So, that whole "Jazz will definitely move Al or Paul, if not both" hype sure was fun. The fanbase is (understandably) in a small uproar right now, with many fans happy we didn't make a move, thus keeping their favorite player. More astute fans (like those on this site) are fairly angry or upset that we're going into Friday with the same roster we had going into Thursday. I can see both sides of the argument, and thought I'd see if we did the right thing or if we missed our one big opportunity.
One problem surrounding trades is common regarding players, a business will always overvalue its own assets. It's the reason so many names get tossed around on deadline days like today yet so few actually move. The Hawks want more for Josh Smith than other teams are willing to offer. Perhaps the same thing happened with us - someone wanted Paul or Al, but we felt the valuations from both sides were too far apart. Not surprising. Maybe the issue isn't overvaluing, but perhaps offering teams undervalue the player they're trying to get, and don't offer enough. Same thing really, just the inverse. I would argue it's some of both. We, as Jazz fans, are amazing at this. We love (almost) any player in a Jazz uniform. We love Burks, even though he is far from proven. We love Hayward, and we're likely optimistic looking forward at his future role. Kanter, as much as I love him, is very raw, and could easily turn into a bust rather than the rebounding machine I think he'll be. We all do it. We all love Paul because he wasn't Carlos Boozer, so much so that we actually think he's better than he is. We were upset a few weeks ago because Aldridge made the All-Star team instead of him, even though he realistically is a better player. He is. An argument could definitely be made that he shouldn't have made the team over Paul because of team records, but whatever. We overvalue him, because he's a great guy, overproduced for being a #47 pick, and because he did awesome filling in for the rarely-healthy Boozer. I get it, I understand it, I even sympathize, but it's some of the reason he's still on the team - we like him better than other teams.
Draft picks are also overvalued. I wrote a fanpost on here a little while ago detailing how likely it was for lottery picks to become star players (http://www.slcdunk.com/2013/1/30/3932880/the-good-news-and-bad-news-about-our-young-team). It's not great. Lotto picks are busts a lot, and at best it's generally a gamble. The #1 pick is only a 60% chance of getting an All-Star. A lotto pick in general is only about 25%. Teams make trades all the time to stock up on picks (the Jazz included, that's why we have so many young guys). Amazingly though, teams trade solid players all the time for picks, which are at best a gamble. In a way, it balances out, teams unwilling to part with players for an overvalued player will offer overvalued draft picks. Nobody wins.
Really, the best way to win a trade is to get a mix of players and draft picks (picks are always good pieces in trades, for the reasons I just explained). A proven player, even if he's just a role player, is good for the team. This is why, even though Millsap is a star in our minds, trading him for a mid-level point guard would have been smart. Think about it this way, Millsap is maybe worth a lottery pick (we'll say he is for convenience). A lottery pick has about a 25% chance of becoming a star, but also has a good chance of being a bust. For every Kyrie Irving there's also a Raymond Felton. If on the other hand we trade for someone like Calderon or Bledsoe, we get a proven mid-level talent. No gambling. Honestly, the expected value is probably the same. Say Calderon is considered the middle, you've got a 25% of having a lotto pick be significantly better, 25% of being significantly worse, and probably 50% within the margin of error. A trade for a player is a hedge. Yeah, you won't get a star, but you probably weren't going to anyway, and this way you eliminate most of the risk.
In this respect, the Jazz may have done the right thing. Maybe there weren't any good offers - a very real possibility. Maybe all the offers were heavy in draft picks, something we really can't afford. Right now we have four young guys from the lottery, all of whom we're going to need to pay soon. Chances are we can't keep all four. Same reason OKC got rid of Harden - money. I'd guess either Kanter or Burks is gone a year form now. Anyway, add another high lottery pick to that and all the sudden we can't afford anything. We need players, with mid-level salaries and proven track records. This wasn't available (probably), so we passed. I'm not happy with it, but it is what it is.
We likely should've accepted a trade, even if we felt it was below market value, just to get something, some kind of salvage value for our assets. Even if we stock up on draft picks, we can move those later for something above the value of picks on draft night or something like that. We had options. Something would've been better than nothing. My wish is that Paul could come off the bench for us next year, but that seems unlikely. As much as I like Al, I don't think he's a piece in making us a contender. Realistically we probably lose them both, and that's okay. They're both good, but they both have flaws.
So, where do we go from here. Is this what KOC planned for? I dunno. We will have a ton of cap space to make a run at someone (Chris Paul? Dwight Howard? LOL JK), but even that seems like along shot. We don't have the clout to attract a big name through free agency. Maybe, just maybe, we use this money to get a good PG, a solid backup frontcourt, and a couple role players, and allow us to start Kanter and Favors. Maybe we suck, but they get minutes. Maybe we get a really high draft pick and use it, or one of our many players for trade leverage then. I'm not sure, but it's quite possible we're shaping up to start the C4 guys next year. Maybe Evans actually gets playing time. Maybe we bring back Fesenko. Maybe we grab a PG in the late first round and let him try his hand starting. We have options, and while getting something for a return on losing Al and Paul would've been nice, it might not have been worth it. Next season is shaping up to be everything Jazz fans wanted. Remember, patience is a virtue. And while we may have turned this season into a lame duck, we might actually get to play the young guys next year. Like a lot. Or maybe we'll resign Al and Paul and find a way to sign Derek Fisher. We'll see, but I'm heading forward with cautious optimism.