Every year the question is the same. Marsha Layden, wife of Jazz Director of Basketball Operations Scott Layden, asks if the Jazz expect to make any moves before the Draft Day trade deadline.
"She asks me every year," says Layden, "and I say no. Sure enough, then we end up making a deal."Barring any trade movement, the Jazz will pick at No. 47 overall - the 20th pick of the second round - in tonight's NBA Draft at Indianapolis. Their first round pick this year was handed to Philadelphia last February in the trade that brought Jeff Hornacek to Utah in exchange for Jeff Malone.
The trade deadline was today at noon (MST). The draft begins at 5 p.m. (MST).
Though Layden says he has been skeptical in the past of the Jazz's chances to make major moves, they have done so in three of the past four years, just prior to the draft. Last year on Draft Day the Jazz swapped Mike Brown for Minnesota's Felton Spencer; the previous year it was Eric Murdock and Blue Edwards for Jay Humphries and Larry Krystkowiak. In 1990 the Jazz made a trade two days before the draft, acquiring Jeff Malone in exchange for Eric Leckner, Bob Hansen and draft picks.
"But I don't see how something's going to happen this year," Layden says with a resigned tone.
Although the Jazz may not move up in the draft or work a trade before the deadline, that doesn't mean they aren't working toward those goals. Layden says this year's activity has been the same as always - which means talking with every team in the league. He says the coaching staff is also putting in more hours than normal as they attempt to scout the best prospect that will still be available at No. 47.
"The perception is that we're just sitting around and not working at it," continues Layden, "but that's because we're very close-lipped about it. We're not out there broadcasting what we're going to do. We're very quiet and private, so there's the perception we're not doing anything, that we won't do anything, and that nothing is going to happen."
Layden has already said two players the Jazz have shown considerable interest in drafting are Kansas State guard Askia Jones and Vanderbilt guard Billy McCaffrey. By Tuesday afternoon, as they were whittling down their list a final time, he also mentioned 6-foot-8 Providence forward Michael Smith, who led the Big East in rebounding three straight years, and Illinois forward Deon Thomas, the school's all-time leading scorer. But Layden says he expects Smith to go higher, perhaps early in the second round. Another possibility, Missouri guard Melvin Booker, the Big Eight Player of the Year, is expected to go early in the second round.
Players whose stock has risen in recent weeks are Florida State guard Charlie Ward and Xavier forward Brian Grant, while Georgetown center Yinka Dare's stock has been plummeting. None of those will be around when the Jazz pick.
Last year, 18 second-round picks never even played in the NBA. Besides the Jazz's Bryon Russell, picked at No. 45, the only other second-rounder to make significant impact was L.A.'s Nick Van Exel .
"It will be very tough, an against-all-odds type of guy that we'll be picking," says Layden.
He adds, "Besides, if it happened once (with Russell), it can happen again."
Past No. 47 picks
1980- Kurt Nimphius, Denver
1981- Art Housey, Dallas
1982- Mike Wilson, Cleveland
1983- Kenneth Lyons, Philadelphia
1984-Ronnie Williams, Boston
1985-Gerald Wilkins, New York
1986-Michael Jackson, New York
1987-Tim McCalister, Clippers
1988-Vernon Maxwell, Denver
1989-Reggie Turner, Denver
1990-Derek Strong, Philadelphia
1991-Keith Hughes, Houston
1992-Darren Morningstar, Boston
1993-Chris Whitney, San Antonio