Pappas: Jazz need a change

By By Nick Pappas and By Nick Pappas

By Nick Pappas

There are two types of Jazz fans. There are the postseason screamers–the fans who lie dormant like groundhogs until right around the start of April. They climb out of their burrows, raise their arms in a yawn, and commence in foaming at the mouth and yelling Sunday School obscenities.

The other Jazz fans are basketball fans. To them, the Jazz represent purity. These fans consider a perfectly executed pick and roll more beautiful than a thousand alley-oops. Their grandfather is Jerry Sloan, a man who will sit you down on his knee, teach you garbled wisdom, and spank your ass for good measure.

Now that the season has ended, the screamers will crawl back in the ground. They will lament how awful the team is and not come out again until next year’s run.

The purists, the fans who live and die with every Jazz win and loss, are left in a quandary. “Where do we go from here? Has the time come to look for holes in the hull of the ship?”

The captain is Deron Williams. No matter what, he will go down with this boat. The plan is to pay the man $80 million through the 2013-2014 season. He is worth every last penny. Williams was a workhorse this postseason, a second team all-NBA selection behind his media-induced nemesis Chris Paul. Where his finger points, the wheel turns.

Of greater concern is his crew. At halftime of Game 6, a rabid fan grabbed the announcer’s microphone and demanded an Andrei Kirilenko trade. AK had faced strong criticism recently, having skipped practice to apply for his Visa. Perhaps he was planning his summer vacation a little prematurely, but he responded with a noble effort in the last game, hitting two crucial 3-pointers that gave the Jazz one last shot at an incalculable comeback. His shooting percentage is better than last year, and he is consistently the second man in assists on the team.

Mehmet Okur, the 7-foot shooting guard, continued his “Toro!” defense, waving the red flag and letting the offense run past him. When he drives, it feels like he flipped on a blinker to move into the slow lane. Still, he can electrify the crowd with his 3s, and his ability to spread the floor can’t be denied.

This brings us to the big man, second-in-command, Carlos Boozer. There isn’t a player on the Jazz more frustrating. With his back to the basket, Boozer can move his feet like a ballerina, pirouetting to the hole with ease. He is less of a power dunker and more of a left-handed Peter Pan leaper. He made 55 percent of those shots in the regular season.

In the postseason, however, he was atrocious. He commanded double teams and took them for block after endless block. When it wasn’t a block, it was a fall-away jumper. Granted, it was a shot that went in during the month of February, but it was a continuous clang in April.

Most troubling was the defense we’ve all come to expect-the step to the side and bow to your opponent. At the beginning of the season, a report found in an opposing locker room told players to drive at Boozer. He’s soft. He averages 0.5 blocks a game. He proved them right.

This is our crew-the same three on a slowly sinking ship. Who is going overboard?

They all have value. Larry Miller needs to make a trade, but who: the overpaid Russian, the one-dimensional Turk, or the pillow-soft Alaskan?

It doesn’t make me happy to say it, but the answer is Carlos Boozer. He hurts us defensively every play, and he has an ordained backup in the relentless Paul Millsap.

Disagree if you want, but a true basketball fan believes in purity. Nothing is more pure than defense. No one is more defenseless than Carlos Boozer. Andrei Kirilenko may have skipped practice to get his Visa, but it’s Boozer who should be given a long vacation.

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