Utah Jazz: From Contender to Pretender in Only One Year

It’s really quite incredible: the Utah Jazz lost their face of the franchise and best player in the franchise in a span of just two weeks. This is the same team that has been a Western Conference playoff mainstay since 1983, making the post-season in 24 of the 27 years since I was born. They’ve reached the Western Conference Finals six times and got Michael Jordaned twice. And now, a team that had won over 50 games in three of the previous four seasons is on a five-game losing streak, only four games over .500, and falling out of the playoff race.

It was only two weeks ago when longtime head coach Jerry Sloan “resigned” because he was tired of the coaching grind or something like that. It was clear that management was taking point guard Deron Williams’ side in the dispute between the two, so Sloan walked. The blame for Sloan’s departure fell on Williams, and Deron didn’t like that. A week later, it slipped out that Williams wanted to leave Utah when he became a free agent in 2012. And earlier this week, he was traded to New Jersey in a move that caught everyone off guard.

And just like that, the Jazz became a sub-par team for just the second time in 27 years.

With Williams and Sloan shockingly gone, a mass exodus process that began last year has been finalized. The team let Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, Wes Matthews, and Kyle Korver all get away. Boozer became a free agent and the team elected to go with Paul Millsap at power forward instead. Brewer was traded last season to the Memphis Grizzlies and he signed with the Bulls as a free agent. Wes Matthews replaced Brewer in the starting lineup after the February trade, but the Jazz elected not to match the offer sheet he signed with Portland. Korver signed with the Bulls as a free agent, becoming the third Jazz player to join Chicago.

To be fair, the Jazz did acquire Al Jefferson from Minnesota, but they still lost several talented players over the past year. Utah did get back Devin Harris for Williams, so it’s not like they don’t have any players, but Williams is one of the best point guards in the game — Harris is not.

If you want to learn how to blow up a franchise, this is your model. The fans in Utah must still be stunned and wondering what the heck happened to their once contending basketball team.

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  • Anonymous

    Larry Miller is spinning in his grave. This team has been dismantled so badly it may take a decade for it to recover

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    That’s definitely how it’s looking. It’s really sad to see them and so many other franchises get destroyed with star players leaving. The one thing I will say is that they draft well, so maybe that will help. But without multiple All-Stars on your team, you really have no hope these days.

  • http://twitter.com/MrDaGrinchy Chris Cheney

    I think the Jazz have improved with what has gone down. Sure laugh now but you just wait and see as the Jazz make the playoffs once again.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7HCLWE5KITDTJTJWME5VQ7ELGU Dustin

    Wow, this article is flooded with hearsay. Deron never said he wanted out of Utah, and there is no proof that the management took sides in the dispute. You can report these things as facts all you want, but I choose to believe the words that come from the mouths of Williams, Sloan, Kirelenko, Milsap, O’Conner, and Miller.

    They will always be my team, and hopefully this rebuilding process lands them in a good position in a few years.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    We shall see what happens with them. They have some good players, but they’re missing a star and that hurts.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Alright Dustin, you tell me why Jerry Sloan decided to quit out of nowhere? And why would the Jazz trade their best player?

  • Anonymous

    Well LB, I will tell you what i think, I have been watching the Jazz since they came to Utah from, No.
    Jerry loved the game he has gone through a lot his wife has past due to cancer, RIP Larry H.Miller passes RIP. he’s 69 years old he he never got to know his own Kids & Grand kids. it was just his time there was somethings going on about every body in the NBA saying he was predictable and that’s why the Jazz were losing. But if you think Coach JS got run off by a player you don’t know JS
    he just got tired off all the BS it wasn’t one player what was it, 7 years being a player 5/6 years being an asst coach 21 years being a head coach, his life is 3/4 over i wish he would have stayed tell the end of the season, He came in as a Bull and went out losing to the Bulls. Maybe it is time for a change. we will see
    “GO JAZZ GO”

  • Anonymous

    And why they Traded Dwill he wasn’t going to stay after his contract was up in 2012/13 if the Nba goes
    in a lock out next year witch is what there talking about then Dwill would have pulled a Mello and James on them and we get nothing we got a good PG DH & DF 19 year old PF/C two picks what would you due the Jazz have Been Smart in the last 20 Years on there picks we pick Dwill didn’t We so give them some credit it might take one or two years to get back and the Kobe is gone Timmy is gone the ones who gave us trouble. hey Never know maybe were getting these picks & Players for Dwill to come back in 2013.
    LOL I know i miss Dwill and his killer crossover’s………………………………