With swingman Kyle Korver's arrival, more than one Jazz wing player must be wondering how his playing time will be impacted.
If Monday's win over Portland is any indication, Andrei Kirilenko should be OK. Matt Harpring, too. But Ronnie Brewer may be concerned, and C.J. Miles, too.
And that's not to mention rookie shooting guard Morris Almond, whose assignment to the NBA Development League's Utah Flash could wind up being even longer than originally planned.
Korver acquired last Saturday in a trade with Philadelphia, which received sporadically used shooting guard Gordan Giricek and a lottery-protected future first-round draft choice logged 18 minutes off the bench in his debut.
Korver also played the entire fourth quarter, finishing at shooting guard next to starting small forward Kirilenko while starting shooting guard Brewer watched from the bench.
Kirilenko wound up playing 31 minutes, just three off his season average. And backup small forward Harpring went 17 minutes, one more than usual.
Brewer and Miles, meanwhile, took the biggest hits.
Brewer played just 18 minutes, 12 off his season average. And backup shooting guard Miles, who had been averaging 24 minutes in the five games since Giricek first got banished from the team following a words war with coach Jerry Sloan, played just 12.
The implication: The Jazz should now have some bona fide battles for minutes among its swingmen, and Sloan, for one, loves it.
"There should be competition," he said.
"I think it makes your team better if guys compete for playing time if they handle it the right way," added Sloan, whose Jazz play host tonight to Giricek and Korver's old 76ers club. "Sometimes you say, 'I want all the playing time' and then when you get out there and nothing happens. (But) it's hard to get that second chance if somebody else is doing the job."
Or, as Sloan put it more succinctly: "It's kind of like who was it? Wally Pipp."
HMMM: In his Sixers debut Monday, Giricek scored six points and was 2-of-2 from the free-throw line in 14 minutes. In his 22 Jazz games, when he was averaging 13 minutes per game, Giricek who is capable of slashing to the basket but hadn't been doing it a whole lot attempted exactly one free throw.
HE SAID IT: Korver, on being constantly compared to look-alike actor Ashton Kutcher: "I'm looking forward to someone getting some new material. I've been punked like a million times."
HE WROTE IT: ESPN.com's Eric Karabell, assessing Korver's fantasy-league impact after moving to Utah: "3-point specialists tend to lack in other areas. Korver's no different. He doesn't pretend to want to rebound or pass the ball. He's a shooter, and a pretty good one. Don't look at his current field-goal percentage or his terrific free-throw percentage. His field-goal accuracy should go up, but he goes to the line so infrequently it has little impact on fantasy. In terms of scoring, I expect a few more points, possibly enough for him to become Utah's No. 3 scorer, but then again, only two players on the team (Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams) are averaging more than 13 points per night."MISC.: Williams said he hurt a finger during last Saturday's loss to Boston, but it didn't seem to bother him whatsoever during an 18-point, eight-assist performance against Portland. "It hurt pretty bad, but it's cool now," the Jazz point said after Monday's morning shootaround. ... In his four games since returning from a seven-game absence due to a strained left shoulder, Jazz center Mehmet Okur has hit just 12-for-42 from the field 28.6 percent, and 10-plus percent below his season average. ... According to the (La.) Advertiser, retired Jazz star Karl Malone has been named to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 2008 and will be inducted in June. ... Ex-Jazz guard Randy Livingston averaged 17.3 points and 14 assists over three games last week for the D-League's Idaho Stampede.
Contributing: Linda Hamilton E-mail: [email protected]
E-mail: [email protected]