However, the Warriors conveniently finished with the seven pick, which they used for Harrison Barnes, who has started every game this year.
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