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Utah Jazz, miffed about Rudy Gobert snub, to propose new All-Star reserve selection process

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) gets sprayed with water by Donovan Mitchell after winning the game against Atlanta at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb.1, 2019.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) gets sprayed with water by Donovan Mitchell after winning the game against Atlanta at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb.1, 2019.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz management isn’t just being vocal about its strong belief that Rudy Gobert deserves to be an All-Star and was wrongly denied the honor.

The front office — which believes Gobert’s slight was “nonsense,” a word used by Jazz president Steve Starks and general manager Dennis Lindsey — is hoping to ensure a similar snubbing doesn’t happen again.

In hopes of improving the selection process, Utah brass will submit a proposal to NBA commissioner Adam Silver to overhaul the way All-Star reserves are chosen, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey announced Friday.

In brief, the Jazz would like a committee to replace coaches and select All-Star reserves based on four criteria: game statistics, advanced stats, win-loss records, and player decorum and behavior.

“This examination of the process is just long overdue,” Lindsey said during his weekly segment on the team’s radio station, 1280 The Zone. “And Rudy, frankly, highlights this.”

Lindsey believes NBA head coaches have “too many conflicts” and responsibilities with their own teams to select All-Star players from other squads. The GM said Starks, Jazz coach Quin Snyder and Greg Miller, the team's NBA Board of Governors representative, are all on board with proposed changes.

The Jazz GM reasoned that the process is flawed for three reasons, among others: (1) Coaches can’t vote for their own players; (2) You could “sandbag” a guy who’s in competition with one of your own players; and (3) Without the public knowing who’s voting for whom, coaches could coddle a player they’re hoping to lure in free agency.

The Jazz’s proposal includes:

— Forming an All-Star selection committee (a la College Football Playoff and March Madness committees). Head coaches would be replaced by former players, coaches, management, scouts, media members and “current but unattached analytic personnel” to provide below-the-surface data.

— The committee would rotate — “share a little bit of love” is how Lindsey described it — and members would be paid for their time and expertise.

— The committee would receive regular updates on candidates, including raw per-game numbers along with in-depth analytics. “The selection process should be an ongoing education process,” Lindsey said, adding that head coaches don’t have time to devote to that each week. “Their job (head coaches) is to organize their own group.”

— The selection results — based on those aforementioned criteria (stats, advanced stats, record and character) —would be made public. “Let’s open it up,” Lindsey said. He added that the hope would be for committee members “voting their conscience and voting to the facts” instead of possibly being affected by personal biases, conflicts of interest or lack of valuable data.

— The selection show could be televised and monetized like Selection Sunday, Lindsey added.

— The All-Star starters would continue to be selected by fans, players and media.

There are others who make a decent argument that it’s time for the NBA to re-evaluate only taking 12 players from each conference, especially in light of the West being so stacked in talent and the league opting for a playground draft to determine teams.

“In our opinion,” the GM said, “these measures should be of the highest possible standards, both tangible and intangible.”

Lindsey said he had honest, heartfelt dialogue with Gobert after seven other Western Conference players — Russell Westbrook, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic — were given the nod over The Stifle Tower.

Gobert earnestly asked Lindsey what the team was going to do to improve the process, if possible, the GM explained to 1280 The Zone.

“I think, given the circumstances, our center deserves a little consideration towards the best way to go about selecting the All-Stars,” Lindsey said. “There’s no reason why you can’t pay a committee of experts that are impartial, that don’t have to worry about retribution from anyone else and then have more time to study this. It would be a great way to engage some of our historical basketball players as well.”

Gobert’s big point to Lindsey was that he was concerned about how his legacy would be affected. The Jazz center also missed out on a $1 million bonus for not being named an All-Star, a sum he’ll still not get even if he’s added as an injury replacement.

“Let’s just try to get it right,” Lindsey said. “Were not saying any of the seven players that were selected are not deserving. I just think that our guy was more deserving than any of the seven. You can go down the line and make an argument. We’ll stand our ground and stand on the facts and hopefully over time contribute to making the process cleaner.”

Lindsey said he spoke to Jeff Van Gundy, and the former NBA head coach and current analyst believes Gobert deserved to be an All-Star. The GM said that sentiment was common amongst unbiased people in the industry with whom he talked. Van Gundy and Lindsey believe that Gobert would be a top-five selection if any of the other head coaches needed to win a game and had to chose a center. Lindsey said only two other centers he’s been around — Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan — have been able to defend, defend without fouling and protect the rim while maintaining position like Gobert does. He also pointed out that the 7-foot-1 French player leads the league in screen assists and creates more space than most for guards and wing players.

“We preach accountability, toughness, unselfishness, the team,” Lindsey said. “All those things our guy highlights and magnifies to the nth degree.”

Snyder, who’s been asked about the All-Star situation multiple times this week, made it clear that he’s had enough about the topic.

"I'm ready to move forward. We’re there. Rudy’s there. Our team’s there. We've got Houston tomorrow night,” Snyder said when asked about the Jazz’s proposal and possibly relinquishing his All-Star vote.

“I'm glad the big fella played well tonight. I thought he showed great composure. We played collectively as a group. That's what we needed to do. We've got to get ready and move forward. 'Focus forward' is what we always say."