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News » Monson: It's Groundhog Day for the Jazz

Monson: It's Groundhog Day for the Jazz

Monson: It's Groundhog Day for the Jazz It's a time of hope for the Jazz . In a limited sort of way.

Forget about whether they can win a championship. That's not what 2009-10 is about.

It's about financial wherewithal and whether this team can hang together well enough to finish third or fourth in the West. It's about value for the dollar, especially in a small market where the Jazz will have some explaining to do regarding the supposed need for any future help from big-market teams.

Especially when the Jazz are outspending almost all of them.

In fact, the provisions put in place to protect teams like the Jazz are what will heavily penalize them this season: luxury taxes.

Their payroll is one of the highest in the NBA. They will pay millions in extra taxes, to be distributed among the more fiscally responsible clubs.

Value for the dollar? For 90 million dollars?

The Jazz might finish near the bottom of the league in that category. They will be better than most NBA teams, better than the Warriors, the Clippers, the Pacers, the Suns, the Grizzlies, and teams of that ilk. But they likely will not be better than the Lakers, the Spurs, the Blazers, the Cavs, the Celtics, the premier teams.

And that's an extraordinary circumstance, that the Jazz somehow have found themselves in the same sentence with the big spenders.

It didn't help them that Carlos Boozer opted in for one final year for $12.7 million. The Jazz did not expect that.

But the salaries aren't the worst part of it. Spending precedes championships. Excess precedes championships. That's life in the NBA.

The Jazz's problem is they're blowing that excess on the wrong players.

In his late years, Larry Miller said he wouldn't mind blasting through the salary cap -- if it meant a legitimate shot at a title. But for a shot at third or fourth in the West?

Something went berserk along the way, and a big part of it Larry was directly involved in: Andrei Kirilenko's max-money deal. No matter how often we talk about that, how often it is said that it seemed like a good idea at the time, it remains a gaping hole in the Jazz's resources.

So the money rushes out while the Jazz try to figure how to stem that flow in the seasons ahead.

This year is a short-time deal. As steady and stubborn as the club has been regarding personnel, and either the inability or disinclination to change it, the team next season will finally evolve.

Boozer's contract will accomplish what the Jazz front office couldn't during this offseason. It will force him out. Maybe they'll trade him before the deadline in February, maybe he'll become a free agent.

But that will positively change the dynamic of the Jazz , even if it decreases their offensive productivity. Boozer's points will be missed. His lack of commitment will not.

That's one of the things to watch this season.

Will the Jazz get Boozer's best? Will they get some effort on defense? Will they get his presence in the lineup when he is dinged? Will they get a new attitude?

It would take a complete transformation for fans here to embrace him again. And the team won't be capable of scratching up what heals all wounds: Larry O'Brien's trophy.

But there is good stuff: Deron Williams will be Deron, a talented, gutsy competitor, a pro's pro in his prime. He'll score more this season because ... he can. Paul Millsap will not allow his fat new paycheck to compromise his effort. He's not wired that way. Ronnie Brewer will play hard, will miss outside shots, will get a lot of steals. Mehmet Okur will hit jumpers and open up the middle for everyone else. Kirilenko will be a nice role player.

And the Jazz will make the playoffs and get eliminated in the first or second round. They will be fun to watch, at times, and then fall short.

That's a sure thing, almost as though the last two paragraphs have already happened.

Oh, wait. They have.

It's Groundhog Day at EnergySolutions.

What's the old quote about history?

Those who fail to learn from it are bound to repeat it.

It will just be more expensive this time.

GORDON MONSON hosts the "Monson and Graham Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 1280 AM The Zone. He can be reached at . Alt Heads:

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Added: October 27, 2009


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