It's trade time again in the NBA world, which no surprise, happens around Christmas time -- when fans of teams dream of sugar plum faries and high efficiency bench players. I'm not so much of a trade guy, so I asked my amazing team for help on this post, and Clark and Peter and company all helped me out. This post wouldn't exist, if not for them. And this SB Nation theme day wouldn't exist without Clippers Steve. So thanks guys!
The Utah Jazz, ever the free agency juggernaut, hasn't really needed to make mid-season trades much. Or maybe they did need to make them, but were just hesitant to pull the trigger. Last season we were told players on expiring contracts were getting big playing time in order to better showcase their talents -- and then trade them around the deadline. What actually happened is that these guys got big minutes all season long, none were traded at the deadline, and most of them walked in the off-season (Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Mo Williams, DeMarre Carroll, only Randy Foye was in a sign-and-trade in the off-season). That's not to say the Jazz front office doesn't like to make midseason trades, it's just par for the course. In the history of the Jazz over the last 25 seasons they have made only 10 individual trades during the season. I don't know what the frequency is for other teams, but here's the complete list:
|4||1993||1994||Jeff Malone, DP (B.J. Tyler)||Jeff Hornacek, Sean Green, DP (Junior Burrough)|
|5||1994||1995||Jay Humphries, DP (Junior Burrough)||Blue Edwards|
|9||1998||1999||DP (Chris Porter)||Todd Fuller|
|14||2003||2004||DeShawn Stevenson, DP (Stanko Barac)||Gordan Giricek|
|15||2003||2004||Keon Clark, Ben Handlogten||Tom Gugliotta, DP (Kirk Snyder), DP (Alex Acker), DP (Gordon Hayward)|
|19||2007||2008||Gordan Giricek, DP (Trevor Booker)||Kyle Korver|
|20||2008||2009||Matt Harpring, Eric Maynor||Peter Fehse|
|21||2009||2010||Ronnie Brewer||DP (Donatas Motiejunas)|
|22||2010||2011||Deron Williams||Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, DP (Enes Kanter), DP (Gorgui Dieng)|
* N.B. Max Chang (@Chang_Max) is correct, the Jazz also made a mid-season trade on Dec 22, 2011 to send Mehmet Okur away to the New Jersey Nets for a 2015 2nd round draft pick, and a trade exception. I do believe the trade exception was used to help facilitate the Lamar Odom to Dallas Mavericks trade. I'm leaving this as is to point out my mistakes.
** N.B. Dec 22 was still preseason for the Jazz that year. They played their first game on Dec 27th, 2011 -- so technically the Memo trade was STILL a pre-season trade, and not a mid-season trade. So I was technically correct, which is the best kind of correct.
Of course the Jazz do make a lot of off-season trades, but stability within the season is always appreciated in Salt Lake. (So don't hold your breath for Ty Corbin getting canned, Jazz fans.)
That being said, stability aside, does that make the 2013-2014 Utah Jazz a buyer or a seller?
The current General Manager for the Jazz is former San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets front office man Dennis Lindsey. He's a smart guy who is a big picture GM. And this season the Jazz are obviously not going for the NBA Title. In fact, I think you can argue that the Jazz are instead trying to maximize their draft position. That only makes sense when the team does let last seasons' starting lineup leave (not entirely true, Marvin is still here), and instead make trades for Richard Jefferson (and start him!), Andris Biedrins, and Brandon Rush. Anyway, I think our GM will listen to anyone who can offer him flexibility going into this year's loaded 2014 NBA Draft. That makes us both buyers and sellers. Specifically, we want to buy draft picks, and sell useful veterans.
The Jazz face an interesting season in terms of trading and what exactly they are looking for. Jazz fans have been very keen on this reality, realizing that the Jazz are probably not looking to trade for players that will help their immediate future, but may even seek to trade away helpful players like Marvin Williams or Richard Jefferson, or Brandon Rush in order to accumulate future assets in the form of picks and young players with cheap contracts.
The premise of almost any hypothetical trade for the Jazz should assume that the Jazz are holding onto Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, although it goes without saying that if the Jazz were able to acquire something obviously "better" than any of those players, the Jazz would not hesitate in trading them as well.
On top of all this, trading season will be interesting this year, as almost every team will seek to keep their 2014 first round pick in this talented draft. Obviously some teams, like the Suns, have made their 2014 first rounders available, but it is difficult to know, and I would guess not, if the Jazz have talent worthy of high picks for this upcoming year.
As always, trade season always takes two to tango and so the Jazz also have to locate teams that are looking for what the Jazz are offering AND that have the assets that the Jazz are looking for in return. If I had to list teams I think the Jazz could partner with in a trade from most likely down, my list would look like this:
The Jazz as buyers:
The Jazz aren't specifically looking to upgrade their roster for this season, so the team is not likely to make a trade to bring in current talent. After all, this year is about development and discovery of Burke, Burks, Hayward, Kanter, Favors, and Gobert. Bringing in a starter quality veteran is counter productive. The Jazz do wish to buy more 2014 draft picks, be them protected first rounders, unprotected first rounders, and second rounders. Dennis Lindsey has shown the ability and willingness to combine assets in draft day deals in order to move up for the player that he wants. The Jazz did this three times last draft; moving up to get Trey Burke (at the expense of Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng), moving up to get Rudy Gobert (at the expense of Erick Green and cash); and moving back into the draft to get Raul Neto (for a future second round pick).
Lindsey wants picks. Period. And he has vets on expiring deals (and cap space, so I could see the Jazz trading a vet + money for a pick) to move to teams who want to improve their bench depth. If we go beyond what we want, the Jazz do still kind of need more depth at back up point guard. Jamaal Tinsley was signed and then cut early this season. John Lucas III has been a train wreck. Diante Garrett has looked worse every week after his NB-DL call up. Maybe the Jazz org are happy with this current situation and look to bring Neto over next year and fill that spot. If the team wants to not fix this problem of PG depth that's okay, because it means more losses. And like I said earlier, the team is trying to capitalize on their failures this year for ping pong balls this summer.
The Jazz should target teams with first round picks (duh), but not necessarily lotto picks. If Utah combines their lotto pick, plus the Golden State 1st rounder they already own (which may or may not be a lotto pick in the tough Western Conference), plus any other 1st rounders they may have -- they will no doubt be capable of trading up for at the worst, the #2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
If Utah is targeting a type of player to sure up their PG spot they'd want a legit veteran at PG who isn't better than Trey, but has more actual playing experience than Lucas and Garrett. He should be able to make the spot up three pointer, run a team, and play a bit of defense. I don't think such a complete PG exists, or if he did, he wouldn't want to come off the bench. This guy is apparently Chauncey Billups, but there's only one of him.
The Jazz as sellers:
The only real carrot the Jazz have that they are willing to give up on are the mercenaries. Er, I mean the vets who are good enough to fill out a contender's bench rotation -- with little risk as they are all in contract years and their deals run out at the end of this season. These guys are Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Brandon Rush, and Andris Biedrins. Though, I don't think many teams would want Beans. I do know that no team wants Lucas. So it's really these three wing capable players who can defend a little and hit the three.
I would keep Marvin if at all possible, but he seems to have the most utility. He's a small forward who can play as a stretch big at the four spot. Moving one of Marvin or Richard means more time on the court for a 1, 2, 3 lineup of Burke, Burks, and Hayward. Because of this movement of Hayward from the 2 to the 3, it means less of a wing logjam. It also, in the case of moving only one of Marvin or Richard, means more playing time for the remaining vet at the 3 spot -- and thus frees up 10-15 mpg at the four spot for one of the Jazz qualifying bigs there. Right now because Tyrone Corbin is adamant on starting a 2, 3, 4 group of Hayward, Jefferson, and Williams it means less minutes for Alec Burks at the wing, and less minutes for Enes Kanter, and Rudy Gobert at the 4 and the 5.
All three of those younger players should be the focus this season, and not the three SG/SFs named Jefferson, Williams, or Rush (who's minutes are going up). The clear surplus is at veteran small forwards who can hit threes. If you want one, or more, please have a draft pick ready. I am assuming that the Jazz can also send some cash over to mitigate some of the costs as we're under the cap.
Specific Trade Ideas:
I'm going back to people smarter than I to figure these out.
Trade 1: Brandon Rush (UTA) for Joel Anthony (MIA) and Philadelphia's protected 2013 1st round pick
Why the Jazz do it: This first round pick is arguably the best pick available to the Jazz without giving up one of their best 6 players. It is protected in 2014 and 2015, so that if Philadelphia misses the playoffs the next two seasons, this pick would turn into 2 second round picks (2015 & 2016). Two second rounders would still be valuable if Brandon Rush isn't in the long term plans for the Jazz, although the Jazz would probably be stuck with Anthony's $3.8 million next season. Also, there is a chance that Philadelphia could be a playoff team next season with a high draft pick and Nerlens Noel and the weak Eastern Conference.
Why the Heat do it: If Brandon Rush gets back even near his pre injury self, he would be a perfect complement to the Miami Heat team both offensively and defensively. The Heat love to spread out the floor offensively and Rush is one of the best 3 point shooters in the NBA over the last few seasons. Defensively, Rush could give some rest to both Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. The Heat would be thrilled to pick up Rush for Anthony, if they didn't think they would miss the pick.
Trade 2: Brandon Rush (UTA) for Dante Cunningham (MIN), Rony Turiaf (MIN), and 2 second round picks (2014, 2015)
Why the Jazz do it: Like the previous trade, the Jazz may not be able to cash in on another first round pick for 2014, but two second round picks can be very valuable, especially with good scouting.
Why the Timberwolves do it: The Wolves would like to make the playoffs and they are going to need all the help they can get in the difficult Western Conference. If Rush proves he's healthy, he would add three point shooting to an already talented offense. But Rush would also be one of Minny's best defenders, as he is arguably a more complete two way player than either Corey Brewer or Luc Richard Mbah Moute.
Trade 3: The rights to Ante Tomic (UTA) for Byron Mullens (LAC), Willie Green (LAC), and a 2014 first round pick
Why the Jazz do it: for the pick of course. And the fact that Tomic will never play for the Jazz. We already have a European center prospect who is much cheaper.
Why the Clippers do it: the Clippers are just about $2 million over the luxury tax line and if they could get under it with a trade that doesn't make them much worse, that's a good deal for them. A pick is a hefty price for doing so, though.
Yes, these three trades help the Jazz get what they most want, picks. Because I don't want to be "that guy", I'm going to suggest one trade that involves players or something.
Trade 4: John Lucas III (UTA) and cold hard cash for Ramon Sessons (CHA), and 2014 second round pick
Why the Jazz do it: Ramon is making more money than Lucas, but he's a much better player than either Lucas or Garrett. He's vet enough to start for Ty, which is a worry, but he's good enough to actually help this team. Will we win more? Yes. But will he also expedite the learning for some of our players? Also a yes. Getting a 2nd round pick also helps because the Jazz know how to package picks.
Why the Bobcats do it: The Bobcats have two 2014 first rounders (potentially) this year from the Portland Trail Blazers and Detroit Pistons. They could be giving their own 2014 pick to the Chicago Bulls. I think Bobcats balk at moving one of them right now. They wouldn't mind shedding some salary, and their point guard spot seems set. Ramon is playing 21.2 mpg for them right now, but I don't know if they like that he's making $5,000,000 this year. Getting Lucas also helps because he's just the type or person Michael Jordan would love to pick on. So there's that.
I know my deal sucks, and I'm okay with that. That's why I needed help on this post.
Thanks again to SB Nation for this cool idea, and thanks to Clark and Peter for their input! Ultimately, though, I think that this season the one thing the Jazz really want is the one thing every team wants. So it's a flooded market, and dangling contract year small forwards on the downside of their careers will get you limited returns. And the Jazz don't usually make mid-season trades anyway. So . . .I am willing to be surprised. Dennis? Surprise me.