Boozer's gone, so now what, Utah?

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Thumbnail image for Millsap.jpgCleveland is still in the mourning phase.

Utah has moved on to the “what do we do now?” phase of rebuilding a team after losing a star.

Except Utah is not really rebuilding, they are restructuring. The Jazz are in pretty good shape. In part because they have Deron Williams, one of the best point guards in the game to build around. In part because they have a team that buys into coach Jerry Slaon’s system.

Paul Millsap (who the Jazz wisely matched an offer to last season and have for three more years) will get the bulk of the minutes at the four. Which is good. When Boozer was out last year, Millsap averaged a double-double. He’s not as complete an offensive player as Boozer, but Millsap is quality.

FanHouse asked Utah’s general manager Kevin O’Conner his thoughts and he said what they need is front line depth. Because he’s too smart to count on Andrei Kirilenko staying healthy all season.

“I think addressing the need,” O’Connor said of what the Jazz will do. “We want to remain competitive. That’s an important thing. We’re not looking to say, ‘We’re not going to sign anybody. We’re going to go into next season.’ We’ll look for a player that will help us win games, and it doesn’t have to be somebody that scores 20 points.”

The Jazz also picked up Gordon Hayward out of Butler in the draft, who it appears from Summer League is a guy that can find some minutes off the bench and contribute points right away. He will not be quite Kyle Korver, but he can start to fill that role.

Then there is the future. After this season Kirilenko’s $17.8 million salary comes off the books, the Jazz have only $36 million on the books for 2011-12. They can look at some free agents or trades that bring them another quality player or two.

Utah is still going to be good this year. And they are primed to restructure on the fly. How many other organizations could pull that off

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.