Studies In Crisis Management

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Forget the recent slides for a minute.

Take a good look at both the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks and recognize what they are right now: two teams that had lofty (and in the case of the Mavericks, championship) aspirations who are now  suddenly forced to reassess things heading into the second half of this season.

They are a study in crisis management, two very different approaches to crisis management.

The Mavericks have already begun their process, as you knew they would after Caron Butler went down with a severe knee injury and Dirk Nowitzki continues to struggle while playing with a knee injury of his own. New faces dot the roster (Sasha Pavlovic, Peja Stojakovic) and the Mavs have to figure out how to play with without Nowitzki, who is showing his mettle playing on a knee that is clearly not as close to 100 percent as he or anyone in Dallas would like (take notes Jay Cutler):

“After three weeks out, my legs are gone at the half every game,” Nowitzki said. “I feel slow. And it wasn’t like I was a beast before.”

After listening to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on the radio this morning — “we’re not done yet,” he told the guys on Mike and Mike in the Morning – it’s clear that the Mavericks aren’t ready to give up on their title hopes.

Some things, though, appear to be out of the equation for the Mavericks as the season moves forward. Chasing the Spurs for the top spot in Southwest Division, Western Conference and the entire league is no longer the top priority — or as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News suggests, “it will have to wait until the 2011-12 season.”

Still, the Mavericks’ proactive approach to their recent slide (3-7 in their last 10 and down to 5th in the Western Conference standings) has to make their fans feel at least cautiously optimistic about what could happen between now and the trade deadline next month.

On the flip side we have the Jazz, an organization that has operated a certain way for decades and doesn’t appear interested in changing, despite another mini-tailspin (losers of four straight for the first time in nearly two years and just 4-6 in their last 10).

The strongest words have come from the two most important figures in the Jazz operation, coach Jerry Sloan and All-Star point guard Deron Williams. And they are not speaking the same language right now.  Sloan is preaching patience while Williams is talking about immediate solutions to a multitude of problems he sees with his team, as Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune details here:

Williams said that a much-changed Jazz squad had a “better mesh of guys” in 2009-10, longing for the days when ex-Utah guards Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver could command attention and respect from opposing defenses, in turn stretching the floor and balancing out the team’s offensive attack.

And Williams again pointed out the Jazz’s inability to run Sloan’s offense like it needs to be executed, as everything from Utah’s poor floor spacing and timing to the simple inability to set hard screens has prevented his team from “flowing.”

“We’re trying to run half of a system and then half just freelance,” Williams said. “We can’t do that. We’re not the Phoenix Suns. We’re not the New York Knicks. We’re not just coming out here and playing one-on-one. But that’s what’s happening. Things are breaking down and we’re going one-on-one the last five seconds of a shot clock.”

But Williams’ strongest statements were delivered when he was asked about the organization and coach that he plays for possibly making changes as a season past the midway point moves toward the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

He said “of course not” when it was mentioned that a franchise possessing Andrei Kirilenko’s expiring $17.8 million contract appears unlikely to make a major move as the stretch run approaches. Thus, the Jazz will likely have to dig their own way out of a deepening hole.

“That would be what [Sloan] wants,” Williams said. “I’ve heard him say that on numerous occasions. So I guess that’s what we’re going to have to do.”

When Williams was asked if he has the ability to ask Sloan for on-the-court changes, his response was layered in sarcasm.

“We’ve been running the same plays for 23 years. Why change now?” Williams said.

He added: “I’m just going to play basketball, man. That’s all I can do.”

If this sort of chatter makes Jazz fans nervous, we understand. When your coach and star point guard are on opposite sides of the fence like this, you should be worried about where you go from here.

Ultimately, Sloan will decide what goes on with the Jazz, same way he has for the past 23 years. But this can’t bode well for the future. Williams will be a free agent one day and you have to wonder if he wants to spend the prime of his career butting heads over the offense and personnel issues while his All-Star peers chase titles together elsewhere.

Crisis management. Similar issues with very different approaches to fixing them. Only time will tell what works best.

39 Comments

  1. Carl says:

    I like the article, but I don’t think you can say that from these comments Deron has a problem with the offensive sets and plays, however, I think it can be taken that way to stir the pot if you want. One thing, Jazz probably never get the respect they deserve, but it will bring Dwill attention if he is framed as being disgruntled and he will be liked more on another team, somewhere else. It goes without saying that Boozer proved his worth to the Jazz by helping them get to at least the second round three of the last four years and they are having issues working in new players, but the Jazz team is playoff bound despite doing a rebuild. I thought Boozer should’ve been an allstar last year and probably would’ve been if the Jazz got the respect they deserve, but when there is a chance to create controversy the Jazz will finally get attention, as the end of the article seems to show. I think that Dwill getting snubbed as an allstar earlier in his career only made him not care even more for the approval of the rest of the league, and now everyone wants to tell him how good he is going to be somewhere else should he bounce. The sad fact that the rest of the league needs to have knowledge of is that you don’t need approval to make the playoffs and the Jazz have proved for about 20 years now. When everything is said and done people are more willing to respect you and your accomplishments, this is admiration not approval, and only a fool would choose approval over admiration. You can take Dwill’s comments as a dispute over the Jazz playbook but I think Dwill is saying the talent on the team isn’t meshing with the system and really nothing more. If anything, it sounds like he’s expressing a desire for better execution. From what little I know, Dwill seems more concerned about what’s going to happen three months from now, than two years in FA. The fact is that the playbook has been great for him and the Jazz organization has helped him be successful. The new talent is a step to carry that success into the future and Will mesh if the talent is there. Both Jazz and Mavs are managing their crisis in their own ways which the article points out, but I think they can also see some value in different methods. Bottom line, imo, Dwill is saying the Jazz aren’t executing, by the time the playoffs come you have to say that naturally the talent will have meshed more and they will be solid if they execute.

  2. Gary says:

    The Jazz are looking pathetic. No one is hustling and they are playing like they don’t care so….didn’t see this happening.

  3. Taylor says:

    Mavs fan here-

    Dirk’s knee appeared near 100% tonight vs the clippers, so he’s getting there. Also, Roddy Beaubois is about a week or so from return… if he can be anything close to what he’s been hyped up to be, I see the Mavericks getting right back in this.

  4. Jeff13 says:

    Utah take Melo! I think utah needs his scoring abilities.. haha

  5. Dave says:

    I’m an huge Jazz fan, so here’s where my opinions come from.

    First point, Jerry Sloan’s system is a great one, as long as all players are onboard. I think that’s where there’s a bit of a disconnect, a few players still haven’t completely bought into the system yet.

    Second point, Jazz lineup is simply too small. Here’s my lineup idea: Obviously, D Will on point. Watson/Price backup. At SG, start Raja. CJ Miles/Gordon (the kid) Hayward backup. SF, Here’s where I think Millsap should start – he’s quick enough and has shown that he can hit the mid-range shot but also finish at the rim BUT he’d be bigger than most SFs. Kirilenko/Evans backup. PF, Jefferson (where he really should be playing anyway). Elson backup. Center = Fesenko. Yes, Fesenko – he is a dominant force in the paint on D and he’s surprisingly quick for his huge size – if I were Sloan, my biggest focus would be to DEVELOP Fesenko, he could be a top center. Yeah, I said it. Backup, Okur.

    Third, hustle and passion. Where is it this season?? I haven’t seen it yet, just glimpses but not nearly enough.

    Make these few tweaks and you have a team that can contend with any.

  6. Bahadir T. says:

    I think D-Will is the best point guard in the NBA right now. He just needs to respect his coach and have some patience. Okur will get better by time and Millsap will be the 6th man,
    Am a big jazz fan and i expect a lot this year.

  7. Chris says:

    Lets give credit where credit is due…..the Jazz have a system that works thats why they make it to the playoffs every year and managed to make it to the finals twice in the 90’s. The Jazz of the late 90’s that went to the finals against the Bulls only lost because it was Jordan’s Bulls. They were facing the greatest player of ALLLLLL TIIIMMMEE! And argueably the best team ever assembled. Howrever that Jazz team had depth, great role players, and one of the top 5 one two punches in league history in stockton and malone and all committed to Jerry Sloan’s system. This Jazz team doesn’t have a true center, doesn’t have any depth, no players that can stretch the floor on the wings, and no great one two punch. If they can find scorers and shooters to stretch the floor, find a solid center so al jefferson can move to power forward, and add some depth to that bench they could be one inclredible team in that system.

  8. Kash says:

    Go Bulls! Best trade ever! Brewer, Boozer, Korver! Sorry guys. Chicago will win it all this year.

  9. D-WILL IS JUST ANOTHER PLAYER, NOTHING GREAT says:

    to pete.. don’t even think about comparing kg going to boston to LEGONE.. look the first gme of kg as a celtic in minessota. People cheered for him!! he nevere quited he gave everything on the court, and never thought he was a one-man show eventhough he was.. d will is just another good player i dont understand why people make such a huge thing about him wanted to leave another “good team”. Maybe if he teamed up with blake and gordon in a couple of years with the celtics big three gone and the duncan era finished, they would have a great chance at a championship (they still have to beat miami tough)

  10. PAULBRADY says:

    RE-take notes Jay Cutler- don’t need to go cross sport for refferences- how about – TAKE NOTE CHRIS BOSH”

  11. richuncle says:

    D-will should come join the Lakers and D-Fish soon. He can take over the point guard roll in L.A. and win a championship for himself and the team before he gets any older. Fish and Williams were good friends in Utah and would be an easy move for him to come to L.A. and get with a Championship organization. Dallas can still put it all together in the playoffs this year. Chandler is the best defensive center in the West and he is the key to the Dallas move up to start this year.

  12. cortes says:

    What the jazz need is someone to help d-will another all star he cant do it all by himself

  13. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Hoops Quotes, sportscardcollector. sportscardcollector said: Studies In Crisis Management « NBA.com | Hang Time Blog: There are so few great teams in the NBA and so many ver… http://bit.ly/fM3LyB [...]

  14. Erikthe10man says:

    The Jazz needs a 2-guard that can move well in a pick and roll offense, which they had with Wes Matthews. Raja is OK, but more so as a backup, not a starter at his age. Millsap would be better suited to come off the bench, but as of right now there’s nobody to fill the hole at the 5 spot, so Big Al can’t play the starting PF right now. The Jazz need more skill players, not stars – and Rip Hamilton would fit in perfectly. They also need to look at moving Jefferson – his skill set clashes with Sloan’s offense.

    As far as D-Will being frustrated, he ought to be. He’s an unselfish player who believes in the system. Sloan is the best coach in the NBA, but his system needs the right mix of talent, which they currently do not have.

    • BigZo says:

      Jerry Sloan is not the best coach in the NBA….. He has never been coach of the year. He has never won a championship….. He is a great coach when he has the players he needs to make his rotation work. His organisation needs to make the moves to get them, or, be happy to be that team that never quite made it…. It sucks but its true

  15. Old School says:

    Yeah. Both the Mavericks and Jazz will never win a title. Reason: They don’t have 3 All Stars to compete like Boston and Miami does. Orlando is in that same boat with them as they don’t have enough Allstar power behind dwight. No team in the history of the NBA has ever won with only one All star. It doesn’t help the Mavs that Caron is lost for the season and Dirk is only half a star with that injured knee. The Jazz only have one definitive star in Deron Williams. So both teams will forever be spinning their wheels in quick sand and won’t be getting past the Spurs, Lakers, or even OKC anytime soon.

  16. The Mavs obviously need to make some adjustments until Dirk gets back to full strength, but I don’t think there’s anything keeping them from a deep playoff run in the spring. They just may not be seeded as high. Dallas shouldn’t worry just yet.

    The Jazz, on the other hand, are not in a good place. Sekou is right, it’s never good when your coach and franchise player are on completely different pages. I agree that D-Will needs to be patient to a certain extent, but I’d be frustrated too. He really is carrying the team. But I also think a trade could be a good thing too. Sekou has said it before and David Aldridge agrees, get Rip Hamilton to Utah! They are too organizations that need what the other can give. I go into more detail here- http://theunofficialreview.com/nba/fine-tuning/ . Do you think this would work?

  17. The Hammer says:

    Go Spurs!!!

  18. The Hammer says:

    I agree with so many of you. I like the Maverick and the Jazz but they both failed to make the necessary adjustments during the off season. Mark Cuban just want a championship but Mark, that doesn’t come by keeping the same team year after year. In the last couple of years you brought additional players like Caron Butler, Ty Chandler, Al and the rest. They are all good players but they are also seasonal and played with several teams before Dallas. The Mav already own Novitzki, Terry and Kidd. By adding this group to your already aging group was a mistake that you will have to live with for a couple of years. Chances are that the Maverick will make it to the 7th or 8th seed if they can sustain a good run thru to month of February.

    Utah is a younger team but they made a mistake by letting go the guys that put them on the map the last couple of seasons. The fact is that they played well together…this team not so much yet. The Jazz will probably make it to the play offs in the lower seat spot that will be challanged by many other teams in the west.

    The Spurs and NOLA retooled their teams and that is why they are doing so good.

  19. Pete says:

    Everyone hates on the big three in Miami haha, i think they did what a lot of players did before, ESPECIALLY what the Celtics did…i mean come on…how was KG different from LBJ’s situation? he was THE ONLY REASON Wolves had any respect left. And now we see what Cavs are really without LBJ. But in regards to D-Will, i hope he either gets some help in his team, or moves onto better things soon, cuz as much as i like his play, his talent is getting ruined by not being able to get into some sort of rythm wiht his team. Also look at all the chagnes Magic did, thats gonna be a thing to see how they do soon. Man, this season is crazy if u look at it. I love it.

    • D-Kota says:

      The reason the KG situation was different was because KG, Allen, and Pierce all are aging and are (although they don’t show it a lot) declining. Lebron, Wade, and Bosh are all under 30 and could possibly be together and the best in the NBA for another 7 to 8 years maybe even more, where as in Boston they are all over 30 and have to keep fresh, young, promising talent around them to make sure that they are competitive all the time. Anyway I’m a Jazz fan and I think that they should have done everything they possibly could to have kept Wes Mathews, he is a beast. Raja can’t replace them. Okur needs to get healthy to spread the floor and make it so we have 2 major threats coming off the bench in C.J. and Millsap when we move him back to the bench. D-Will needs to calm down and wait, since we have a lot of new faces and big Al could be an all-star once he gets into the system and really starts to churn with D-Will. Sloan does need to change up his offense a bit because it is not 1997 anymore. Last but not least, I as a Jazz fan was waiting on the draft pick we recieved from New York for 5 years and we draft Gordon Hayward, really?!?! He only went as high as he did because of his run in March Madness. He will be nothing in the NBA.
      P.S. we will not trade AK and he will take a veteran contract next year. And whoever said that the Jazz should get Melo, really, that won’t happen in a million years. SLC is not a big enough of a market to accomadate Melo’s ego. He won’t settle for this small of a market, he needs attention.

  20. anderson3151 says:

    D will is right. They needed shooters in this offense in order to space the floor. Kover was a big loss for them. People don’t realize how good of a passer he is. Same with Wesley Matthews, he was a big part of the jazz’ success last year. it’s just too bad that they cannot afford him. Bell cannot replace Wesley Matthews. The surprise is that Miles is actually playing his best basketball ever. I think that the problem is Gordon Hayward, it seems like he doesn’t understand the system at all. Maybe he is still young. But we definitely need Okur back to his old self so the jazz can skretch the floor.

    On the other hand, Dallas has too many stars on the team. Usually a championship team consists of two superstars and a few glue guys. For example, kobe and shaq, they had Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Brian Shaw. The same thing with the San Antonio Spurs back in 1999, Tim Duncan and David Robinson, had Avery Johnson, Sean Elliott, Jaren Jackson, Mario Elie. Dallas has no chance of winning in my opinion.

  21. tcao128 says:

    Im starting to dislike D Will. His ego and the media is starting to get to him. What he needs to do now is have trust in his coach and be patient and not cause any media trouble. They are still in the run for the Playoffs, and surely Portland or Clippers won’t catch up any time soon.

    • Clark says:

      I agree – D Will has become a prima donna. He acts like every broken play is the end of the world instead of playing ball. We’ll see if Lebron ruined the NBA if all the best players team up for 3 or 4 good teams and the rest with nothing. Maybe they’ll all get matching “Loyalty” tattoos to match Lebron.

      • Trey says:

        What about Ray Allen, KG, and Paul Pierce? They may have affected his decision because he sees how successful they have been.

  22. Well first of all I need to underline the Okur factor.cuz when he is on the floor he just creates brutal matchup problems for their oppenents bcs of his amazing 3P shoot ability and also he weights almost 7 foot to be able to compete with the other Western giants like bynum or any other5but notice that i dont mean Okur is a great defender i just mean his size and weight°.When he starts to finds his rythm i bet he would be the core element of their offensive machine.and also milsap got to move to the bench again.i can see that he recently plays well but being well especially in the wes is not enough you got to be great.all he needs to do is to give his them a perfect spartk from the bench.

    • bradenjames says:

      well said! i love milsap but he is better off the bench. Okur hopefully gets healthy after all star break and then can start with big Al starting in the 4 spot. Then we could have CJ and milsap coming off the bench! With AL and Okur starting there is great height and talent to compete with all of the teams with good bigs. (lakers)………….P.S. why are we not trying to get Rip Hamilton yet? Raja and Hayword combine for 4 points a game!

  23. riley says:

    go jazz!!! please get out of the losing streak. defeat LA or the SPURS & if u lose 2 both better beat Timberwlves

  24. B-Whit says:

    I don’t understand how you can be one of the hottest team in the NBA… then all of sudden, flick a switch and be a team that loses to the worst teams in the NBA. It blows my mind, and it happens every year with this team. They’ll be hot and looking like they’re in amazing shape, then the next game, it’s like they’re a bunch of jr. high school kids running around not knowing what they’re doing.

    It’s absolutely ridiculous, can you blame Jerry Sloan? Sure, why not… he does need to switch up his game, it’s the old days. His game plan was flawless in the old days, it’s new era for Basketball. He needs to switch it up or retire.

    As for the team, they need to step up and stop being a disappointment. They know they’re a good team, they’ve proven it. Why are they acting like they’re at the bottom of the standings, they’re not. They need to wake up, realize they’re still in a good position and get their butt’s in gear and play some good Basketball.

  25. Toivo says:

    I agree completely with the previous comment. Neither of these teams is a championship team and straight up the Jazz should never have gotten Jefferson because he is an undersized center in the western conference and will never survive a 7 game serious with the Lakers, Spurs or Mavericks. Millsap is the 4 on that team or Jefferson is but to play them both at the same time is problematic as Williams has pointed out. I however don’t see things in crisis mode yet however because they still are a competitive team and Okur is still not playing at the level he was last year and he is important to the spacing of the floor Deron is talking about.

    But the Mavericks are a different story. Straight up they will never win a championship currently constructed. They just don’t have that guy and i love my hommie Dirk to death but he is just not the kind of personality to will his team to victory. Their chance to win was 2006 when they lost to the Heat and that team just doesn’t have the personnel to win a championship. They aren’t better than the Lakers, Celtics, or Spurs and those are the teams they have to get through to win a championship. They will always be a competitive team and push people to the brink but will never get over that hump.

    • BC says:

      The Jazz picked up Jefferson to replace Boozer at the power forward spot – he’s not a center. The Jazz have lots of potential centers – Fesenko, Elson, Okur, but haven’t decided for whatever reason to move Millsap back to the bench – he’s certainly too small to play the 4. The Mavs looked great until Dirk and Butler went down. If the Lakers lost their two top players to injury would they even make the playoffs? Barely made the 8th seed before Pau joined.

      • Zzanzabar says:

        @BC

        It is not the teams top TWO players that make the difference (yes I know that is waht happened to Dallas but that is not the issue), but the nucleus of the team (which for Dallas would be Dirk). Does anyone seriously expect Dallus to make the playoffs if Dirk was out for the rest of the season, or if Carmelo was gone would Denver even sniff the playoffs? No, and that is what seperates the great teams of the NBA from just the good ones. Good teams are good because of a player, great teams are great because of their PLAYERS.

  26. Exec says:

    D Will to the Clippers!

  27. mr. santiago says:

    zzanzabar lebron and wade or the nucleus of miami… well put it this way miami without lebron would still make the playoffs easily buts that it…… wade did last yr with a crappy team… its only because wade is a beast and also miami is usually always a top 10 defense!!!! and orlando it is dwight and only dwight everyone else has to prove themselves again cus they all fell off

  28. Zzanzabar says:

    There are so few great teams in the NBA and so many very good ones that it is sometimes hard to discern the difference. Dallas is a very very good team, but not great, the same could be said about Denver (except you would have to take out one ‘very’). Why? Because if you remove the nucleus of team like this they immediately go into a tailspin. The nucleus of Boston is KG, in L.A. it is Kobe, the Spurs it is still Duncan, Orlando, Howard and Miami, LeBron. With the exception of Orlando (hard to tell with the Magic, with the new crew and all) remove any one of those players and the team would still be very good (i.e. good enough to easily make the playoffs).

    The only way to currently create a great team is pay the support players enough to resist the siren call of ‘free agency’, lure quality players with your teams ability to win, and for the key players to be willing to adjust and renegotiate their contracts and play style for the team. Dallas had done two out of the three, but getting true quality players like Carmelo or CP3 to join Dirk has not been very successful.

  29. trix says:

    I really dont see both these teams winning a championship in the near future. Mavs had their chances (blew it in the finals and first round exit to warriors). Their best years seems to be in their rearview and dirk doesnt seem to be getting younger so are the other mavs from kidd to terry. Jazz on the other hand have been doing this for the last 23 years. They will be a good playoff team but nothing more. They dont like to take risks and thus dont really get better. They will always be a good playoff team with this approach. The best crisis management should be in the middle of these two approach. Not trying to make an immediate big change while not being too patient. Has to make some minor tweeks in the beginning and build on that.

    • kyle says:

      do you not follow the jazz? they already did make a minor, actually huge tweek, in getting rid of Boozer,Korver,brewer, and Mathews. and picking up Al Jefferson, and Raja Bell. that’s a huge roster change, that added great new chemistry, but lack of talent is catching up with them quickly.

      • alvin says:

        thats what the jazz is lacking.. its a bad move to let go of boozer coz he and d.will could have made a one-two punch for the jazz like stockton and malone. they could just added some additional talents to improve their game further. if the jazz would get melo (if he decides to leave the nuggets) then it will be a great chance for the team to be in the spotlight for the first time..

    • Jupit says:

      Dallas had a great shot of winning this year if they didn’t lose two of their best players o injury? And the Jazz haven’t been able to move AK47 considering he’s $18 mil year and a medicore player – saddle a team paying franchise money to a flop makes it hard to make changes.