NBA Trade Season: The Utah Jazz look to be major listeners this year

Ronald Martinez

First of all, let's get something out of the way. The Utah Jazz are a conservative small market NBA team that is in an undesirable location. They're never going to get a star via unrestricted free agency. This leaves getting a star through either the draft, or through a trade. In previous seasons, back when the Jazz were a stable franchise and a contender, they still couldn't seal the deal in a few trades for Derrick Harper or Rony Seikaly. So, trades in Jazz land are still not the sure thing that other teams enjoy. There have been three great trades in Jazz history: the first was trading Jeff Malone for Jeff Hornacek; the second was trading the Number 6 pick and garbage for the Number 3 pick that became Deron Williams; and somehow, the third was trading Deron Williams away for Devin Harris (who later became Marvin Williams), Derrick Favors, a pick (later Enes Kanter), and Golden State's 1st rounder. (For the full breakdown of that one visit this link)

Beyond that, trades haven't been that great in Jazzland. And trades have not really happened frequently. We don't switch things up just to switch things up; the Jazz doctrine is rather to let contracts and trade value expire. It's easier to do nothing than do something, after all. And if you look at the rosters put together during the Stockton and Malone years it's very hard to argue against the notion that the front office was doing a lot of nothing back then.

The hope is that new hire, Dennis Lindsey nee-San Antonio Spurs, will shake things up as our General Manager. With that said, let's look at the Jazz team.

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The 2012-2013 Utah Jazz Contracts at a glance:

Players with two or more remain years under contract:

  • Nobody

Players still under rookie deals:

  • Derrick Favors (2010 NBA Draft, Pick #3)
  • Gordon Hayward (2010 NBA Draft, Pick #9)
  • Enes Kanter (2011 NBA Draft, Pick #3)
  • Alec Burks (2011 NBA Draft, Pick #12)
  • Kevin Murphy (non-guaranteed) (2012 NBA Draft, Pick #47)

Players with one year remaining:

  • Marvin Williams (1 year, $7,500,000 -- Early termination option)

Players playing in the last year of their contract:

Why did I start this off by looking at the remaining contract situation? Well, it's obvious -- the Jazz are super flexible. Teams always look to add guys with expiring contracts and the Jazz have a near monopoly on that. Furthermore, the Jazz have expiring deals in all sizes, from under one million to the mid-millions, all the way to the high to obscene levels. In order to make a trade work, sometimes you need to add in some filler to make the numbers match. The Jazz are better capable of doing that then any other team in the league right now.

So if there's a trade on the horizon that works for us, we can make it work financially under the NBA Salary Cap. That said, just because we have the parts on paper to make almost any trade work -- we also need the talent.

When we had All-NBA, All-Star, and Olympian Deron Williams we had the talent to make trades. Very few teams are going to trip over themselves trying to make a trade where the principal pieces are Marvin Williams or Randy Foye. The main problem with this year's jazz is that we don't have that outstanding talent anymore.

If the team is going to progress they will have to get one. Otherwise the team will languish in mediocrity.

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This season the Jazz are Sellers, or well, Listeners:

The Utah Jazz are going to be a seller this trade season. People want Paul Millsap. Other teams. Other media markets. Other fan bases. Millsap is one of my favorite players of all time, and he's the epitome of a self-made player. He's the opposite of Derrick Coleman, who had the size, talent, and ability -- but none of the heart. Millsap is the major trade piece to be won this season by another team as he's a free agent and turned down the max extension the Jazz could possibly have offered. As a result, the writing is almost on the wall for him here. That sucks, because I'd rather he finish his career as a Jazzman.

No one is interested in any of our veteran guards (except our head coach Tyrone Corbin), so we don't need to worry about anyone making calls for them.

The other big piece would be Al Jefferson -- he's a premier back to the basket scorer, capable rebounder, but absolute trainwreck on non-post up defense. To suggest otherwise is to only expose your chronic inability to disagree with the company line on this. Jefferson would be a fantastic 2nd option on a contender; though, some teams may be willing to just snatch him up in free agency rather than trade for him. He's got the size that Millsap does not have, but he's less versatile and has a significant weakness on the court (defense). Millsap plays both ways.

Lastly, up for market would be one of our four lottery picks -- most likely Alec Burks. It's hard for me to part with any of these youngsters because only one of them has even sniffed real playing time yet. Giving up on potential right now for someone who pays off easy is dumping the sophomore girl in highschool for the sure thing senior (Miranda 'Deep ball' Foye) -- only for the soph to blossom into the girl everyone wants the very next year. Alexis Brooks is just that girl.

I believe the Jazz will not actively shop their players, but field calls for everyone. They'll be great listeners this trade season; it's easier to just passively listen and try to tag onto bigger trades made by the big-boy franchises in the league. (Like the largest trade in NBA History that had some HOF players moving around -- had the Jazz trading Raul Lopez away only to receive Greg Ostertag back after his year in Sacramento)

If you want one of our guys, they're available -- but only if you give us something good back. We're clearly not rebuilding and not in rebuilding mode. We're *real* contenders too. So don't try to give us crap back. Now, to change the subject, we'll gladly accept any offer that returns Josh Howard to the Jazz.

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Three Crazy Trade Ideas:

Trade_1

The Jazz give up flexibility for a real defender. Al Jefferson is the best person in the world, but I think this team doesn't go anywhere without defense. While Jefferson was the de-facto mentor for Enes Kanter 's offensive game, I think Anderson Varejao really helps him defensively by teaching him how to be a high motor big who dominates the glass. Anderson also thrives on contact, which is what we'd want our young bigs learning to deal with.

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Trade_3

No, that one wasn't crazy enough. Let's up the crazy by trading Paul Millsap to the Orlando Magic for J.J. Redick. (Where's your Foye now?) This totally screws up both teams because now we have even MORE three point shooters; while the Magic have a smaller, better Glen Davis replacement. It's pretty clear that I have no clue what I'm doing. Redick is another expiring contract, and so is Sap. So if both teams were under the idea that they were already going to lose both of these guys -- then maybe a swap is the easy thing to do? Redick has learned to be a solid defender with playoff experience. He's still a killer jump shooter, and Masha Kirilenko would start selling "Misses Redick" t-shirts at her medium end boutique store "Fleur de lis". Millsap would dominate playing in the Eastern Conference against what passes for an inside over there. I don't know. This trade hurts both teams, but helps both players.

What's more important -- the player or the team?

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Trade_2

By itself this trade does not work out, but I'd give the Spurs one of our second round picks and the remaining of Mehmet Okur's trade exemption. (This may not work out at all by the books, but hey, Patrick Mills is a huge upgrade for us, and Raja Bell on the Spurs is just the type of troll move Gregg Popovich would do to the ex- Phoenix Suns player) This is really the San Antonio Spurs throwing a bone to Dennis Lindsey ; though, I'm sure Scott Layden would require more. I might just be happy with keeping Raja this year than trading him to some other team. He's useless and has no value right now. Out of all my trades, this is the most unreasonable one. The main purpose of this is to upgrade our PG spot by adding a PG with three point range; who is a system guy. Getting rid of Raja is unnecessary because he's already 'gone' for all intents and purposes. I would have offered Alec Burks here but the Spurs have no need for him with Kawhi Leonard already on their team.

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At the end of the day, I'm a horrible GM; and I don't think the Jazz make any trades. They'll listen a lot though. But you don't mess with success, and as we're contenders right now you don't want to derail this freight train on it's way into championship station.

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