Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — With three and a half point guards on the team — the three being veteran free agents and the half being a two-guard who is unlikely to make a career at the position, the Utah Jazz are bound to make changes at the point guard position in the offseason.
Mo Williams was the starter most of the season — when he was healthy — while Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson took turns backing him up and second-year guard Alec Burks also played some minutes at the point.
It’s difficult to see any scenario where the Jazz would keep three point guards who are all over age 30 and have more than 30 years combined experience, for next year. Burks, who filled in admirably at the point during the second half of the season, is likely to stick around but not be counted on to play point.
Of course Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey wasn’t about to say anything specific when asked about what the Jazz may do with their three veteran point guards in the offseason when asked Thursday.
“On April 18, it’s hard to say,” he said. “We’ll see, as we have three draft picks. Frankly it’s too soon and too emotional to say this guy will be back, and all those guys have options so it’s do we have time, do we have opportunity, do we have enough money in relation to all of our free agents.”
Each of the three point guards discussed the possibility that they may not return to the Jazz next year.
“You get attached to teammates and you like where you’re at, but the reality is things will change,” said Williams. “It’s on the front office. You’ve got to understand we just sit by the phone and the agent and Kevin (O’Connor) and Dennis do all the talking and we just say, ‘Oh, OK, sure, oh really.’ That’s why we pay our agents and put our trust in them.”
Williams did say he would love to return to the team that drafted him with the 47th pick back in the 2003 NBA Draft and then re-acquired him this past offseason in a four-team trade with the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Absolutely, they know that,” he said. “First off, I was drafted here. This was the organization that gave me a shot when I first came in the league when I was a young pup. I’m at a point in my career where stability is the key and this is an organization that is top notch and cares about winning.”
Tinsley, who joined the Jazz in 2011 after spending a season in the D-League, is grateful to the Jazz for giving him a chance and expressed a desire to stick around another year.
“I would love to come back here, but that ain’t up to me,” he said. “I don’t control that, I let my agent control that.”
Then Tinsley sounded almost like he knows he may not be back next year, saying, “I will always have (a place in) my heart for the Jazz. They brought me back from the D-League. They trusted in me and have nothing bad to say about them. It’s been a great experience.”
Watson, who injured his right knee late in the 2012 season and rehabbed throughout the offseason, was uncertain about his plans for next year.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a long way from now. The first thing is to get healthy. My main thing now is getting healthy, because if I can’t contribute 100 percent healthy, I’d rather contribute doing something else.”
The 30-year-old Williams is the most likely of the three point guards to be back next year, but he won’t be bitter if the Jazz go in another direction either through free agency or the draft.
“It would be disappointing, but I’m going into my 11th year and I understand the business side of it and I understand the youth movement,” he said. “I understand all that. There wouldn’t be any bad feelings or anything like that. There weren’t any bad feelings after my rookie year when things didn’t work out. I moved on. I’ve always respected this organization from my rookie year.”
If the Jazz were to look to the draft for a point guard, NCAA Player of the Year Trey Burke of Michigan would be the top choice, but he is likely to be gone by the time the Jazz pick at No. 14. The next best prospects are expected to be Michael Carter-Williams of Syracuse, Lorenzo Brown of North Carolina State and C.J. McCollum of Lehigh.
Most of the top free agent point guards are restricted free agents such as Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings, Atlanta's Jeff Teague, Dallas' Darren Collison and Detroit's Rodney Stuckey.
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