It's May right now and in the post NBA Draft lottery aftermath (the Utah Jazz dropped from #4 to #5) some people have e-mailed about NBA Free Agency. Furthermore, I've read a number of articles, fanposts, and comments that seem to hinge on impossibilities when talking about potential trades the team could do between now and the NBA Draft to move up. As a result, it's important to go over what the Utah Jazz have and currently do not have, in terms of assets.
Essentially, you can't trade a bird in the bush, only a bird in the hand. And I want to help educate people on what birds in the hand the Jazz currently have.
Current (2014-2015 NBA Season) Assets:
These players and picks are ours right now, and on the books for the upcoming NBA season. (Birds in hand) Not everything has a fixed value right now (future picks for example), and as the BRI for next year hasn't been reported, the values for the 2014 NBA Draft picks are estimations based upon the 2013 values. Furthermore, I fully well expect Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey to make at least one trade on draft night. But as it stands right now, these are the things we have that we could use in trades.
- Derrick Favors (C/PF) -- Favors will start the first of his four year contract that will pay him, on average, $12.25 million per season. The first year is a little front loaded so it's closer to $13 than $12, but that's a problem only for him, his accountant, and semi-permanent Kato Kaelin style house guest Sidney Lowe. He will, and should, make the most money on the team this year. He also has the most value as a young bigman who plays defense and can finish plays near the basket. Somehow he'll be going into his fifth year in the league, and I do think that he's under developed a bit.
- Enes Kanter (PF/C) -- Kanter will essentially be in a contract year, as it will be the fourth and final year of his rookie deal. Well, it doesn't have to be like that if his people and the Utah Jazz can reach an agreement on an extension by October 31st, 2014. But as we just saw last season with Hayward, it's obvious that some young guys may feel disrespected by the Jazz offer and want to test the market. On one hand I'd love for Kanter to be locked up by the Jazz, but on the other I can't shake the feeling that there's no way his people will avoid haggling on this situation. Kanter, the young professional athlete, would thrive in another city, NBA system, and PR culture. He knows it too. If an agreement cannot be reached expect David Locke to do a little dance every time Enes has a bad game next year. Kanter is younger than Favors, and does not currently have the huge price tag. I will argue that he has greater untapped potential as well. As a result, he may be the easier piece to move if you are into that type of thing.
- 2014 1st Round, Pick #5 -- This is our lotto pick this year. And yes, our lotto pick this year is going to make more money than Burks in his fourth year, or Burke in his second. This pick can be anything, and it's value is slightly lower now than before the lottery, but it's value will only decrease over time from this point forward (especially if we draft a player, and never play them, and they never get better). This is also the one asset that I believe most strongly in moving. Depending on what the Orlando Magic do on draft night our team needs to have a few contingency plans in place. If someone we like drops we draft them. If someone we do not like drops, then we need to have trades already made up for that player to go to another team. And if no one drops, and we get the pick of any of the remaining players in the world, we need to know what we want ahead of time. This is the hard work that DL and the rest of the front office is doing right now. The Kevin O'Connor thing to do would be not to trade and simply just pick the best available player. That's conservative thinking that DL has gone directly against in each of the draft picks the team had last year. In the KOC world we would have gone into last season with the #14, #21, and #46. Thankfully we live in the DL world, and we left last draft with the #9, #27, and #47. It was most likely, according to the probabilities, that the Jazz dropped from #4 to #5. Similarly, it's most likely, according to Dennis Lindsey's draft history, that this high value asset is going to be traded.
- Alec Burks (SG/PG) -- Burks is from the same Draft Lotto class as Kanter, and could also be playing in a RFA effective Contract Year. He's also not a bigman, and has been a bench player his entire career. It's going to be harder for him to expect to make a huge contract year production bonanza unless he gets the playing time and opportunities his bank account would want. He also seems to be more of a coolin' or chillin' type of guy than the firey Kanter. I think the Jazz get a deal done with him before next season starts. But as it stands right now he's the only lotto wing player that we currently have in hand to deal. He's also great at getting to the line, and does that at an NBA elite level. We have theories about what Favors and Kanter are dominant in. But we have evidence of one thing Burks is dominant at. That's a marketable skill if you are not keen on using it yourself.
- Trey Burke (PG) -- Burke will be in the second year of his rookie deal, and right now, he's the only point guard on contract for next season. That's either great flexibility, or a huge gap just like with Burke being the only wing player on contract. It would be silly to move him now. I don't think we got enough of the Burkes' Court last season. Burke and Burks are good assets that have value. But at this point I think they have more value to the Jazz than other teams.
- Jeremy Evans (PF) -- Evans will be playing in his third and final year of his current contract, and be in a contract year. He was in this situation a few years back when his rookie deal expired (second rounders have a shorter shelf life than first rounders do). As a guy in his fifth season looking for a sixth he's going to be a solid vet who hasn't played a lot of minutes. His athleticism has few peers, and his jumper is coming along nicely. His advanced stats have given him the nickname "the Anomaly" -- a name I approve of. (Good job Jazz fans!) I still also like "Elevator" but both work. And Evans' small contract and high yield production make him a great throw in piece for any trade the Jazz may elect to make. Losing him would hurt, especially if Hayward is still in the picture. Aside from a throw in piece to make contract values match he will not be asked for in trades. I feel like his value to the organization is very high, as he's one of the most visible players for being in the dunk contest twice, and doing the little things in the off-season in remote locations. It's probably higher for the organization than it is with the basketball people. Life is funny sometimes.
- 2014 First Round, Pick #23 -- This is one of the picks the Jazz got from the Golden State Warriors in the three team trade with them and the Denver Nuggets. It's still a pretty high value pick, and in a deep draft you could net yourself rotation player or better. I don't think it's a necessity to trade this pick, but DL is known for flipping picks for players he likes. At the end of the day it's going to work out fine for the Jazz, but this is another $1 million dollar asset to be used in a number of ways.
- Rudy Gobert (C) -- Gobert was precisely had through draft day movement -- the team moved back into the first round to get him from Denver. He is a work in progress, and has a long way to go before he can be a reliable performer at the NBA level on both sides of the court. However, I do believe that he does some things really well out there and as a result, should see the court more in the upcoming season. What we don't know is if he'll even be needed in the future. If the Jazz pick up another lottery big then Gobert may become highly redundant. You know, in the situation where a guy who can dunk without jumping ever becomes redundant in this league.
- 2014 Second Round, Pick #35 -- This pick is high enough in the second to a) snag a 1st round talent that slips for some reason, or b) be used to move back into the first round for some reason or another. It's a utility pick. If the Jazz KOC it they'll find someone good at #35. If the Jazz DL it, they can move it for something more useful. As a pick, I'm fine with it. The team now has great scouts, and they would find the right guy. As an asset to move, it could be combined with the #23 for a late teen pick in this draft, right? The Phoenix Suns or Chicago Bulls could be willing to part with a late teen pick for the #23 and #35 right? No?
- Future Picks -- The Jazz hold four future picks in addition to the ones they would normally get every year: 2016 2nd rounder (GSW); 2017 1st rounder (GSW); 2017 2nd rounder (GSW); 2018 2nd rounder (DEN). You don't know how good the Golden State Warriors or Denver Nuggets are going to be in three to four years from now. These picks could be valuable or worthless. Right now the uncertainty obscures just how valuable they are. In that uncertainty fools can be had. Utah waited for a decade on the New York Knicks unprotected first rounder -- some teams were reported to be willing to part with great talent for it. It eventually became Hayward, who may have played his last game with the franchise already. Let that be a warning to you GMs out there. Use your assets before they become worthless. (Or, you know, let guys like Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap walk for nothing, then use the cap space on Beans and RJ)