So Many Thank Yous

With only one game left in the 2015-16 Jazz season, it looks like it’s going to come to an end as regularly scheduled: only a very small chance of extra games still remains. As such, my first season as a full-time Jazz writer is coming to a close. It’s been a fantastic year, and a little bit of a dream come true. With that in mind, I’d like to thank all of the people who made this possible. (Don’t worry, I’m not dying or quitting or anything, I’m just thankful.)

I’ll start with my dad, Fred, who first introduced me to the Jazz. I’d been to a Jazz game before, and of course cheered during the Jazz’s Stockton-to-Malone years, but my first extended, in-person chance to see the team was when he bought a truck at a Larry H. Miller dealership. They had a promotion where if you bought a car, you got a pair of half-season tickets to the Jazz. That was the 2003-04 season, the Andrei Kirilenko/Carlos Arroyo year, where Jerry Sloan did his best work. Then, three years later, I was 15 years old and working my first summer job, making $8 an hour. 64 dollars per day is so many dollars for a kid that age, with absolutely zero idea with what to do with it. I brainstormed, looked up the amount that Jazz season tickets cost ($5 per game in the upper bowl corner), and bought one.  I was lucky that my dad bought one too, and was willing to take me to every game. Thanks, Dad. (And thanks, Mom, too, for letting Dad go to all of the games with me.)

The view from my season ticket seats from 2006-2013.

The view from my season ticket seats from 2006-2013.

Second to only my literal father in terms of importance to my career is Spencer Hall. I first met Spencer at a Jazz Twitter meetup in, I think, 2010. The infamous “lockout is over” 3 AM spaghetti-and-meatballs meal (with the awesome @shandonfan) at Dees followed in 2011. In 2013, Spencer called me and wanted to talk about Salt City Hoops. When he offered me the Managing Editor spot, I was so excited: it meant I would have a credential to Jazz games and have a full-time spot on the Salt City Hoops Saturday Show. Eventually, due to his success running KSL.com, his team expanded to the point where he could hire me full-time last May. Spencer is personally responsible for where I am today, and I’m very thankful for that. If he wasn’t successful, and hadn’t believed in me, I wouldn’t be here. I’m very lucky.

Thank you to Josh Furlong, my direct supervisor at KSL.com, for his leadership, great ideas on site analytics, and our great lunches at a very small set of locations. Thank you to the fantastic staff at KSL.com (Faith Jolley, Megan Christensen, Natalie Crofts, Angie Treasure, Devon Dewey, Xoel Cardenas, Jordan Ormond, and the departed Celeste Rosenlof and Martha Ostergar) for being incredibly fun to work with every day. I come into the KSL offices every day, even when I don’t necessarily have to, because it’s so much fun to hang out with you guys.

Some of the KSL.com team.

Some of the KSL.com team.

 

Thank you to Sean Walker, my BYU/RSL/everything sports counterpart at KSL.com for doing such a great job at covering all of the bases that he does. It’s unclear how you know so much about even the most obscure of sports topics, but that, plus the sheer number of hours you work, makes you so effective.

Angie Treasure has been incredible this year. First of all, she’s one of KSL.com’s best assets, working overtime on running her sections, writing articles, and running the entire site on some weekend shifts. Then, because of her Jazz fandom, I asked her if she wanted to record a podcast with me. Feedback was so good on the resulting product that I quickly made her the regular podcast co-host. And then, when Salt City Hoops needed an in-town beat writer to cover Jazz home games after that spot opened up, she bravely pointed out that she was the best candidate to give it a try. We tried that, and found out that she definitely not only belonged, but brought a new, unique, and fun voice to the coverage of the team’s games. In short: her ability to immediately step in to any role and then be excellent at it is absurd. Plus, she’s been a stellar friend since I started working for KSL.com. Thanks, Angie.

The Salt City Hoops staff has been awesome to work with, all season long. Despite difficult circumstances, their passion for the team and their work shines through, and they deserve massive credit. Dan Clayton‘s Salt City Seven pieces are a top-5 piece of team-specific writing anywhere in the NBA blogosphere. David J. Smith is so well liked because he’s one of the world’s nicest humans and legitimately cares about everybody; that shows in his work detailing each of the Jazz’s 10-day contract signings. Jimbo Rudding‘s mailbags are the weirdest piece of content we publish, as well as the most beloved. If we stopped, certain segments of Utah would riot. Laura Thompson‘s work has been great this year, from the unique perspective of a former team doctor to a psychological study of being a fan. She comes at things from a different angle, which is so nice. Lucas Falk was a fun addition, and I look forward to working with him more. Aaron Hefner‘s 5-on-5s have been great. Clint Johnson does great, in-depth work too when he can. Thanks, too, to everyone on the SCH staff for writing recaps as your availability allows. This is a labor of love for all of you, and that comes through in your work.

Thanks to Ben Dowsett for his work with Salt City Hoops early in the year, both on the radio show and as Associate Editor of the website. He was tremendously helpful when he was on the SCH staff, and I thought he dealt with the aftermath of two difficult situations this season really well.

Thanks to Dennis Lindsey, Justin Zanik, and Quin Snyder for some fantastic conversations about basketball, from the longest-term picture to the most minute detail, both on and off the record. They’ve exponentially increased by understanding of the game and the Jazz’s moves, and I hope that comes through in my writing and talking. Thanks to Steve Starks, too, for great conversations about the franchise and baseball as well. Thanks to everyone on both the business and basketball side of operations for being so friendly at every opportunity.

I want to thank the Jazz PR staff for all of their help this year. I’ve had so many good conversations with Jonathan Rinehart about different aspects of covering the team, and I’ve learned a ton from his guidance since covering the team. Derek Garduno and Caroline Burleson are super helpful too, and fun to hang out with as we wait for the various media availabilities. Frank Zang and Gina Calvert have been very helpful in arranging unique availabilities on the business and event side of the Jazz.

Likewise, I want to thank the rest of the Jazz’s media horde. Aaron Falk is the world’s best person to be around, the low-key funniest human I’ve ever met. Jody Genessy is a fantastic writer and well-loved to boot: it’s not an accident he has so many friends from around the country. Kareem Copeland‘s been an awesome friend, guest on our radio show, and difficult-to-defeat chess opponent. Tony Jones is the most gregarious person in the world. He gets stories because he makes friends through his demeanor, and I wish he could be around in all of my social situations. Jasen Lee has been a fantastic foil for triple-digit basketball conversations at the office, he always takes the old-school approach. Ben Anderson‘s great articles for KSL.com and better off-site conversations have been super fun. And David Locke has been a useful outlet for referee rants I can’t share elsewhere, plus has given me some fantastic ideas for things to study.

Thanks to Zach Harper for moving to Salt Lake (thanks to Hayley Byrnes for that), graciously agreeing to host the Salt City Hoops radio show with me, for great work on the show, and then for some great segment ideas since. He’s also a tremendous asset in every trivia round.

Zach and I.

Zach and I. (Photo cred: Hayley Byrnes)

Big thanks to Bill Riley for believing in the Salt City Hoops Show and the passion of our audience, as well as inviting me on his program, Thanks to Tyler Gibbons for walking up to me in 2013 at my first Jazz media day, saying “hey, I like your work”, and inviting me on the ABC4 sports show to talk about it. Through that, he also introduced me to Bill.

Thanks to Jon La Follette for producing our radio show every week, even when he has to work both early in the morning producing Tom Kirkland‘s show and late in the evening doing ours. Thanks to Tom for having me as a frequent guest and some good basketball conversations on and off the air.

Thanks to Nelson Moran and Nicole Hernandez for having me on their halftime broadcast on Spanish radio every Jazz home game, and for translating my jargony basketball thoughts into easier to understand Spanish. It’s so much fun to do the stats and the “claves” every game with you guys. I think that fun shows in your broadcast throughout.

Thanks to my friends for putting up with slow text responses and big gaps in friendship over the course of a busy Jazz season. On the rare occasions when there wasn’t a game or radio show or media event, thanks for finding time to hang out on short notice. Special thanks to Tessie Graham for hosting me in New York City during the Jazz’s road trip there and not kicking me out in the snowstorm despite overstaying my welcome as flights were canceled.

And thanks, especially, to Jazz fans: the passionate audience without which all of this wouldn’t be possible. Because you guys are diehards, because there’s no amount of Jazz coverage that you guys think is too much, because you’re all smart, caring, and inquisitive people, I have my dream job, the best job in the world. Tens of thousands of people read everything I write, something that’s never lost on me. Thanks for being dedicated through thick and thin. I owe you each so much.

Andy

How the Jazz Traded Enes Kanter, and What They Got Back

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

After weeks of speculation, the deal really occurred today: the Utah Jazz officially traded Enes Kanter and Steve Novak to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for a protected future 1st round pick from OKC[ref]More details on this later in the article.[/ref], a 2017 2nd round pick from the Detroit Pistons, Kendrick Perkins, the rights to FC Barcelona C Tibor Pleiss, and the rights to Tulsa 66ers F/C Grant Jerrett. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo was the first to report the trade.

How the trade occurred

Just 8 days ago, Enes Kanter made his trade wishes known publicly for the first time after the Jazz’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks.[ref]I covered what led up to that situation in this article, so this piece will focus largely on the week leading up to the deadline and the breakdown of the trade itself.[/ref] While Utah was very much internally looking at the possibility of trading Kanter before his comments, going public pushed Utah into acting aggressively to find a deal. The Jazz front office insisted that Enes’ demands did not change what they were willing to accept in a trade, but the feeling was that his comments made a long-lasting positive relationship less likely. Continue reading

Analysis: Enes Kanter Hopes To Be Traded From Utah Jazz

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Enes Kanter has told reporters that he hopes to be traded before this year’s trade deadline. Jody Genessy of the Deseret News confirmed. Kanter played just over 18 minutes tonight in the Jazz’s 5 point loss against Dallas, but didn’t play beyond the 6:20 mark of the 3rd quarter.

Later, Jody Genessy reported more about Enes’ trade wishes: Continue reading

The NBA’s Goaltending Leaders

Serge Ibaka blocks Matt Barnes' layup during this season's NBA playoffs. But how often does he goaltend?

Serge Ibaka goes for the block on Tony Parker’s shot during this year’s NBA playoffs. But how often does Ibaka goaltend? (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

Goaltending is awesome.

Basketball players have an unfortunate choice: they can sky above the rim and forcefully reject a shot in a direction of their choosing, or they can meekly hope a shot misses so they may gather the rebound. The former is a remarkable feat limited to only the most athletic and genetically gifted of humans, an artistic feat of animal expression. The latter is a game delay while gravity takes its course. Unfortunately, the rules have chosen to punish goaltending.[ref]Yes, I realize this keeps basketball functioning. Just go with it.[/ref] Lame. Continue reading

Why the Utah Jazz Signed Trevor Booker

 

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

When looking at their team’s performances last season, one thing Jazz management noticed was a lack of toughness. This came out especially on the defensive end: despite a seemingly capable roster, with a lot of length at nearly all positions, the Jazz finished last in the league on that end of the floor. Especially notable was that the Jazz finished 2nd-worst in the league in forcing turnovers. Not only was the defense bad, but it seemed apathetic.

Trevor Booker, though, is the opposite of apathetic. He’s found his niche by being one of the highest-energy players in the NBA: he’s the guy who will always go after rebounds, will scavenge for loose balls, and fight for every inch against taller big men. Booker knows his role too; when asked what he’ll bring to the team, Booker listed, “Toughness. A lot of energy. Leadership. Experience.” Continue reading

Interview with Jazz Fan Favorite Kyrylo Fesenko

(Christian Petersen, Getty Images)

(Christian Petersen, Getty Images)

Kyrylo Fesenko, who played for the Jazz from 2007-2011, was a fan favorite during his time with the team because of his play on the floor, but especially his personality off the floor. If you’re unfamiliar with Fesenko’s time with the Jazz, or just want to reminisce a little bit, check out this video created by Moni from Jazz Fanatical. He’s playing with the Minnesota Timberwolves in this year’s Las Vegas Summer League, and after Minnesota’s last summer league game, I caught up with the former Jazz center for a few minutes. Continue reading

Quin Snyder on his Coaching Philosophy, Player Development, Analytics, and More

Introducing the new Jazz family, featuring Quin Snyder.

Introducing the new Jazz family, featuring new head coach Quin Snyder.

When Dennis Lindsey was hired in San Antonio in 2007, he was concerned about Quin Snyder as coach of the NBA D-League’s Austin Toros.

“(Spurs general manager) RC (Buford) asked what I thought relative to Quin and the position, and I think I’m pretty good at sizing up situations relative to coaches and teams. I said, ‘RC, I’m skeptical.'” Continue reading

Salt City Hoops’ Andy Larsen on ABC4

This week’s Real Sports Live program again had me on to discuss the Jazz’s season so far, the legacy of Andris Biedrins, Corbin’s performance relative to expectations, and whether the most important part of this offseason will be the draft, free agency, or the coaching decision.

I apologize for my hair.

Anatomy of a Deal: How the Warriors used the Jazz to sign Andre Iguodala

Some creative negotiation resulted in Jefferson becoming a Jazzman. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Some creative negotiation resulted in Jefferson becoming a Jazzman. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

It sounds obvious: if you can get both sides to win in a negotiation, it’s much easier to get a deal done.

That was the basis of one of the ten tenets of negotiation in a panel entitled “The Science of a Deal” at this year’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, presented by Deepak Malhotra (professor at the Harvard Business School and author of “Negotiation Genius”). Shouldn’t the 30 NBA general managers be experts at this? After all, they’re shepherding some of the world’s most high-profile negotiations. Continue reading