5 questions with Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor
How were you feeling about the pressure and concern you were getting from Jazz fans to get something done right away?
You feel pressure, you always feel pressure, because you're competing and you want to win. ... I know what everyone was thinking, but you can't make decisions based on what you feel the public would want you to do, or how quickly can you get something done. You've got to do the right thing. The one thing you've got to caution yourself with is not to make a bad decision because you feel pressure. Because if you do, it can last a long time. I think we were fortunate to have ownership step up and say they would spend the money to keep us in elite status, which they did, and now I think it was our responsibility to try and get the right players and get the right fit, and hopefully we have.
I like the idea that the changes that we made weren't forced changes. They were things that we were able to complete and had options to do, and we chose those and we were lucky enough to get 'em.
Are you concerned about Raja Bell's age (33) and recent injury history?
I actually think it's better, less minutes on the legs. If you look at this, he keeps himself in terrific shape and it wasn't a leg injury that he hand, it was a hand, and that can happen to anybody. The biggest thing we concerned ourselves with was we look at Bruce Bowen as an example with his age and gave those as the same kind of years that hopefully we get out of Raja. Is there a concern? There's always is a concern, for anybody. ... One of the statistics that we use is number of minutes played, and his number of minutes played is really reasonable for where he is in his career.
He saw an opportunity, he knows who we are and the great thing about it is he wanted to play for Jerry again. ... There's one or two guys we thought we needed to try and get, and we got one of them. He can play defense and shoot the ball.
Are you still looking at other roster moves, or do you like the team you've got now?
If it makes sense, we'll look at some things, but we're not, again. I think you've recognized the commitment the Millers have made to improve the team. If you look, we've not only replaced each position a little bit, but maybe with us getting a year older and a year better, and maybe with other teams getting a year older, maybe we've closed the gap a little bit.
What is the team's most immediate needs now?
We've always like to have a big long guy that can block shots, but those guys are difficult to find. Depending on if a trade comes up to improve the team, we'd look at that. We're not opposed to looking at a lot of things. We would look at anything we can to improve our team. We still have to get a couple of roster spots filled.
Where do these deals put the Jazz as far as the competitive balance in the Western Conference?
The Lakers have the best talent in the league, but that doesn't mean you can't beat 'em. And that's the way our head coach thinks. Just like we talked about when we went over to the series with Denver. Everybody felt bad for us when we lost Okur and they said oh, it might be a five-game deal, but we don't look at it that way. We look at it as an opportunity. I think we've improved our defense with adding Al and adding Raja, I think our younger kids will get better, and we've got a young draft pick that knows how to play basketball. With all those things, I like where we're at as compared to a week ago.