The Reverse Fix

It was tough to watch Al Jefferson last season. He was a bit tentative, a step slow and what was once a scowl of determination looked more and more like sulking. But it was understandable. He was trudging about on one knee, surrounded by new faces and learning a new system. The writing was on the wall and he knew he never had a chance.

There were flashes of brilliance in Jefferson’s first two Minnesota winters. In the age of the uber-athletic forward, Al was a throwback: an earthbound player with a skill set that aged gracefully. His intuitive footwork, soft hands and endless array of pump fakes established him as one of the league’s best postmen. He worked to extend his range, improved his passing and became even more dangerous. Of course he wasn’t without his faults; for such a fundamentally sound offensive force, he was a woefully inept defender and the aforementioned improvement in court vision was from absolute blindness to mere nearsightedness.

Make no mistake though, Al was much more than a bottom feeder hoarding stats and losses, in the eyes of many he was an All Star. Unfortunately, in the eyes of those who mattered he wasn’t a winner like David West. It was quite ironic. Kevin Garnett was an All Star the previous two seasons on teams that struggled to win 30 games. But that’s just the way things work: prominent veterans on losing teams and tertiary players on winning teams get the benefit of the doubt while the new guy gets the shaft.

He was so much more than the new guy. He was the new face of the franchise. He was the faint hope that a struggling team could recover from losing a Hall of Famer. He was the one who had to rally his teammates. He was the one left to face the media every night. He was a hard worker who made no excuses and believed in accountability, not lip service. He was the leader. He never had a chance.

In his first days on the job, David Kahn provided a refreshing dose of honesty that drew the respect of many Wolves fans. Al Jefferson wasn’t going to be the best player on a championship team, but he could be a dependable second option. Unfortunately, he’ll have to do so in Utah.

Questionable as the circumstances may be, I’m happy to see him go. Too often players aren’t given the time or conditions to develop. They’re treated as commodities instead of projects. Al suffered through some of Boston’s darkest days, only to be discarded in a deal for their salvation. He emerged as a legitimate force in Minnesota, hindered more by injury and instability than any defense. Now he finds himself in the steady and capable hands of Jerry Sloan, who will appreciate his no nonsense attitude, cater to his strengths and bang out those deficiencies.

Hopefully he’s found a home.

Hopefully we won’t regret it.

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0 thoughts on “The Reverse Fix

  1. “I think that Al recognizes that it will be at least a couple more years before we’re really humming,” Kahn said. “He’s at a point in his career where he wants to experience what it’s like to win. I don’t have a problem with that. I completely understand where he’s coming from.”

    “Al is motivated to have a career-defining season and I recognize the Jazz will be the recipients of that, not us,” Kahn said. “I expect him to help Utah immensely.”

    I find these comments baffling. Are the Jazz also owned by Glen Taylor? So according to Kahn himself, he traded a 25-year old player who is primed to bust out and “help immensely” a division rival (in a division in which your team finished fifth, trailing the fourth place team by *35* games), because he doesn’t have the patience to lose for a few more years, which Kahn thoughtfully “understands”. What kind of message is that to send to your young and impressionable players — “I totally understand if you want to experience winning, let me know and I’ll send you somewhere else so it will be possible?” What?

    Also, all the guys who are enamoured with Beasley and say we’re better off without Big Al because he’s too slow and bad on D. We do have to note that Pat Riley didn’t want Beasley for love or money. Jerry Sloan wanted Big Al and obviously thinks he can replace Boozer, a two-time All-Star. So we just have to hope that Kahn is a better judge of players and talent than Pat Riley and Jerry Sloan. Reminds me of the old Simpsons episode where Homer is elected union boss.

    Do you think you can get back the Dental Plan back?

    Well, that depends on who’s a better negotiator: Mr. Burns or me.

    Dad, I’ll trade you this delicious doorstop for your crummy old Danish.

    (trading) Done and done. (chuckles, then he realizes) D’oh!

  2. Are you guys kidding me? He was the best player on a team that won a total of 61 games, the Dallas Mavericks during that time have won 150 and they haven’t even been that good (Dirk a shaky no.1 on a championship team, a 3000 year old pg as his second best player) the T-Wolves are so far away with Jefferson because he’s not a no. 1 and he might not even be a no. 2 I think Utah is the perfect place for him to be a no. 2 but what championship are they winning? are they better than the Lakers? no. are the better than the Thunder? no, if the Blazers can ever get their act together they are no. 3 in the West for the next 5 years

    Al Jefferson is a fine player but he isn’t a no. 1, yet he is one of those players that the way he plays makes it so he has to be the number one option (i.e. he is kind of useless if he doesn’t touch the ball every possession) so having a real number one in some ways cancels him out.

    I’m really glad he is going to Utah because the last thing I want to see is a player who can succeed fail, but lets take a step back, take a deep breath and realize we just traded a guy who doesn’t pass and doesn’t play defense, and really isn’t a leader, and has never ever won. That Boston Celtics team was a lot better than the wolves teams he just left and they only won 15 games, (Paul Peirce in his prime, plus a bunch of other more talented young players than the Wolves had last year) and Al went for 18-10. At what point is this guy just not a winner? shouldn’t that team have at least hit like 35 wins if a true inside out combo would work with this guy?

    I really like Kevin Love so I am happy this trade opens up more playing time for him, he isn’t the machine down-low Al is but he has a nice post game, draws fouls, hits his jumpers, can give you a little defense at the 4 (not the 5 though) excellent passer and is the best rebounded in the league. if he goes for 19-14 this year will anyone miss Al? I don’t think so.

  3. First time seeing this blog — love it. I agree with your take on the Wolves’ moves this summer; great writng; entries are nicely titled and pictured. Really good work.

  4. Rooting for Al Jefferson these past few years, I was always aware that I was watching a fundamentally flawed player. He just never seemed to have the temperament for quick passes, hard drives to the basket, or help defense.

    But I’m said to see him go anyway. I went through puberty in jubilant observation of Hakeem Olajuwon as he out-clevered his opponents on the low block, and Big Al Jefferson is likely the closest thing I’ll ever get to root for.

  5. I am a Jazz fan living in SLC. You poor guys in Minnesota don’t know a good thing when you have it. You just got rid of your best player. Thank you. Now D-Will and AJ can both go for 20 and 10 for the next 3 years while you guys keep drafting/signing point guards. At what point do you guys just start watching hockey?

  6. Enjoy winning 52 games and losing in the second round of the playoffs every year while there are 3+ teams that are clearly better than you and have brighter futures in the West

  7. Seriously Justin? You are going to rip the Jazz? I am pretty sure almost every other franchise’s fans have the right to rip our idiotic organization.

    It must be soooooooo terrible being a Jazz fan, lol. Go ahead and keep ripping on them for being consistently successful the past 20 seasons. /sarcasm.

  8. My point is we’ve been there college wolf. we sat through 7 seasons of a good but not good enough team. It’s boring. I personally would rather be rebuilding because the only way you are going to get to the championship level in a small market is getting lucky in the draft and drafting Durant etc.

    The Jazz are nice and I like the squad they have but do you seriously think they are going to go anywhere with this team? Al Jefferson is a nice player, but he isn’t better than Carlos Boozer and they couldn’t get it done with him.

  9. Are you a twins fan college wolf? Have you been pleased with the last 10 years of “consistency?” Are you content just getting swept in the first round of the playoffs?

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