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Utah Jazz: Al Jefferson sidesteps offseason speculation

Published January 8, 2013 12:04 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Al Jefferson won't let his mind wander beyond his next game, let alone to the offseason, where he hopes either the Jazz or another team awaits with a max contract.

But this is the shadow that will follow Jefferson throughout the remainder of the season, from city to city, as folks wonder if the nimble center has given any thought to a free-agency strategy.

"No, actually," he said following Monday's shootaround. "I haven't thought about it because that's something else that I don't want on my mind right now. It's all about taking care of this season right here with my teammates."

Entering Monday's game against the Mavericks, Jefferson led the Jazz with 16.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. The Mavericks have been floated as a potential destination for Jefferson if the Jazz choose not to re-sign him.

With six weeks remaining before the NBA's trade deadline, the veteran has also been included in plenty of chatter on that front.

But when free agency hits, the Mavericks could offer proximity to Jefferson's Mississippi home, and if they miss out on marquee free agents Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, the Mavswould seem likely to throw their cap space at the 28-year-old center.

"The only team I'm looking at right now is the Utah Jazz as a good fit," Jefferson said, "because it's the team I'm with right now. I don't think outside of the box like that."

Jefferson is just one piece in what promises to be a complicated offseason for the Jazz. Assuming the Jazz don't make a trade, they could have as many as nine free agents. The group includes point guard Mo Williams, who will be out a minimum of six weeks after undergoing surgery on his right thumb Friday in New York.

However, the Jazz have actively avoided making free agency a distraction.

"I think it's being handled very well," Jefferson said. "Only thing I ever thought about with that situation was just Mo being hurt. I know how much that sucks being hurt in the last year of your deal. If anybody could bounce back from it, it'd be him."

Hall of Fame

Three people with Utah ties were nominated Monday for the 2013 Naismith Hall of Fame class.

Utah native and champion coach Dick Motta, former ABA star and Jazz broadcaster Ron Boone and former Utah Stars center Zelmo Beaty were all included in a group of 31 who will be reviewed by a nine-member panel. A 24-member committee decides the final group, which will be announced during the NCAA men's Final Four in Atlanta in April.

Motta has been nominated three-straight years and is considered the best candidate of the three to make the Hall. Boone set a record by playing 1,041 consecutive games between the ABA and NBA before that streak was eclipsed by A.C. Green. Beaty was Boone's teammate on the 1971 Stars' ABA championship team.

Locked on hockey

This time last year, the Jazz were just three weeks into an abbreviated season, knocking the cobwebs off after a prolonged summer that, thanks to a lockout, stretched nearly to Christmas.

Yeah, they feel for all the hockey players out there.

The NHL and its players reached an agreement early Sunday to bring an end to that league's lockout after 113 days.

While Paul Millsap said he isn't a hockey fan, he was pleased to see the labor dispute come to an end.

"I'm glad them guys are able to go back to work," the Jazz power forward said. "We've been through the same situation a few years ago, so I'm glad they're able to work something out and get back to work."


Twitter: @tribjazz




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