Some issues have been settled.
Others, however, remain rather uncertain as the Jazz prepare for Tuesday night's 2007-08 NBA regular-season opener at Golden State especially when it comes to the rotation coach Jerry Sloan is likely to use as Utah begins its quest to at least repeat as Northwest Division champs and Western Conference finalists.
Four starters, of course, return from the Jazz's 51-win club of a season ago: point guard Deron Williams, 2004 All-Star small forward Andrei Kirilenko, 2007 All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer and 2007 All-Star center Mehmet Okur.
Sophomore Ronnie Brewer has claimed the starting shooting guard spot left vacant by Derek Fisher, who left in the offseason to re-join the Los Angeles Lakers.
Journeyman Jason Hart has beaten out fellow offseason free-agent signee Ronnie Price for the right to replace Fisher as the primary backup to Williams at the point, just as the Jazz figured would happen heading into training camp at the start of the month.
Other backup jobs seem settled as well: Veteran Matt Harpring, as long as his surgically repaired right knee allows, behind Kirilenko at small forward; Paul Millsap behind Boozer for a second straight season at power forward; Jarron Collins, who as expected was able to hold off still-developing rookie Kyrylo Fesenko, still behind Okur at center.
The biggest question, however, may be how Sloan will address opportunity behind the starters and late-game closers at both shooting guard and small forward particularly if Harpring's minutes are limited by injury, and especially considering that the Jazz are looking for ways to get both Kirilenko more playing time than the 29.3 minutes per game he averaged last season and Millsap more minutes than the 18.0 he averaged as a rookie.
"I'll probably play Andrei (Kirilenko) more, with the way he's played," Sloan said. "He's played pretty well. That's encouraging about all of it: He's worked hard, and played well."
At the same time, Sloan added, "I might get more minutes for Paul (Millsap) if I can play him some at small forward. So that's gonna be a situation we have to look at and see where we are."
In the Jazz's preseason-ending game against the Lakers last Tuesday, with Harpring sidelined as he was throughout the month, Sloan brought veteran swingman Gordan Giricek and 20-year-old shooting guard C.J. Miles off the bench behind Kirilenko and Brewer, respectively.
In the regular season, however, Sloan suggested several different things may happen.
One is that Kirilenko could stay in longer, perhaps depending on matchups by sliding to shooting guard while Giricek plays small forward. Another is to play Harpring, who now is expected to be available for at least limited minutes against the Warriors on Tuesday, alongside Kirilenko and/or Giricek.
Miles, then, could get squeezed for minutes even though he seems to have the edge for now on first-round rookie shooting guard Morris Almond, and especially when Harpring is ready to reclaim most or all of his 25.5 minutes from a season ago.
"He's kind of struggled with his game a little bit," Sloan said of Miles, who entered the NBA straight out of high school in 2005.
Meanwhile, both Price and Hart may see limited minutes at shooting guard against small-lineup matchups either playing alongside each other, or with one of them paired with Williams.
"There will be times, probably," Sloan said, "that we'll have to use one of those guys at the 2 guard position or with Deron."
Then there is the matter of Millsap, who has warranted more minutes via both a strong preseason and averages of 6.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game from last season.
The question is minutes from where.
"Am I gonna set Boozer down another five or six minutes?" Sloan said.
With Boozer averaging a team-high 20.9 points and team-leading 11.7 rebounders in 34.6 minutes per game last season, the Jazz coach did not have to mouth the words to make it clear his answer to that is absolutely not.
That likely means much more of Millsap at the 3 spot, perhaps at the expense of the aging (31-year-old) Harpring.
One other caveat to consider: Even though Brewer was the clear-cut winner of the fight to start at the 2, Sloan who started Miles for 12 straight games in the position at the start of last season, only to bury him on the bench after that suggests nothing is etched in stone.
"We just have to ride that out and see," he said when asked about Brewer's job security as a starter. "I don't think there's anything guaranteed."Or, as newcomer-to-Utah Hart picked up on so quickly: "By the end of the season, it's gonna be a totally different rotation."
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