Designed to help them win the Midwest Division, the Jazz's decision to start Mike Brown instead of Marc Iavaroni might also affect their offseason plans.
If Brown works out and continues to play big minutes, these are likely results: Brown cashing in on a new contract; the Jazz giving up Jose Ortiz in the expansion draft; and Iavaroni losing market value as an unrestricted free agent.By protecting Brown in the expansion draft, the Jazz have to risk losing either Ortiz or Eric Leckner - probably Ortiz. They'll have to expose one big guy, along with guards Jim Les and Jim Farmer.
Iavaroni is exempt from the expansion draft and will be able to shop for a new contract with any team. Now that Jim Petersen and Mike Gminski have re-signed, Iavaroni is just as marketable as any unrestricted free agent this year. If he's on the bench for the last four weeks of the regular season and the playoffs, the Jazz would probably be less likely to re-sign him - unless they lose Ortiz and need another forward.
In any case, Iavaroni would still be attractive to an expansion team, just like Kurt Rambis was to Charlotte last summer. His Philadelphia roots could open doors with GM Pat Wlliams and Coach Matt Guokas in Orlando. While the lineup change may cost Iavaroni money this summer, he's still a worthwhile player for a young team.
The timing could be very good for Brown, meanwhile. He'll be a regular free agent when the playoffs end, and is in position to cash in with a strong spring showing.
STAYING LEGAL: Jerry Sloan denies standing in his hotel room and practicing shouting, "Illegal! Illegal!" The Jazz coach does his share of screaming and pointing during games, and he welcomes the NBA's plans to look at the way teams like Indiana and Golden State are abusing the rule with their trapping defenses.
"I think maybe coaches have caught up with the rules," NBA vice-president Rod Thorn told The Oregonian, "and we'll have to make some adjustments this summer. I think we need to take a hard look at the 1-2-2 and 1-3-1 traps in the halfcourt."
Asked if teams are finding loopholes in the rules, Sloan said, "They certainly are . . . All of a sudden, it seems to me it's not consistent with what we talked about before the year."
According to Sloan, a recent NBA memo said the so-called soft trap would be enforced as illegal defense. "I want them to stop double-teaming the man without the ball; that's my concern," Sloan said.
BIG REVENGE: The Adventures of Big Foot joins the Karl Malone-Greg Ballard fight in the 1987 playoffs on the list of Golden State motivators.
Big Foot is Portland's costumed mascot, actually 6-foot-10 former Blazer player Dale Schlueter. Golden State Coach Don Nelson was upset about a recent skit, in which Big Foot stomped on a model of the Golden Gate Bridge. "We were 30 points down . . . I said at the time that we'd have our day," Nelson noted later.
Sure enough, the Warriors blasted Portland 151-127 Tuesday. Afterward, Nelson said, "I've been waiting for them. I wanted to get 150 points on them and we got them."
Two days later, apparently with no source of motivation, the Warriors gave up 154 points to Phoenix.
NO DELIVERY: While Karl Malone usually goes out of his way for fans and even the media, he drew the line last weekend by declining to tape a 15-second promo for Spurs season tickets. Malone was approached with the request while sitting on the taping table in the locker room, but what really turned him off was the proposed script. He was supposed to say, "I find it hard to deliver" against the Spurs.
"Not only am I degrading myself, I'm degrading the Jazz," Malone reasoned.
He was also not swayed when told that Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan had read similar promos, saying, "I'm not doing anything for any other team. I play for the Jazz."
Malone was apparently not aware that NBA players are guaranteed 53 percent of all the league's gross revenues. By the way, he made 6 of 19 shots that night.