Gordan Giricek was back in Utah at his coach's request despite being fully healthy when his teammates finally won their first road game in December.
The Jazz would likely have beaten the Orlando Magic, and ended their seven-game road losing streak in the process, even with the happy-go-lucky Croatian planted firmly on the end of the bench or even playing his normal 12.7 minutes per game. Then again, maybe it was addition by subtraction. Maybe the Jazz played better and won because Giricek wasn't around.
But nobody will ever know for sure what would have happened.
What is known is that veteran Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is not a Giricek booster never has been, never will be. Now that the Jazz coach is taking things a little more lightly on Andrei Kirilenko in order to help keep his talented, but sensitive forward happier, Giricek has taken the brunt of Sloan's wrath this season it seems.
Sloan has tried a couple of times already to get Giricek out of the rotation. He's had Ronnie Brewer step up to claim the starting shooting guard spot, and he's tried both Ronnie Price and C.J. Miles as Brewer's primary backup. But neither one had stepped up enough to completely take Giricek out of the picture.
But after the latest incident, it appears that Sloan and Giricek have, as divorce lawyers call it, "irreconcilable differences." Simply put, there is no way this already strained relationship can survive.
The Jazz need to get rid of Giricek either through a trade or contract buyout. It's time for Miles, Price and/or Morris Almond the rookie who scored 51 points in the D-League on Friday night to step up and take over Giricek's minutes.
It didn't have to come to this, but it has.
Sloan had finally had enough of Giricek late in the first half on Wednesday night in Charlotte. After pulling Giricek out of the game and telling him he should pass the ball inside, Sloan reportedly told his 6-6 guard to "go sit at the end of the bench and complain." Only, being Sloan, he used a more colorful word than "complain" one that starts with "b" that we can't write in this newspaper even if we're talking about a female dog.
Unfortunately for Giricek, he followed only half of his coach's advice. He complained, just like he was instructed to, but he did so right there in front of the coach instead of heading over to the end of the bench first.
So Sloan sent him to the showers early. Then he realized that he didn't want to even be in the same state as Giricek, let alone the same plane, bus, hotel and arena during the final two stops on the Jazz's four-game trip.
Sloan was like a father with a kid acting up in the backseat of a minivan on a driving vacation saying, "I'll turn this thing around and go home if you don't behave. I mean it this time." Only, unlike the vacationing father who is stuck with the little brat, Sloan followed through with a one-way plane ticket.
Giricek, meanwhile, missed out on Disney World in Orlando and the beaches of Miami while contemplating his NBA future in the snow and cold of Salt Lake City.
While it seems clear that Sloan overreacted, nobody should be feeling sorry for Giricek. He was home drawing 1/82nd of his $4 million salary or $48,780 despite being asked to not show up for work on Friday. Same for Saturday's contest at Miami.
Still, the situation could have and probably should have been handled better.
An old-school coach like Sloan doesn't like to get talked back to. That's understandable. He's earned the right to be respected by his players. They should do what he says. Sloan is the boss and had every right to send Giricek to the locker room on Wednesday night in Charlotte for talking back to him.
But sending him home from the trip was extreme. It didn't have to go that far. Sloan had already gotten the message across by sending him to the locker room. He could have banished him to the end of the bench and not played him in Orlando and Miami.But now the die has been cast. The Jazz won't get much, if anything, for Giricek in a trade. Still, for Sloan's mental health, if nothing else, it's a deal that needs to be done.