So the trade deadline came and went, and Chris Mullin is still a Warrior, and Derek Harper is still a Maverick - by his own choice, amazingly enough.
Apparently the closest the Jazz came to a trade was a deal that would have sent center Greg Foster, swingman Jamie Watson and perhaps a draft pick to Dallas for veteran guard Harper.In an interview aired on ESPN's SportsCenter Thursday night, Harper said that a deal he wanted, which would have sent him to Houston, fell through. Then he said, "There was a Utah deal, but you go live in Utah. Nothing against Utah or their team, but I don't want to live there."
(Don't believe that for a minute, however. Harper didn't come to Utah because his ego wouldn't let him play behind both John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek. Ask yourself: How many players would turn down a chance to play for a team with a shot at going to the NBA Finals, so they can stay with a going-nowhere team like the Mavericks? With Houston, Harper would have been the starting point guard.)
Karl Malone, for one, was irritated by Harper's attitude. He watched SportsCenter while icing down after Thursday's win over the Celtics, then said, "I just watched ESPN a while ago and I saw Derek Harper say, `You go live in Utah.' That kind of makes me (upset)."
Harper doesn't have a no-trade clause in his contract, but apparently the Mavs' owners assured him when he signed as a free agent during the offseason that he wouldn't be traded without his consent.
Malone declined to comment on the Jazz's inability - or disinclination - to make a deal.
"I'll say this," he said. "I've got teammates here I respect, and that's all I'm going to say about it."
Then he frowned and added, "At the appropriate time, I'll comment on it."
Stockton was supportive of management's decision to maintain the status quo.
"We have a very good team," he said. "If they wanted to make a move there were probably ways they could have made us even better. But sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make, and that's probably thesituation we're in right now."
Scott Layden, Jazz director of basketball operations, didn't offer any specifics on deals that weren't made, but essentially indicated there were no offers so good as to be impossible to turn down.
"There's always the assumption you're going to make a trade and catapult forward," Layden said. "But we could have taken a couple steps back, too. We have a good group, on and off the court."
Layden did acknowledge feeling a little stymied by the tendency of some of his colleagues to wait until the last minute to make deals.
"That gives me a lot of frustration," he said. "The mentality is, `Hey, this is the deadline, this is when we actually have to consider it.' A lot of those deals could have been done a day or two ago."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan offered a word of support for forward Bryon Russell, who some wanted to see traded to Golden State for Mullin.
"You didn't hear me say a word about trading Bryon Russell," Sloan said. "I told Bryon Russell, if we traded him for Michael Jordan, I'd probably trade him."
Russell appreciated the vote of confidence.
"I'm glad Jerry stuck by me, and I'm giving my all for this team," he said.