SALT LAKE CITY — In determining whether or not to wheel or deal leading up to Thursday's NBA trade deadline, Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor had a rather simple mindset for choosing what player swaps to pursue.
"Improve the team," he said, "but not for 20 games."
The Jazz GM spent all morning on the phone and a lot of time in recent weeks trying to see what possible improvements could be made, but none fit that mantra well enough to pull the trigger.
Hence, the Jazz ended the day with the same 14 guys they had when it began.
"Down the stretch I didn't think there was anything on the table that we looked at that we thought could improve our team," O'Connor said. "We looked at a lot of things, but when we came to the final judgment we like our young assets and we weren't ready to part with that, so we just stayed pat."
O'Connor gave a "no comment" when asked if most trade offers include demands for the Jazz's young core of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks.
But with those four lottery picks on the squad who are 21 or younger, the Jazz are in long-term thinking mode. O'Connor pointed that out earlier in the week.
Sure, they want to win now — "Our goal is to make the playoffs," O'Connor insisted — but the Jazz weren't willing to mortgage their future success or cornerstone pieces for a quick fix.
O'Connor said the team did some groundwork for possible trades this offseason when the Jazz will likely be busy before June's draft and perhaps again around training camp time.
Five players — C.J. Miles, Josh Howard, Jamaal Tinsley, C. J. Miles and Jamaal Tinsley — will not be under contract so the Jazz will have to pick up at least four guys.
Utah also has a valuable $10.8 million trade exception picked up from the Mehmet Okur trade.
O'Connor also declined to comment about whether or not the Jazz came close to pulling off a deal.
When asked to evaluate the day's trade winners, O'Connor responded: "I think everybody improves their team. You get paranoid at this time of the year. You can give a good reason for every trade."
And, as was the case for the Jazz, every trade not made.
WATSON IN L.A.: Jazz guard Earl Watson was not with the Jazz during their 111-105 overtime win over Minnesota on Thursday night. The backup point guard left to get a unique laser treatment on his sprained left ankle with the Los Angeles-based doctor that helped him recover quickly after he suffered the same injury on Feb. 1.
"The main thing is (how) he feel and he believes in it and he thinks it gives him a better chance to heal faster," Corbin said. "It was a great success last time and we expect the same this one."
Though it's uncertain if he'll be available to play, Watson is expected to rejoin the Jazz when they travel to L.A. for Sunday night's game against the Lakers.
Watson, who lives in L.A. in the offseason, suffered a sprain in the second quarter of the Jazz's loss in Phoenix on Wednesday.
PRESSURE'S OFF: Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin is "very comfortable" with his squad, so he wasn't disappointed no player movement was made.
"We'll continue to grow and get better with each other," Corbin said. "Now the pressure or the stresses of trade deadline has passed and we are who we are and we're going to be that way until at least the end of this year. Let's move forward."
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