With word that Hayward will almost 100% be re-signed by the Jazz, that leaves very few questions about the roster. We have Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Dante Exum, Gordon Hayward (assuming the Jazz actually do plan on matching any offer), Rodney Hood, Jeremy Evans, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert, plus two guys on non-guaranteed contracts I expect to be brought back: Ian Clark and Diante Garrett. That's 10 guys already. It wouldn't be a stretch to think that either Malcom Thomas or Erik Murphy is brought back, and with summer league we may see the Jazz bring in a couple of unknowns.
So the roster stands at 12-13 players (most likely), and the Jazz should still have plenty of cap room. I can't help but think that it would be a great idea to take on a bad contract or two in order to pick up additional assets. I went through some of the worst contracts in the league, and I'll list them here and try to give some insight or possible available assets for each one.
First, the Rockets' Jeremy Lin and his expiring deal. Houston reportedly wants to make a serious run for either Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James, and in order for them to do that they probably need to shed more salary. Even with the Omer Asik trade, they are still only about $8 million under the projected cap. Shed Lin's salary and they'll have around $16 million under the cap to play with. As far as assets go, Houston doesn't have much that would appeal to us. They still have Dwight Howard and James Harden with good role players around them. As their roster stands now they're almost a lock for the postseason. If they can land a marquee free agent they'll be even better. A one-year rental of Chandler Parsons doesn't do us much good.
Trade (from other team's POV): realistic
Return on investment (ROI): low
Conclusion: Jazz say no
The 76ers are interesting right now. They're almost guaranteed to be bad for the next 2+ years. Jason Richardson's contract is pretty bad. But are the Sixers willing to give him up? I doubt it. Either of their next 2 draft picks would be a fantastic asset to have, since they'll likely be top 6 or better, but Philly's front office seems dead-set on being terrible on purpose.
Conclusion: Philly says no
The cursed Lakers are next. Kobe has a massive contract that kind of screws them over. They have no cap room and only 4 players under contract: Kobe, Nash, Robert Sacre, and Kendall Marshall (soon to be Julius Randle, as well). Steve Nash's contract is a pretty bad one, mostly because of age and health issues. The Lakers pick next year could be a great one if they fail to land the Carmelos and LeBrons of the NBA free agent market. They might be left with players like Luol Deng or Trevor Ariza as their #2 guys, and the bigs that weren't good enough to be pursued by teams with cap space. Lakers 2015 first-round pick and Nash for JLIII? Maybe rights to Tomic?
Trade: fairly likely
ROI: relatively high
Conclusion: both teams interested
Milwaukee Bucks. This team will likely still be pretty bad, even with the addition of Jabari Parker. Larry Sanders has off-the-court issues, the Greek Freak is raw and unpolished, and Brandon Knight isn't exactly a great option at point guard. Reportedly, the Bucks will have Jabari play the 4, so that gives them a rather crowded front court. Sanders, Ilyasova, and Pachulia are all under contract. OJ Mayo has a bloated contract. Any of those last 3 could be a good candidate for a salary dump from them. Does Milwaukee want to compete ASAP, or do they want to take it slow?
Trade: hard to tell
Conclusion: not sure, really depends on Milwaukee's short-term goals
The Sacramento Kings. Oh, what a mess of a franchise. Rudy Gay's contract is massive. They have what seems like 10 power forwards on their roster, none of which are very good. Carl Landry, Derrick Williams, and Jason Thompson are all pretty terrible contracts. The Kings just drafted Nik Stauskus, which leads me to believe that, in typical Kings fashion, they've given up on Ben McLemore after just one season. I've heard rumors that they'll try to make a trade with the Celtics that sends McLemore to Boston (along with other assets) for Rondo. I don't see that happening, unless Boston plans on starting over with Smart. I suppose it's possible. Either way, the Kings have 3 bad contracts at the power forward spot.
Trade: Kings say yes. They're the Kings
ROI: high; this team is a mess and that's not changing anytime soon
Conclusion: very doable; could get multiple future picks for taking on Gay + Landry/Williams/Thompson
The Chicago Bulls. Could their front office done MORE last season to piss off their coach? I doubt it. The Bulls just acquired Anthony Randolph. Does that make Boozer expendable? Shedding Boozer's $16.8 million would allow Chicago to pursue Carmelo or LeBron, although I doubt the Bulls land either one of them. Still, I think the Bulls want to unload Boozer's contract.
Trade: highly likely
ROI: depends on Rose's ankle
Conclusion: possibility of multiple future picks. definitely intriguing
The New Orleans Pelicans pay more than $35 million combined on Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, and Jrue Holiday. To me, that's not a winning backcourt. None of them can stay healthy, 2 of them are undersized, and none of them really play defense. Anthony Davis needs more touches, and with Asik being brought in I'm thinking their front office wants more defense. Evans, Gordon, and Holiday =/= defense. I think New Orleans unloads at least one of those three.
Trade: highly likely
ROI: could be future lottery picks; always valuable
Conclusion: not as appealing for the Jazz as other options
The Brooklyn Nets. This franchise is more of a disaster than Sacramento, and that's saying a lot. The Nets pay nearly $71 million to just FOUR PLAYERS. Joe Johnson ALONE will make over $23 million this season. But does the mad Russian want to cut back? he might be crazy enough to think that maybe this season, his roster will work.
Trade: mad Russian too unpredictable
ROI: Brooklyn already got taken to the cleaners by Boston. No assets left
Conclusion: stay far, far away. Let them burn.
The Knicks are in pretty bad shape, too. I get a sort of sick pleasure in watching the teams from 3 of the biggest, most self-centered markets crash and burn. Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani are both bad contracts and if the Knicks hadn't already given away all their draft picks (why scout thoroughly and draft well when you can just BUY talent?), we could take them to the cleaners for taking on Stoudemire's albatross contract.
Trade: Knicks want it bad, DL laughs in their faces
ROI: almost non-existent, Knicks have few assets left
Conclusion: not until hell freezes over
The Celtics are interesting. I assume they're trying to continue with the rebuild, rather than selling the farm for a 2- or 3-year window. Based on what I know of Danny Ainge, he likes his young assets and wants to take his time. A Rondo trade is a possibility if Ainge feels like he can get good value in a trade, now that Boston has Smart (Smaht). Gerald Wallace is a bad contract, but Boston took his contract in order to get future picks. Are they willing to give one of those picks away in order to make more room for younger players in Boston?
ROI: hard to tell
Conclusion: better options for Utah
Based on this quick analysis, it looks like the best options are the Lakers (Nash), Bucks (Ilyasova/Mayo), Kings (Gay/Thompson/Landry/Williams), and the Bulls (Boozer).
Which of these contracts + assets would you prefer the Jazz to take?