During our well covered dinner last Saturday night, Diana, Yucca, and I were discussing the oddity of how the Jazz are stacking the team with one year "fill-ins". They added Randy Foye and Mo Williams, both with only 1 year left on their contracts. They also have expiring contracts in Millsap, Jefferson, Bell, Watson, and Tinsley. That means that the team is only on the hook for $9.16 million next year. Obviously we didn't know the exact numbers, but we knew the situation and we were wondering what is the endgame? Then, with yesterday's announcement, the intrigue only increased. My guess is we are going to find out how committed the Jazz ownership is to winning, next offseason. They have the money to make some huge splashes next summer, so that is also where we will get to see how well the KOC / DL tandem runs this team.
So, with that roughly $56 million in mind (the Luxury Tax this year is $70 mil, so just below that), what can the Jazz do? Here's some intriguing free agents in 2013:
Ty Lawson - Restricted
Steph Curry - Restricted
Chris Paul - Unrestricted
Andrew Bynum - Unrestricted
James Harden - Restricted
Serge Ibaka - Restricted
Dwight Howard - Unrestricted
Andre Igoudala - Unrestricted
Tyreke Evans - Restricted
Manu Ginobili - Unrestricted
There are some extremely interesting names in that list, and I hope that the Jazz are absolutely fearless and aggressive in their pursuit of some really great players. They have to be.
Now, with the above list in mind, who intrigues you? I see several names on that list that Clark and I talked about specifically. The whole list brings up so many interesting questions, but I think that the Jazz absolutely have to consider Chris Paul and Steph Curry. No, not consider. Pick one of them and make a convincing pitch. Figure out which one fits the best and make them believe they can win here.
They also have to consider another big. I'm not sure where the Jazz sit with Big Al, but I see names on this list that are far better options. With that much cap room, the Jazz could make a substantial offer to Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard. Whatever your personal feelings about either of those two players, they are top notch. If you really want to win, you pursue one of them. Can you imagine a lineup anchored in the front court by one of those two and Favors at power forward? God help anyone that tried to enter the paint.
The reason the Jazz can make a convincing pitch? Favors, Kanter, Hayward, and Burks. All young, all have playoff experience, and all under contract for two more seasons after this one. That means that for the Jazz to make the pitch that this is a young, winning team, largely depends on how those four perform this season. It would be awfully difficult to deny the possibilities of achievement if you're one of the players on the above list, if Hayward and Favors especially, make that 3rd year leap that so many great players make.
The other reason the Jazz can be convincing? Us. Utah is consistently recognized as having the most loyal, knowledgeable, and intense fan base and that has to appeal, at some level, to these players.
The last thing I want to touch on is my perspective on the Dennis Lindsey hiring. One of the most intelligent thing the Jazz have done is avoid ex-players for front office positions. I know that they all played at some point, but I'm talking about a prominent ex-player. For the most part, I think its a bad idea. They have this tendency to gravitate towards players of their ilk (see: Jerry Sloan and Matt Harpring) and it often makes for some bad rosters.
Further, their prominence quite often causes them to get sucked into the pitfall known as escalation of commitment. I've written about this before, but its because its something I see all the time in the sports world and it can be devastating (see: Isiah Thomas, GM- New York Knicks). This is usually a result of the sort of ego needed to propel a person to such greatness as a player, but it is difficult to overcome as a manager. That hubris requires a huge swing in personality towards humility to no longer be an issue.
Weigh in with your top free agent desires for next offseason, and what you think the Jazz can pitch to them. Try to keep the cynicism to a minimum. I know, its difficult.