For the first few months of his abbreviated stay with the Utah Jazz, Steve Novak’s lone highlight appeared to be a feathery soft foul he committed on a Miami Heat player in a game everyone will remember for as long as they live.
Now his final Jazz highlight will consist of him being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder on the NBA Trade Deadline, on Thurs. Feb. 19. Forget about the last two games during which he scored 12 points and 12 points respectively, on 4-of-6 and 4-of-5 shooting.
Forget that it was the first time, the only time, all season that Novak even got the green light to shoot that many threes–perhaps knowing he was going somewhere better, somewhere where the new team would be a bonafide contender. That Jazz head coach Quin Snyder sacrificed Novak for as long as he had was probably through some sort of mutual agreement, anyway.
Whatever the reasoning was for Novak’s two-game tryout for prospective NBA teams, it worked. The Thunder snapped him up just as soon as the Detroit Pistons withdrew their interest in the Marquette product.
And so just as soon as Novak knocked down eight of the 11 threes he attempted and shot an unconscionable 73 percent from behind the arc, he was gone. Novak was a casualty of a rebuilding team needing assets to build its portfolio for the future–because the present product was simply too much, too soon for young Utah.
Quite simply, people in Jazz Nation don’t really want to think like that. Initially, they didn’t look at a player who committed a foul like that against Miami as somebody who deserved to live–even if they hardly understood why the guy was here.
It’s entirely possible that Jazz head coach Quin Snyder knew–even if he didn’t admit it publicly. Or, maybe he knew; that Novak was simply a pawn in a cruel game fledgling NBA teams must play in order to survive.
In Jazz fans minds, anything was possible, because that foul–THAT foul–was beyond reprehensible. It was downright treachery the way he purposely leaned into that Heat player, they might have thought, knowing he didn’t mean to cause the opponent any harm.
In a matter of speaking, Novak’s foul was so nice on the day in question that it was downright despicable. How can you not say otherwise? The NBA veteran sharpshooter logged more DNP’s this season in a Jazz uniform than did any other player on the team.
If you think about what Novak did in his last two games in Utah though, scoring twice as many points as he had averaged throughout his career, you will always wonder if the Jazz gave up on this guy too soon.