I preface this post by stating the obvious - I have no inside information and no knowledge of what goes on in the Jazz
front office. For all I know, they made a serious play to be involved in the Howard/Bynum trade talk. That said, it appears the Jazz blew a major opportunity to land a star player and I'm not talking about Howard.
Sure, it would have been great to land Howard. But he likely would have been a one year rental and I don't hold out any hope that he would have re-signed in Utah. However, Andrew Bynum
is a different story. By all acounts, he seems to be motivated by dollars more than anything else. Had the Jazz been able to acquire Bynum in a three-way deal with Orlando and the Lakers
, I feel there is a strong possibility he would have re-signed in Utah. It certainly would have been a gamble, but the Jazz would have had his bird rights and been able to offer him an extra year plus larger annual raises than any other team. That matters to Bynum. He also would be in a winning situation surrounded by great young players with very bright future. Those two factors give me enough confidence that the Jazz could have resigned Bynum that I would have pulled the trigger on a deal for him without hesitation.
Orlando's stated desire for a return package for Howard was a package of young players, draft picks and salary cap relief. In the end, Orlando got three terrible first round picks (all lottery protected and likely to be late first rounders or could possibly turn into second round picks), some marginal young players and marginal cap relief. The Jazz could have blown this offer away without trading Favors, Hayward or even Burks. A package of Kanter, the GSW pick, Al Jefferson
and possibly another first rounder from the Jazz (likely lottery protected) is a far better package that what Orlando ultimately received. Kanter is a much better prospect than any player Orlando received for Howard, the GSW pick is probably as valuable as all three picks Orlando received, if not more valuable because it will likely be in the late lottery this season. Jefferson gives them a solid replacement for Howard while also some salary cap flexibility because his contract is expiring. And if they got another pick from the Jazz it would simply be icing on the cake.
Yes, that's a lot to give up for a potential one-year rental of Bynum. But it's less than what the Nets
gave the Jazz for Williams (Jazz keep the key piece to that trade, Favors) and it's simply a risk the Jazz have to take. As has been documented, Utah has a hard time landing stars in free agency. It's best chance of landing one is via trade. And players of Bynum's caliber don't become available via trade very often, so when they do, Jazz need to pounce, particularly in this scenario where the Jazz clearly have the assets to get a deal done.
If the ultimate goal really is to win a championship, then the Jazz need to be willing to take risks on players like Bynum. As stated at the outset of this post, I have no inside information and for all I know, the Jazz were aggressive. But from an outsider's perspective, it seems the Jazz easily could have topped what Orlando received for Howard and come away with Bynum, while maintaining their primary core, potentially leaving them with a core of Bynum, Favors, Hayward and Burks. While Kanter may have some upside, his ceiling is not close to what Bynum is right now so this trade would put the Jazz in a much better position for a run at a title in 3-4 years. It's not without risk, but for the Jazz, they need to take a risk like this if they ever hope to win a title. But for whatever reason, the Jazz front office seems a little to set on its reliance on player development and not willing enough to a calculated risk that could greatly enhnace its title hopes if it worked out. Here's to hoping the Jazz front office gets aggressive and finds a way to take advantage of its assets soon.
All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.