In a lengthy insider piece at ESPN.com, Chad Ford explains why the Jazz placed fourth in ESPN's recent Future Power Rankings, a position that surprised even team GM Dennis Lindsey. "We are a long way from No. 4 right now," Lindsey said. "I can understand on the future ratings why there's reason to be optimistic — with the cap flexibility Kevin has created and the young players that we do have — but cap room doesn't win you games. Young players, almost by definition, don't win you games."
Regardless of whether ESPN's optimistic ranking is justified, Jazz fans certainly have reason to be excited about the future of the team. In fact, most of the teams in the Northwest have solid young cores. Let's take a look at some other links from the division:
- Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman gives us his two cents on the Thunder's 15th roster spot, saying that DeAndre Liggins has been the surprise of training camp and has the inside track on the final job. Marberry says Liggins' toughness has made him stand out.
- Blazers general manager Neil Olshey says that will not make a decision on whether he will the exercise options on Luke Babbitt, Nolan Smith and Elliot Williams until much closer to the October 31 deadline, tweets Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest.
- Scott Brooks says that whoever plays the best will secure the Thunder's 15th roster spot, writes Royce Young of DailyThunder.com. It sounds like Brooks is comfortable enough with his top 14 to take the "best available" player that is left over. Young handicaps the potential candidates, from most to least likely: Daniel Orton, DeAndre Liggins, Andy Rautins, Hollis Thompson and longshot Walker Russell.
- Janni Carlson of the Oklahoman opines that while signing James Harden will certainly help the Thunder now, it may hinder the team's long-term future. If the Thunder choose to sign Harden and pay the luxury tax, Carlson says, they may get burned in the same fashion as other small markets have in Minnesota, Cleveland and Sacramento.
- In a lengthy feature, Candace Buckner of the Columbian highlights the relationship between George Karl and Portland head coach Terry Stotts, and how that long friendship landed Coby Karl in training camp with the Blazers.