Deron Williams’ game-winning floater [video]

Watch Williams hit a beautiful little floater to beat the Bobcats on the road.

The Jazz are riding a five-game winning streak that includes road wins against four Eastern Conference playoff teams from last season: Miami, Orlando, Charlotte and Atlanta. Williams is playing at an All-NBA level (21.3 points, 10.1 assists, 4.7 rebounds) and the Jazz are getting great play from Paul Millsap (21.9 points, 9.3 rebounds) and Al Jefferson (16.7 points, 9.0 rebounds). With Jerry Sloan leading the way, the Jazz are going to out-execute their opponent just about every night which will usually put them in position to win. Maybe this will be the year that Sloan finally wins Coach of the Year.

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Al Jefferson, the anti-Boozer?

Feb. 05, 2010: Minnesota Timberwolves center Al Jefferson finished with 15 points during an NBA game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX Minnesota defeated Dallas 117-108.

Gordon Monson of the Salt Lake Tribune thinks so. Here, he compares Jefferson to Carlos Boozer:

Nobody wants to beat down the guy who was here before, while propping up the newcomer, but the former cared much more about his personal investment in himself than his personal investment in his team. Jefferson is a whole other thing.

Here’s why that matters: Teammates pick up on that stuff. They know about concerns regarding financial security, about taking care of No. 1, and that certainly has an important place. But, at some point, a pillar of a team has to have strong, authentic feelings — convictions, really — about winning and sacrificing and paying the competitive price for the guys who are on the court and in the locker room with him.

Jefferson is that.

Assuming his knees are okay, Jefferson should be a nice addition to the Jazz and an overall ‘better deal’ than Boozer. Deron Williams is said to be very happy with the acquisition, and that’s important for the franchise.

Jefferson has played for losing teams for much of his career, so it will be interesting to see how he fares in Utah’s winning environment.

Jefferson to the Jazz?

If you want a lesson on how NBA trade exceptions are used, take a look at what the Utah Jazz are reportedly doing to acquire Al Jefferson.

The Utah Jazz have quickly moved into the lead to acquire Al Jefferson and were actively working Monday night to complete a deal with Minnesota, according to NBA front-office sources.

Sources told that the Jazz and Timberwolves are on the verge of completing a trade that would slot Jefferson’s contract into the $14 million trade exception that Utah created earlier this week in its sign-and-trade deal with Chicago for Carlos Boozer.

But because its trade exception is large enough to absorb Jefferson’s $13 million salary next season, Utah can complete a trade for Jefferson without sending back any players to the Wolves. Sources with knowledge of Minnesota’s thinking said Monday that the Wolves’ main aim in shopping Jefferson in recent weeks has been securing multiple future first-round picks and taking back as little salary if possible.

Via his Twitter account Monday night, Utah CEO Greg Miller wrote: “I just approved a Jazz roster move that I’m very excited about. Planning to share details tomorrow.

Playing in the NBA’s version of purgatory, Jefferson posted 21-and-11 in 2007-08 and 23-and-11 in 2008-09 before suffering a knee injury that required surgery. He finished with 17-and-9 playing alongside Kevin Love in his post-injury 2009-10.

He’s just 25 and one of the league’s true back-to-the-basket big men. Assuming his knees are okay, he will serve as a nice replacement for Carlos Boozer.

There’s an old adage — when one door closes, another opens. Congrats to the Jazz if they can swing this trade. The Mavericks were also very interested in Jefferson.

T-Wolves’ plan in free agency

Per the Star-Tribune

Kahn said a staff member spoke up in a draft meeting last week and expressed the same doubt.

They pulled out a list and went through the possibilities one by one. They crossed off free agents deemed too old to fit the Wolves’ rebuilding plans and came up with a short list of players the team’s staff collectively considered out of their reach.

“We counted three players we didn’t think we could get,” Kahn said. “By the way, I think you could put us in 92, 93 percent of the league.”

Three players?


That excluded short list — presumably James, Wade and Bosh — would leave the likes of Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, David Lee and Rudy Gay possible.

“I don’t want anybody here to feel like we’re some poor stepchildren,” Kahn said. “We’re not. We’re building something of great value that will be sustainable. I think we have a chance to have some serious discussions with free agents after July 1.”

If nothing else, Minnesota’s David Kahn is one of the more entertaining general managers in the NBA. Last year, he drafted three point guards in the first round — passing on Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings in the process — and traded the one that was most NBA-ready (Ty Lawson) away. He’s still waiting on the promise of Ricky Rubio to run his club.

This year, he drafted for need (Wes Johnson) and passed on arguably the best player in the draft (DeMarcus Cousins), even though he’s trying to trade away his best player (Al Jefferson). Passing on Cousins may ultimately be the right move, but centers who can score and rebound like he can don’t come around very often. There’s also a school of thought that his best chance to thrive is in a smaller city where there aren’t as many ‘distractions.’

It sounds like Jefferson is being dangled in order to acquire a top-notch center or power forward, even though the T-Wolves already have the promising Kevin Love playing that position.

The T-Wolves do have a chance to sign a quality free agent, but chances are that they’re going to have to overpay. That means a max contract for a second-tier free agent like Carlos Boozer or Rudy Gay, who may have to decide if they want to take near-max money to play in New York, New Jersey or Miami, or max money from Minnesota.

Al Jefferson apologizes for DUI

As far as DUI apologies go, Al Jefferson’s is pretty good. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

“In a way I’m glad it happened, because now I know and I know I’ll never do it again,” he said. “I could have hurt myself. I could have hurt someone else. I’m so upset with myself. I’m sorry for the embarrassment I caused my family, my teammates, myself, my fans. I’m a good person. I just made a mistake. I promise it’ll never happen again.

“I didn’t realize the danger that I put myself in, put other people — innocent people — in. I’m ready to put it behind me. I keep telling myself how stupid I was and I wish I could turn back the hands of time. But I can’t. Like I said, it will never happen again. I don’t care if I have to walk home. I would never get behind the wheel when I had something to drink again in my life.”

Asked what he will do differently next time, he said, “Honestly, I was so close to home, I would have walked. I’ll call a cab. I’ll never be by myself again. The crazy thing about it, I was in the process of dialing somebody to come and pick me up and I said, ‘Oh, it’s right down the road from home.’ I’m just kicking myself. There are so many different ways I could have handled it. I wasn’t raised like that.”

Every few months one athlete or another gets dinged with a DUI and I’m always left wondering — why not hire a personal driver or simply call a cab? Al Jefferson makes $12 million a season and he feels the need to drive home after spending a night at the bars.

This is something that athletes have to plan for every time they go out, because once the drinks start flowing, it’s tough to make sound decisions. The best way to do it is to take a cab there and back — that way there isn’t the temptation of getting behind the wheel when the night is over.

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