For 23 years, Utah head coach Jerry Sloan won 60 percent of his games (1,221 of ’em in the regular season), made it to the Finals twice, got knocked out in one of the first two rounds 18 other times, confused dozens of players with his occasionally incoherent, but nevertheless longwinded mumblings, and stunted the capital growth of NBA tie salesmen for almost three decades. On Wednesday, all that came to an end when one of the most respected, successful and crotchety head coaches the game has ever seen retired because, as reports read somewhere else and regurgitated here have said, his players and the Jazz front office just stopped listening to him. And while that’s sad in its own way, from a fantasy perspective, one wonders where this all leaves the Jazz. No, that’s not crass. It’s fantasy basketball, bros and brosephines. If you own Garnett and Rondo on your team and a report says, “Celtic starter out 3-4 weeks with injury,” don’t tell me your natural first thought is to hope it was Pierce who went down. That’s nature. Scientists have proven it. So the Jazz rotations have had as many peaks and valleys as the Jazz’s record this season. So C.J. Miles is in, the next day, he’s out. Auf wiedersehen, Heidi. Auf wiedersehen, Gordon Hayward. Auf wiedersehen, Andrei Kirilenko. With the exception of Deron Williams (who reportedly “got real” with Sloan after Tuesday’s loss to the Bulls), none of the fantasy-worthy Jazz are playing quite to expectations. D.J. Augustin has flourished with the absence of Larry Brown. Roy Hibbert too, once Jim O’Brien split. I’d watch for Miles, Paul Millsap, and perhaps even Hayward. If there’s a fantasy silver-lining to this real-hoops thunder cloud, it’s the possible, maybe even probable, improvement of those three.
Here’s what else happened last night in fantasy hoops, that just so you know, Reggie Miller is super happy and not at all bitter about:
Ray Allen – Hey fantasy owners! If you’re in need of three-pointers, perhaps Ray Allen could be a good source. He seems to be proficient at them. Also, Reggie said he wasn’t at all upset about being passed up by Allen because “it gets kids talking about shooting.” No it doesn’t. It gets people talking about records. Kids love records. You know what they don’t love? Ninety degree elbow angles and a follow-through at the wrist. Eff, Reggie Miller, that’s why.
Von Wafer – Eight points at halftime. Eight points by game’s end. The Celtics have no bench, which is either a good sign for Nilla or a bad one, when you consider his second half production. I’m leaning toward the latter.
Kwame Brown – You might want to sit down for this: Brown plans on returning to the starting lineup on Friday. Wait, that’s not the part you should have sat down for. My fault. Owners should be sure to get him back in their lineups. There. That was the part you needed to sit down for. What? You stood up after the first part? Well that was a bunch of mishigas.
Monta Ellis – Shot 4-of-12 from the field. Montafunker!
Dorell Wright – Shot 1-for-9. I haven’t seen such a nasty round of shooting since Jared Lee Loughner. Please send all angry responses to Too Soon c/o Grey Albright at Razzball.com.
Ekpe Udoh – 16/7, with three steals in 30 minutes. Wow! He played 30 minutes? Sweet! You clearly didn’t read the two blurbs before this one.
Vince Carter – Time to play “Whoa, Vince Carter! That’s Awful!” Half Man/Half Embarrassing shot the ball only six times and made three of them. He never got to the line and miraculously, six points wasn’t his low this month. Whoa, Vince Carter! That’s awful! And we’ll see you next time.
Grant Hill – After a solid December (16/5), Hill’s been throwing a rusty ol’ bucket of puke onto the box score ever since, (13/2.8 this month). Bench him until Grant Hill remembers that he’s not Jordan Hill.
J.J. Barea – JoeJohn Hot Streak Alert coming in 3 … 2 … 1 … um, Barea’s hot. Hmm, kind of anticlimactic.
Chauncey Billups – Returned uninjured. Stayed uninjured (30/5/9, with three steals and five threes).