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Randy Hollis: Sky feels like it's falling for Utah Jazz and their fans

Published: Saturday, July 10 2010 10:56 p.m. MDT

They're trying to build a Dream Team in Miami — and doing a pretty darned good job of it.

In Chicago, with the free agent additions of Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver, they're assembling what could be considered Utah Jazz East. Heck, the Bulls were reportedly talking to yet another former Jazzman, Ronnie Brewer, last week.

And in Salt Lake City? Well, if you're a Jazz fan, at the moment, you should be afraid — very afraid.

After all, with the departure of Boozer and Korver, the Jazz lost their leading scorer (Boozer/19.5 points per game), their best rebounder (Boozer/11.2 per game) and their best 3-point shooter (Korver/a league-record 53.6 percent) from last season.

Throw in that Achilles tendon injury suffered by starting center Mehmet Okur in last year's playoffs, and the Jazz lineup is starting to look awfully short-handed — and awfully short on size, too, along their front line.

Although Okur has vowed to be back in time for the start of the regular season, it remains to be seen whether he'll be anywhere close to 100 percent by then. If he's not quite ready to go, then your starting center is — gulp — either that oversized St. Bernard puppy masquerading as a basketball player, Kyrylo Fesenko, or Utah's other Double-K, Kosta Koufos (who, unlike female fans' favorite heartthrob Korver, has probably never been told he looks a lot like actor Ashton Kutcher).

One good thing about Okur's injury, though, is that it won't affect his quickness or leaping ability — because, let's face it, he didn't really have those attributes to begin with.

Right now, the Jazz lineup looks like Swiss cheese, and this team's got more holes to fill than a state road crew after a hard winter. Sure, Paul Millsap has been patiently waiting in the wings, ready to move into the starting spot at power forward if and when Boozer did indeed decide to move on, which had been rumored for more than a year.

Now, Millsap is going to get his chance to show what he can do on a full-time basis. He's an extremely hard-working but somewhat undersized power forward who's eager to prove he's a ready-for-prime-time player. But with Millsap moving into the starting lineup, who's going to fill the backup role at the 4-spot that he filled so well? If you said Andrei Kirilenko, you win a free copy of "The Power of Positive (Forward) Thinking."

And while C.J. Miles and rookie Gordon Hayward will gladly gobble up the minutes that Korver got off the bench, neither one of them is going to shoot over 50 percent from 3-point land like Korver did last season.

Shoot, Korver may not ever match that 3-point proficiency again himself.

What's more, with starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews signing an offer sheet with the Trail Blazers on Saturday, you'll have to forgive the Jazz front office if they feel like the sky is falling.

This year's free agent pool is drying up fast, getting more shallow by the day, and Utah desperately needs to find a big man that can contribute something. It's just that most of the remaining prospects aren't all that promising.

Jerry Sloan will coach 'em up and get more mileage out this shrinking lineup than anybody else could. And Deron Williams continues to emerge as one of the league's premier point guards.

But sometimes, you have to take a step or two backward before you can go forward.

And unless they can find a missing puzzle piece or two, it sure looks like the Jazz could be headed in the wrong direction this coming season.

Because while they're busy building that superstar team in Miami, and big-name players keep landing in big-time places like South Beach, the Windy City, the Big Apple, Big D and the City of Angels, things are looking not-so-super these days in the Beehive State.

e-mail: rhollis@desnews.com

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