With accusations flying about Deron Williams' alleged and denied involvement in the resignation of Jerry Sloan, how much pressure is on Wiliams to stay in Utah? And is the prospect of his free agency depature the kind of thing driving the talk of a franchise tag? We discuss in this week's Eye on Basketball Friday Roundtable.
Posted by Matt Moore
Matt Moore: Okay, so the big debate today is whether Deron Williams was the one who sunk Jerry Sloan. Some are saying it's absolutely the case, some are hardcore defending the Jazz' point guard, including Kobe. So I guess the question I'd start with is this...
Coach-Killer or not, does this put more pressure on Deron Williams to extend with the Jazz? To even be tangentially related to the departure of the longest tenured coach in the NBA and then ditch the squad? That's like LeBron to the fifth power.
Royce Young: That's the catch in this thing that's messing with me. Yeah, maybe Deron Williams forced out Jerry Sloan. And if he was, he got his way. It seems like that would make this really hard to re-sign with them, you know, since he pushed out Jerry Sloan, the guy who'd been there as head coach for 23 seasons.
At the same time, like you said Matt, if he doesn't, then he pushed out Sloan for no reason. He helped get rid of a Jazz legend and then said peace out a year later. Ouch.
Fans forgive though, especially if you win. So if the Jazz win and Williams remains at a high level, they'll forgive and forget in the end. It's a players league and Williams is a franchise player. I would bet if you polled the fanbase and said, "Jerry Sloan re-signs, but Utah signs Williams to a three-year extension" the fans would take Williams.
But all of this only forgiven if he stays. And at this point, I'm wondering how happy he really is, especially if he feels like the villain in town.
MM: What's it going to take for these guys, though? At what point do they realize that there aren't enough L.A.s and Bostons for all of them? I get the frustration with trying to build a winner in a small market. And I understand the drive to win a championship. But you'd think they'd want to win it the right way at some point.
Additionally, am I the only one who feels like this bolsters the Owners' case for a franchise tag? If star players are going to try and run organizations and get what they want, then bolt, the owners have to have a mechanism to protect their investments, don't they?
Ben Golliver: The instant scapegoating of Deron Williams was a bit too lazy and forced yesterday. Given that both he and Sloan admitted there was a confrontation yesterday, confirming multiple reports from multiple sources, something went down and surely words were exchanged. Sloan is obviously a principled man and something was different this time around that forced him to take a stand and make a very, very difficult, life-changing decision. Do I think it was anything specific Williams said, or how he said it, or how he's been acting was the critical difference in leading to this decision by Sloan? No way. This guy's NBA career stretches six decades, he's seen every type of player, coach, writer that has ever come through this league, versions of guys that are extinct. He's had every player/coach fight you can have 100 times over.
Saying Williams was the reason Sloan left is a discredit to the coach and to the man. That any player or person could get him to do what he didn't want to do seems like a slight and a slap in the face. If we know one thing about Sloan it's that he was an "I did it my way" guy. He's not going out any other way.
Looking at Williams, it's big time trouble in the Salt Lake paradise. Sloan was the best thing the franchise had going for it, along with its high character standard and ethics. SLC is a small-market, out-of-the-way place that has avoided a lot of issues that cripple small-market teams thanks to the efficiency and productivity of Sloan's system and his unique ability to turn role players into solid pieces and to turn potential starts into All-Stars and Hall of Famers. With that gone, what's Williams' motivation for staying? He already knows his team cannot compete financially and keep the players he wants. LeBron James and company are proving that the grass really is greener. There is certainly room for him on another super-team.
If and when he does leave, I think it will be worse than Sloan's resignation for him. I also think that the two situations will become conflated again when that happens, pushing him into Chris Bosh territory.
MM: Was Tim Duncan the last small-market-loyal superstar?
BG: Probably too early to answer that question, but it's a good question. The franchise tag issue will ultimately be the decider on that, I think. Loyalty isn't totally dead in the NBA -- look at Steve Nash in Phoenix, among others -- but think about how difficult the proposition of signing a franchise-changing player to two consecutive extensions really is for small-market teams. You've got to have a business model in place off the court, a deep roster of players on the court, the timing has to be exactly right with the other contracts to ensure he can develop chemistry, you have to have the right personality as both coach and GM, you have to take risks to support the player's whims in free agency occasionally and then you've got to pray all of that mattered to the guy, who is capable of walking across the street and getting significantly more famous and rich simply by virtue of his zip code and the state's tax code. That's a nightmare.
When you think of it like that, a franchise tag makes a lot more sense, doesn't it?