SAN ANTONIO — As if facing defending NBA-champion San Antonio on Friday wasn't enough, the Jazz now turn to another of the West Conference powers.

The Dallas Mavericks may be only 12-8 with losses in three of their last four games, but coach Jerry Sloan has the utmost respect for tonight's opponent.

That's largely because of forward Dirk Nowitzki, who is averaging 21.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in 36 minutes per game this season.

At 7 feet, he's a terrifically tough matchup for Utah — often too quick for center Mehmet Okur, too tall for power forward Carlos Boozer and too strong for small forward Andrei Kirilenko.

"He's a very talented guy, and can shoot the ball all over the floor," Sloan said. "And he's so big. You fail to realize how big he really is.

"And you can't put him on the free-throw line," the Jazz coach added, "because he makes every one of his free throws."

The reigning NBA MVP is shooting 96.6 percent (57-of-59) from the line over his last seven games.

SLOAN MIKED: Reiterating comments first made Thursday, Sloan let it be known again Friday that he's less than thrilled at being forced by the NBA to wear a microphone for the Jazz's ESPN-televised game here.

"I guess I'm intimidated by it," Sloan said, adding he's also afraid of snakes.

Sloan suggested wiring coaches may ultimately turn them into "kind of a phony guy."

"You can't say what you want," he said.

The league is mandating this season that all coaches be miked for games televised by its network partners.

A remote-controlled camera also panned the Jazz locker room before Friday's game, at halftime and afterward — intrusive technology Sloan said he "never imagined" he'd see in his lifetime.

DOWN ON THE FARM: The Jazz are permitted to send first- and second-year players to their NBA Development League affiliate, the Utah Flash, up to three times per season.

It's only early December, and already 2007 second-round draft choice Kyrylo Fesenko demoted Thursday along with 2007 first-rounder Morris Almond, who also has been sparingly used so far in his NBA career — has gone down twice.

That's because the Jazz would much rather have Fesenko log minutes in the minors than mostly watch NBA games.

But it means the Jazz will have to be especially judicious about when they recall Fesenko again — no matter what predicament injuries to more-established big men may present.

Sloan, for one, wouldn't have it any other way.

"I think there needs to be a little bit of consistency in it, and not have them where they're going all over the place," the Jazz coach said when asked if he wished he could bring younger players back and forth at will. "Why yank them around?"

The Jazz conveniently assigned the two rookies to Orem in advance of a six-game Flash homestand.

Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor, however, said there's no set timetable for how long either will remain in the D-League during this stint down.

With Almond and Fesenko gone, the Jazz dressed all 12 of their remaining players Friday.

Besides Fesenko and Almond, the only other Jazz player ever assigned to the D-League is swingman C.J. Miles — who played for both of two former affiliates, Albuquerque and Idaho.

Because he's in his third NBA season, Miles is no longer eligible to be demoted.

RUMOR MILL: According to the Bergen (N.J.) Record, which cited unidentified sources, former Jazz point guard Mark Jackson is among several possible candidates for the GM job left vacant in New Jersey when Ed Stefanski recently replaced fired Philadelphia 76ers president/GM Billy King.

Others possibilities to work under Rod Thorn in Jersey reportedly include ex-Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe, former Sonics GM Rick Sund, ex-Hawks GM Pete Babcock and internal candidates Gregg Polinsky and Bobby Marks.

ALUMNI UPDATE: Ex-Jazz point guard Carlos Arroyo has returned to the Orlando Magic after briefly spending time with his young daughter Gabriela, who reportedly was battling pneumonia.