In case you haven't heard, the NBA is (tentatively) back. With training camp and free agency set to start on December 9th, things are going to move at light speed -- relatively speaking -- over the next four weeks. While the teams haven't been able to speak with players and their agents, the front offices have been preparing for this scenario and will move quickly.
So let's take a look at what the Jazz need to do once the green flag drops.
- Sign their two first-round picks. Enes Kanter may not be as unlucky as he thinks. Having been denied the opportunity to play in high school, college, and now the pros, Kanter will finally get to play some real basketball. This has to be a huge relief for him and for all of the other rookies that came out early.
I could be the most excited about seeing Alec Burks play season. His shooting at the Pro Player Classic was impressive, even with the charity game caveat. Now he'll get some tutelage from Jeff Hornacek on his shot. He could be special.
- Once the two rookies are signed, the Jazz roster count will sit at 11. If the rules about minimum roster requirements stay the same in the new CBA, the Jazz will need to sign at least two more players. There's a huge need at PG. Given the quick training camp and his desire to come back, I would be surprised if Earl Watson isn't brought back.
The second player is a bit of an unknown. The Jazz aren't going to be able to offer anything but the minimum as they're over the salary cap. Do they bring in a vet? Do they bring in an undrafted player? Neither one isn't going to be a major or even a minor contributor. Given the team's current position, it's not going to be a power forward nor a center. That leaves a wing or another point guard as the likely choices. Jerry Sloan always had three PGs on the roster. Will Tyrone Corbin do the same or will he use Alec Burks as an emergency third-string PG?
The free-agent crop isn't much this year and even less so for the Jazz given that they can't offer much unless they use the MLE. Do they bring Andrei Kirilenko back or has that ship sailed for the Jazz?
- To amnesty or not to amnesty. I don't think the Jazz will use the amnesty clause this season. Using it on Al Jefferson would cost too much. If they do use it, they would then have to go out and sign another player to meet roster requirements.
Mehmet Okur and Raja Bell remain the likely candidates to be waived by the Jazz. Okur has played well overseas though and would be a solid contributor for the team. There would be interest in him though from other teams and the Jazz could get something for him instead of just paying him to go away.
As for Bell, nobody is kicking down the door to trade for him. A poor season and $6 million left on his deal makes him an unattractive target. Releasing him would allow him to sign with a contending team and it would allow the young Jazz players to get more playing time. But would the Millers pay that much?
- What's the rotation going to be? There are a finite number of minutes available and five players that need them in the front court. Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap, Mehmet Okur, and Enes Kanter will be vying for playing time. I suspect that things will stay the same for now with Jefferson and Millsap starting and Favors being the first option off the bench. Memo will be used in spot situations and Kanter will start out getting garbage minutes. That could change over the course of the season. The coaches and front office could decide that it's time to hand over the keys to the youngsters and start trading.
Who starts at shooting guard and small forward? With Bell no longer a part of the team's long-term plans, C.J. Miles and Gordon Hayward should be used in these spots with Alec Burks playing backup at the two.
Unfortunately, Tyrone Corbin won't get a full training camp with his team and the 66-game schedule won't provide for many practices. When you consider that he didn't have summer league to evaluate his rookies or to scout other undrafted players, you can see that the Jazz may already be a season behind in rebuilding and coming together.
As Bolerjack would say, "Buckle up!"