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Utah Jazz: At 23, Jazz want contributor — someday

SHARE Utah Jazz: At 23, Jazz want contributor — someday

If the game were limbo, the pole practically would be brushing the floor.

That's how low the bar will be for whomever the Jazz tap with their No. 23 overall selection in the first round of tonight's NBA Draft.

"I think what you do is you look long-term," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said. "When you're drafting 23rd you say, 'Who can we get that possibility can contribute?' When you do that, maybe it doesn't have to be next year. But hopefully sometime in the future.

"So we would like to find somebody that can contribute in some way, shape or form, at some point in time. Does it have to be next year? No, not necessarily. You've got to understand you've got to wait on some people."

The Jazz are so unsure about whether or not they'll even like what's available at 23, in fact, that punting is a viable option.

"There's certainly a possibility. I'm not gonna say there's not," O'Connor said when asked if Utah would consider trading its pick - perhaps to acquire one for next year, when it's possible the Jazz's will go to Philadelphia to complete the December trade for guard Kyle Korver.

Yet that is not to say there may not be something there at 23 that the Jazz like.

One possibility among many is 7-foot-2 Georgetown center Roy Hibbert, though his game is geared more toward offense — and does not feature shot-blocking skills so coveted by coach Jerry Sloan.

Hibbert is a solid passer for a center, however, and that fits neatly into Sloan's system.

O'Connor had no comment when asked if the Jazz would be willing to trade up to get the 21-year-old senior.

And they may have to if they really do want him.

Charlotte on Wednesday acquired the No. 20 overall pick from Denver for a future protected first-round selection, and it's been rumored the Bobcats might be eyeing Hibbert with that choice.

Hibbert's agent, David Falk, also has been the longtime agent for Bobcats basketball boss Michael Jordan — which ultimately may prove to be more, perhaps, than mere coincidence.

There also is said to be potential interest in Hibbert at No. 18 from Cleveland, whose own basketball boss, Danny Ferry, also has been represented by Falk.

Beyond Hibbert, there are a host of bigs that Utah would consider should they be available — including, but not restricted to, Florida's Marreese Speights, Nevada's JaVale McGee, Stanford's Robin Lopez, Rider's Jason Thompson, Indiana's D.J. White, Kansas' Darrell Arthur and perhaps Texas A&M's DeAndre Jordan.

Another option is to take an international big, either French center Alexis Ajinca (who could be long gone by them) or Congo power forward Serge Ibaka.

If they did, it would be because they really wanted him — and not, O'Connor suggested, for the sole purpose of stashing a foreign hopeful overseas for a year or longer.

Don't rule out the possibility that the Jazz will draft a perimeter player, even though they already have a 14-man roster — included potential restricted free agent C.J. Miles — that is overloaded with them.

Brandon Rush of Kansas and Courtney Lee of Western Kentucky are possibilities, though neither may be available. One who may be is Memphis' Chris Douglas-Roberts, and he would be seriously considered.

Whomever it is, however, best not count on contributing anytime soon.

Asked if a second-rounder could possibly help the Jazz — Utah also picks 44th and 53rd in the draft's second round, if it doesn't deal one of those selections — player personnel vice president Walt Perrin seemed quite skeptical.

"I don't know how much a first-rounder is going to come in and help this team, with the way we are structured, with the players we have coming back," he said.

"A second-rounder," Perrin added, "would have a tough time making our team, to tell you the truth."

That's simple reality for an organization that has taken part in five playoff series over the last two postseasons, and that has only one potentially expiring contract (Miles') among its roster members from last season.

"At 23, with our team, I don't know how much he's gonna help us next year," Perrin said of any potential pick. "We hope (for him) to, but seriously, realistically, he may not get on the floor."

Hello Utah Flash, in other words.

That in mind, the Jazz must project not only to next season — but also far down the road.

And they must try to remember come crunch-time that whomever they draft, at least in 2008, is unlikely to be NBA-ready.

"We have to look and see, 'What will he be for us in the future?"' Perrin said. "Can he be a starter, or can he be a rotational player in two or three years down the road?"

"What we look at is, 'Can they play in the NBA (eventually)?' and what kind of player they're gonna be," O'Connor said. "If it's a year from now or two years from now, that's as ready as I think you can get."

NOTES: According to ESPN.com, "In addition to any questions about attitude, a number of high-ranking NBA sources told (reporter Andy) Katz that one of the main reasons the (Miami) Heat wouldn't select (Michael) Beasley is the hope that they will land Utah's Carlos Boozer in a year when he can opt out of his contract." According to the Miami Herald on Wednesday, "One executive who spoke to the Heat said Miami would consider dealing (Shawn) Marion for a top player but also would be content allowing his contract to expire next summer and in 2009, sign Carlos Boozer, who would love to play here, or Elton Brand (of the Los Angeles Clippers), if he doesn't opt out now." After practicing in Las Vegas later this week, Boozer and Jazz point guard Deron Williams will join the other 10 members of USA Basketball's Olympic team for a promotional appearance Monday at Rockefeller Center's famed ice rink in New York. The team's uniform for the Summer Games in China will be unveiled then. The Jazz will not hold their usual open-to-the-public draft party at EnergySolutions Arena tonight, and will instead conduct business in the privacy of their practice facility.