SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz are obviously struggling on the court.
Management wouldn't mind finding a smart way to slash some salary and avoid luxury-tax fees.
And the NBA's deadline for wheeling and dealing players is next month.
With that perfect trade-rumor storm looming over the team, it's no wonder why Jerry Sloan wasn't shocked to hear that a juicy report involving the Jazz emerged on Tuesday.
The 22nd-year coach hadn't heard about any impending deals from Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor as of Tuesday's practice, though. Sloan also hadn't heard the swap-talk specifics included in the Yahoo Sports report about how multiple league sources claim everybody on Utah's roster not named Deron Williams is potential trade bait.
New rumor news for Sloan, sure.
Hardly surprising, though.
"That's what happens when you lose a game or two," said Sloan, whose 18-16 team will try to end a three-game losing skid against Memphis tonight at EnergySolutions Arena. "Rumors come out of the woodwork."
Knowing that, Sloan said he recently reminded his players about the gossipy part of the basketball business.
The coach, however, might wait before telling every Jazz player not sporting a No. 8 jersey that they're all on the trading block.
That's because Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor claims that's "really not true." The team is not exactly trying to ditch 11 non-Williams players and their salaries.
"My comment," O'Connor said, "has been that we would look at doing anything to improve our team. That's kind of a broken record."
And the G.M. insists that the organization will only look to pull off a deal "if it's something that's good for us."
Blowing up the roster and starting from scratch — or even making a move just to make a move — isn't on the agenda despite the fact the Jazz have lost five of seven games, aren't currently in a playoff spot and still face hefty luxury-tax fines even after ditching about $10 million off their books after last month's trade with Oklahoma City.
"You don't do something for a cosmetic reason because you're struggling and think, 'Well, this will look good,' " O'Connor said. "We'll continue to address whatever we can as far as improving the team."
That's something the Jazz will likely explore all the way up to the NBA's Feb. 18 trade deadline.
"His job," Sloan said of O'Connor, "is to do what all general managers do — is call and find out if anybody has somebody that will make our team better. Will this player make our team better? That's just part of the business."
The frustrated Jazz players realize that, too.
Even, maybe especially, one whose name is often the first to pop up in trade talks.
"I'm sure Kevin is getting calls every day," Carlos Boozer said.
"That's our management's job," he added. "And for us as players all we can do is do the best we can on the court and play, period."
Or at least begin doing that again.
"I think we need to start pressing a little bit more, start playing with a little bit more sense of urgency," a frustrated Boozer said the day after a disappointing 91-87 home loss to New Orleans. "We've got to win games, man."
Until they begin winning again, however, the rumors might pile up even quicker than the losses.
Not surprisingly, Boozer was specifically mentioned in the Yahoo report. NBA writer Marc J. Spears' league sources claim the Jazz might be "asking for too much for Boozer, and that most teams who trade for him would want assurances they have a good chance to re-sign him over the summer."
Boozer's name has been associated with trade rumors since last summer when the power forward publicly claimed he was going to be shipped out of Utah — preferably to teams in Miami or Chicago. So dealing with the wheeling-and-dealing whispers is nothing new or particularly bothersome for him.
Boozer did, however, admit it could affect his teammates who "haven't been in that position before."
C.J. Miles believes Jazz players won't let trade talk get in their way of trying to snap out of their current funk.
"There have been trade rumors on this team for two years, and I think everybody's still here for the most part," Miles said. "Until something happens, I mean, we're just going to play. … As far as a mental thing, I don't think it's a problem for anybody."
The Jazz did make a transaction on Tuesday, picking up D-League point guard Sundiata Gaines from the Idaho Stampede to bring their roster up to a league minimum of 13 players. Utah had been undermanned for two weeks after trading rookie point guard Eric Maynor and injured Matt Harpring to Oklahoma City for salary relief.112 comments on this story
The Yahoo report also claimed that Kirilenko and his huge salary — $16.4 million this year, and nearly $18 million in 2010-11 — are being shopped around.
"It's also little secret," Spears wrote, "the Jazz have been trying with no luck to trade forward Andrei Kirilenko and his hefty contract for some time."
But Sloan, always a fan of stability, would prefer to see his players "continue to work" through these troubling times. It's certainly not time, according to the Hall of Fame coach, for the players or management to panic.
"The best trades you make are the ones you don't make," Sloan said. "That's always been pretty much evident over the years."