Friday night was a busy one for the Utah Jazz. There was a few things that happened that involved the Jazz, and not all were on the basketball court.
The first thing that happened Friday was something we had been almost been expecting all month. Late Friday afternoon, Trey Burke was named as the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for the games played during the month of December. During December, Burke led all rookies in assists (5.9), and free throw percentage (91.9%). Burke also ranked second in the league among rookies in points (14.8), and minutes (32.7), and added 3.1 rebounds per game.
Trey’s honor is a rare honor for the Jazz organization. Trey becomes only the second player in Jazz franchise history to take home the award. The other Jazzman to do it was Karl Malone. Malone was named NBA Rookie of the Month for the month of December in 1985.
Trey’s month started off on the right foot when he put up 21 points and six assists in a win over the Rockets. He also finished that game without a single turnover. Another game of note during December was his matchup with fellow rookie Victor Oladipo, who was named the Rookie of the Month for the Eastern Conference this month. Trey dominated the matchup with a career night, finishing with 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. I have a sneaky suspicion that this won’t be the last award that Trey sees coming his way this season.
After the award was handed out, the Jazz were part of a trade rumor involving Richard Jefferson. It was reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein that after talks between the Cavaliers and Lakers involving a Andrew Bynum – Pau Gasol trade had stalled, the Cavs had switched their attention to the Jazz and Jefferson.
Andrew Bynum latest co-reporting w/@WindhorstESPN: ESPN sources say among options Cavs now weighing is trade for Utah’s Richard Jefferson
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 4, 2014
Sources tell ESPN that Cavs remain in Bynum-for-Pau talks with Lakers but also now engaged with Jazz on potential deal for R. Jefferson
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 4, 2014
Jazz fans on Twitter had many different opinions on this potential deal. The reason though that the Jazz were most likely interested in this deal is to clear even more cap room. If a deal were to go down, the Jazz would most likely waive Bynum before the deadline of January 10th to avoid having to guarantee the rest of his contract. They would more likely waive him by January 7th to give him enough time to clear waivers before January 10th. The Jazz are paying Jefferson over $11 million this season. Bynum, if waived before the deadline, would only be owed a little over $6 million from the Jazz. That would save the Jazz $5 million in cap space, however, it would also put them under the required salary cap by about $1 million. If teams do not pay over the required number, the $1 million would then be divided amongst players on roster.
The deal makes sense for both teams. The Cavaliers are looking to dump Bynum, and could use an improvement at the small forward position. The Jazz could make the deal and save money to become even more flexible at the trade deadline and in the upcoming offseason. However, getting rid of Jefferson would also likely cause the Jazz to lose more games. On the bright side, in a season of improvements for the young core players, that is exactly what you would get with letting Jefferson go. Young players get more playing time and experience on the court.
However, Jazz fans shouldn’t worry too much about the deal as it looks to be dead. According to Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer, there is no pending deal between the Cavs and Jazz. One of her sources says, “Nothing is happening, especially with RJ.” So it looks like Jefferson will remain in a Jazz uniform for now, but the conversations that this rumor started among Jazz fans was exciting to hear.
If that wasn’t enough for your Friday night, there was a game played too. Not so much a game, more of a 2nd half was played by the Jazz. The Jazz started off really slow, tried to fight back, but didn’t have enough gas in the tank, and fell to the Lakers 110-99.
The slow start for the Jazz seen them missing shot after shot. The Jazz started off by going 3 for 15 from the floor and watching the Lakers open up the game on a 19-6 run. That wasn’t the only problem for the Jazz. Kendall Marshall, who was making his first start in a Lakers uniform and was just in the D-League last week, came in and dominated the Jazz. Marshall finished the game with his first career double-double. He ended up with 18 points, 15 assists, and 6 rebounds. He also played 40 minutes for the Lakers. All 4 stats were career highs for Marshall.
The other part of the Lakers monster that hurt the Jazz was Pau Gasol. Gasol missed last weeks meeting in Salt Lake City due to a respiratory infection. He showed what kind of a difference he can make as he finished the game with 23 points and 17 rebounds. The Lakers came into tonight riding a 6 game losing streak, which included 4 games against teams that are last place in their divisions.
The Jazz were led by Gordon Hayward who finished as the Jazz leading scorer for the 2nd straight game. Hayward finished with 22 points for the Jazz. Hayward also added 6 assists in 39 minutes. The Jazz had 6 guys finish the game in double figures in scoring. However, one of those guys was not named Trey Burke.
Burke had a rough game after being named Rookie of the Month. Burke finished the game with 6 points on 3 of 15 shooting from the floor. He did however, finish with 9 assists for the Jazz. The other half of the Burke-Burks backcourt didn’t play well either. Alec Burks finished with 3 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists on 1 of 8 shooting from the floor. The Jazz were riding a 2 game winning streak into the game.
The Jazz return home on Tuesday for the start of three straight games at home. 01/07 vs Thunder, 01/10 vs Cavaliers, 01/13 vs Nuggets. The Thunder are missing Russel Westbrook. The Cavaliers are missing Kyrie Irving. The Nuggets are losing games left and right and are fighting with each other. The Jazz have a great opportunity to win some games, not only this week, but this entire month.
Friday was a busy night for Jazz fans. The Jazz don’t have a game for 4 days. We don’t think much will be happening between now and then, but if anything does happen, make sure you keep up to date with us here at Purple and Blues! If you aren’t already, be sure to follow us on Twitter, @Purpleandblues1.