After the swelling finally subsided, Mo Williams’ worse fears were realized. The thumb injured on Dec. 22 would need surgery, meaning the team leader would miss six to eight weeks.
Williams is more than just a guard for the Jazz. He is the emotional leader, responsible for the pace and the attitude the team plays with. The team took some time to adjust without their leader, losing three of their following four games.
The point guard is the most important position in the NBA. Of the top five teams in the NBA, only Miami lacks an All-Star quality point guard. The Jazz players’ best seasons were behind All-Star point guards John Stockton and Deron Williams.
Mo has proven capable of handling the role of the point, but now the responsibility will fall on Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson, both of whom are past their prime and, at best,e quality backups.
Now more than ever, NBA fans and front offices are expecting the Jazz to pull off a big trade before the Feb. 21 deadline. But do the Jazz need to make such a move?
Utah has several options on the roster already. In the final minutes in Monday’s win over the Dallas Mavericks, Corbin went with a backcourt of Alec Burks, Randy Foye, and Gordon Hayward. The three led the Jazz to a 13-0 run to close out the Mavericks, 100-94.
The Jazz toyed with this idea in the preseason in case of injury. This is an effective lineup due to the players’ size. Plus, fans of Burks love the increase in minutes for the youngster.
Should the Jazz seriously consider making a trade, a roster spot would have to be cleared prior. Raja Bell has yet to be bought out, holding on to the 15th spot. Kevin Murphy, who is assigned by Utah to the D-League, could be cut by today without the Jazz having to guarantee the remainder of his contract. If the Jazz want to add another player, Murphy’s status on Friday will give fans a clearer idea what the front office is thinking.
Whatever the plan is, the Jazz find themselves in a much better situation than they did just a few weeks ago. The most difficult part of the schedule is finished, and starting Monday, 15 of the next 20 will be played in Salt Lake City.
The remaining schedule is considered one of the easiest in the NBA. The gut feeling is they will use the lighter schedule to wait for Williams, and use their current lineup to gain ground in the Western Conference.