The Downbeat #1085 - The "Here are the keys, be back by 11" Edition

USA TODAY Sports

Okay, so just like last year the Utah Jazz made huge changes early on in free agency. Last year we added Mo Williams, Randy Foye, and Marvin Williams in a series of signings and trades. Those three guys ended up starting a lot of games.This year we've quickly lost Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and DeMarre Carroll. It's just the way the world works. The one thing which I'm worried about is continuity . . . and development. If you are throwing out these 2k minutes seasons to all these guys who leave (two of the three guys we just lost were in that club), then you are also throwing away minutes period. Those 2k minutes you invested in a guy who is gone is lost, instead of that you could have sat that dude on the bench (Tyrone Corbin is best communicator, there would be no problems) and played the guys who are going to stay instead.

All in all, though, the Jazz look to lose more than just Jefferson, Millsap, and Carroll. We just traded away Kevin Murphy, who ended up playing 52 mins (which is still more than Morris Almond did in his rookie year). We're probably also not going to bring back Raja Bell (who was on the team last year), or Travis Leslie (whom I kinda was pulling for).

And then, of course, there's still the issue of Mo Williams and Randy Foye. The Mo/Randy/Marvin/Paul/Al starting lineup was a big deal for our team last year. The team went 5-4 when they started last year. And everyone in that lineup except Paul was still finding their place in Utah still.

But now we look at a team that may have only one of them going forward, Marvin. And as a result, continuity continues to not be a thing. Especially so if the final fate of our four guards (Mo report should go up today, Randy report, Jamaal report, Earl report) means we move past them.

All Hail Jerel McNeal!

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While we are missing some key guys, so far this off-season we've added:

Taking Raulzinho out of the equation, that's still adding five guys to our team. Some are cheaper than others, but the expensive contracts all come off the books after this year. Trey looks to be the #1 PG moving forward, and will get to wear #3. Biedrins has played 500+ games and 11,000+ minutes in the NBA as a largely immobile bigman who gets offensive rebounds and blocked shots. He's the only one really capable of teaching Rudy Gobert some stuff that a much shorter Karl Malone cannot. (Can we bring Greg Ostertag back?) Richard Jefferson has prototypical size, and a career average of 15.0 ppg over 12 NBA seasons. He is capable of hitting the three still, while he's no longer the slasher that he used to be (7 years in a row of 5+ FTA/Game -- twice at over 8), he still could have some value. After all, played in 56 games last season and didn't murder anyone in them. He's not someone who breaks the law on the court. So there's that.

The jewel in the crown of what players we got back from Golden State is Brandon Rush. Rush played only 2 games last season due to an early injury that kept him out. I am still trying to use my network to get more info on him, but as far as I know, he's still rehabbing right now.

He shoots a high percentage from downtown, but doesn't shoot that frequently from there. Some people see his addition as a zero-sum game with Randy Foye and any potential return. Maybe this is the case; however they are different players. (Monday I'll drop that post) For his career, though, Brandon is above .400 from downtown. How much so? Well, Bradon's career 41.3 3pt% is higher than Randy Foye's near career high from last year, which was 41.0 3pt%.

But Foye has been shooting 5 threes a game over the last two seasons. Rush? The most he's shot EVER was 3.7 back when he was with the Indiana Pacers.

Doesn't look like much, but I forgot to add that we also got:

  • 2014 1st round pick (Golden State)
  • 2017 1st round pick (Golden State)
  • Poorly defined 2nd round picks (Golden State) x3

If could be argued that those 5 draft picks will help our team more in the next 5 seasons than Paul Millsap would have in the next 5 seasons. So sentimentality aside, we're making the right moves.

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And these moves are making ripples across the NBA. I don't understand organized crime, and their gaming predictions wing -- but Las Vegas has been going Utah Jazz crazy of late. First of all, most importantly, the Jazz have a 150/1 chance to win the NBA title this year. The other teams "at our level" are the Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, and Sacramento Kings. Yikes.

1 Miami Heat 2 / 1 11 New York Knicks 25 / 1 21 Toronto Raptors 100 / 1
2 Oklahoma City Thunder 6 / 1 12 Dallas Mavericks 40 / 1 22 Washington Wizards 100 / 1
3 Chicago Bulls 10 / 1 13 Denver Nuggets 40 / 1 23 Detroit Pistons 150 / 1
4 Houston Rockets 10 / 1 14 Los Angeles Lakers 40 / 1 24 Milwaukee Bucks 150 / 1
5 Los Angeles Clippers 10 / 1 15 Atlanta Hawks 75 / 1 25 Sacramento Kings 150 / 1
6 San Antonio Spurs 11 / 1 16 Boston Celtics 75 / 1 26 Utah Jazz 150 / 1
7 Brooklyn Nets 14 / 1 17 Cleveland Cavaliers 100 / 1 27 Charlotte Bobcats 200 / 1
8 Indiana Pacers 15 / 1 18 Minnesota Timberwolves 100 / 1 28 Philadelphia 76ers 200 / 1
9 Golden State Warriors 16 / 1 19 New Orleans Pelicans 100 / 1 29 Orlando Magic 300 / 1
10 Memphis Grizzlies 25 / 1 20 Portland Trailblazers 100 / 1 30 Phoenix Suns 300 / 1

But I think most Jazz fans are not expecting us to win the title next year. It's the "put your money where your month is" year where we've been clamoring for a more focused developmental year, with no regard for wins. I'm ready for it, and I hope we get it. Why? Why am I so crazy for this? Because this is ALSO what Las Vegas is predicting:

Rookie Team Odds
Trey Burke UTA 4 / 1
Victor Oladipo ORL 11 / 2
CJ McCollum POR 15 / 2
Otto Porter WAS 15 / 2
Michael Carter-Williams PHI 9 / 1
Anthony Bennett CLE 10 / 1
Ben McLemore SAC 10 / 1
Cody Zeller CHA 12 / 1
Alex Len PHO 14 / 1
Kelly Olynyk BOS 14 / 1
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope DET 14 / 1
Shabazz Muhammad MIN 15 / 1
Shane Larkin ATL 16 / 1
Sergey Karasev CLE 25 / 1
Tim Hardaway Jr. NYK 25 / 1
Nerlens Noel PHI 33 / 1
Dennis Schroeder ATL 33 / 1

This is why. I think Jazz fans will support a fun team with good players -- even if they are losing. After all, they supported a less than fun team that was losing the last two seasons. Having an exciting core LED by a ROY player would be good.

Seriously, when was the last time we had an All-NBA Rookie 1st team guy? Look it up -- and post your answer in the comments section.

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The bad news about what we've done in free agency is that we're using flexibility this year to ensure flexibility next year. That means eating up a lot of bad contracts. We're taking in over $24m from Golden State alone here. Here's what we're looking like:

2013 2014
Player Pos 2014 2015
Richard Jefferson SG/SF $11,046,000
Andris Biedrins C $9,000,000
Marvin Williams SF/PF $7,500,000
Derrick Favors PF/C $6,008,196
Enes Kanter PF/C $4,505,280 $5,694,674
Brandon Rush SG/SF $4,000,000
Gordon Hayward SG/SF $3,452,183
Alec Burks PG/SG $2,202,000 $3,034,356
Trey Burke (2013 #9) PG $2,023,300 $2,123,800
Jeremy Evans SF/PF $1,660,257 $1,795,000
Rudy Gobert (2013 #27) C $899,000 $939,500
Jerel McNeal * PG $884,293 $948,163
Total Salaries $53,180,509 $14,535,493
Est. Salary Cap $58,044,000 $62,100,000
Est. Luxury Tax Line $71,600,000 $75,700,000

(This is an update on Peter Novak's work)

So we're at $53.2m this year, and the Cap is at $58.0m -- so we're not quite dunzo. But we're getting there. The good news about what we've done so far in free agency is that we only have $14.5m tied up next year. If you add in the contract extensions for Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward.

We have 'about' five bigs with Favors, Kanter, Biedrins, Gobert, and Evans/Marvin. We have a number of wings as well with Hayward, Burks, Rush, Marvin, and Richard. (Dick?) There are some gaps in our roster though.

Our PG situation right now is just Trey, possibly the non-guaranteed Jerel, and maybe Alec at times. I don't think we have enough space to retain Mo Williams. So say goodbye. This leaves it that we're prob going to bring back a Jamaal, or Earl, or similarly cheap player for about $2m a season and call it an off-season.

What do you guys think?

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This isn't supposed to be so doom and gloomy. It's not. Next season is going to be awesome. Why? Because it's as if our front office is handing the keys to the younger guys and telling us to have fun, but be back by 11 pm. This is a foundational shift of our team, and is necessary for our future development and/or immediate understanding of who we need to keep and build around, and who we need to jettison out of here.





Big ups to Memoismoney / ProdigyJF for the C4 Vids above.

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