This season's Utah Jazz team is making baby steps towards being a team no one else will want to face. Utah is a few seasons away from that status though. I have long held that the team does a great job scouting players to draft, and make excellent draft decisions. But that's just one piece of the puzzle. Free Agency will remain a problem in Utah, the team had trouble with this even when they were winning 50+ games for an entire decade. So that leaves trades.
Are there players the Jazz want this season? Are there players the other teams may want from the Jazz? Let's go over some ideas:
The Utah Jazz have very little experience, and a lot of youth. They have two point guards under the age 23, who have played 1.5 total NBA seasons in Trey Burke and Dante Exum. One is a shooter who can't hit, the other is a playmaker who also can't shoot. They have two bigmen prospects who are 22 years old, Enes Kanter who is great on offense, and Rudy Gobert who is a beast on defense.
All four of those players are still on their rookie contracts; however, Enes Kanter is going to be a restricted free agent this off-season -- and I don't know how trading someone with a poison pill provision works out.
There are other guys who are on rookie deals on the team, like Rodney Hood -- but he's just too young and too inexperienced to even be someone another team would want, as he missed most of this season with a foot injury.
Utah has positional redundancy / depth with young guys starting and even younger guys filling in for them off the bench. Everyone is learning together, however the fear is that there is some cannibalization happening. In a perfect world Rudy Gobert wouldn't be playing just 17.1 mpg, and Dante Exum would be on track to play over 2,000 minutes. It's an imperfect world where the Jazz look to be heading to the lotto for yet another season, and adding even more youth.
The Jazz also have assets. They have the Balkans region version of Pau Gasol in Ante Tomic; and they have Brazilian John Stockton in Raul Neto. Both are still in their prime, or pre-prime right now and have good years left ahead of them. Furthermore, there are way too many future draft picks coming the Jazz' way.
- 2015 NBA Draft: 2nd round pick (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- 2016 NBA Draft: 2nd round pick (Golden State Warriors)
- 2016 NBA Draft: 2nd round pick (either Boston Celtics or Toronto Raptors, via Memphis)
- 2017 NBA Draft: 1st round pick (Golden State Warriors)
- 2017 NBA Draft: 2nd round pick (Golden State Warriors)
- 2017 NBA Draft: 2nd round pick (New York Knicks, via Toronto)
- 2018 NBA Draft: 2nd round pick (Denver Nuggets)
These picks are in addition to the Jazz owning all of their 1st and 2nd round picks going forward as well. So to recap, the Jazz have youth, and will look to add youth for a long time. The franchise is in a waiting / teaching mode right now, so I don't know if they know enough about each of their players to make a trade with one of them just yet . . . but you never know.
The Jazz need more experience and more defenders. The answer to the first problem is "play the young guys, and they will get more experience". The answer to the second problem could be "hey, maybe one of our players could become good at defense." In both cases it's about coaching, teaching, learning, and in-game experience. And all of those things take TIME.
Making a trade now seems to be the opposite of what the Jazz need to do -- maybe a trade needs to happen in a year and a half, but not now. And anyway, this franchise seems to be one that makes trades AFTER the season, instead of during it. But still, if we are hypothetically speaking here -- the Jazz bench REALLY needs some scoring and some veteran leadership. Our current, normative, bench unit is Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Rodney Hood, Trevor Booker, and Rudy Gobert. Another way to look at it is: rookie, rookie, rookie, rotation vet, and 2nd year player. EVEN SO, the team isn't that bad. But the team can be upgraded with trades.
That's why, on paper, the idea of getting Andrei Kirilenko back looked good, especially at the cost of a Jeremy Evans (contract year) and Toure' Murry (has played zero NBA games so far this season). But what's good on paper isn't always what's good on the court.
Honestly, I don't think the Jazz made a trade right now . . . but we'll see how the team is doing by February, and what extrinsic pressures have formed over time.
What, you never traded cards before? I guess it's the fact that the Jazz have Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors on the team already, and BOTH are off of their rookie contracts. Gordon Hayward, fundamentally, does many of the same things Alec Burks does (also off of his rookie contract); and while they compliment one another well at times -- in terms of specialization they overlap more than they do not. Neither of them is a knock down floor spacer. Effectively if we look at the Boston Celtics of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen -- both of them are PP types, and none of them are Ray Allens. You could argue that the Miami Heat got away with it with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade starting -- because they actually HAD Ray Allen on their roster as well. Being a championship contender is more than just luck, it's also planning. And in most cases, they don't have a lot of doubles around.
Derrick Favors is in the same boat, because he's either paired up with Enes Kanter, Trevor Booker, or rarely Rudy Gobert. Despite Booker and Kanter's work outside this season, all of them are inside players. This isn't a Carlos Boozer / Mehmet Okur thing going on, right now. This is a Karl Malone / Felton Spencer thing. Space is limited and if we are going by the normative conventions of the current NBA -- the Jazz have double situations with slashers, and paint bigs.
If Enes started his NBA career shooting threes he'd be good enough at it by now to work PERFECTLY with Favors, but none of his previous coaches wanted him to do that.
If Dennis Lindsey was worried about this type of thing he would make a trade; but again, I don't think that ANY trades are necessary right now. Check again in a year when we know more about our squad.
The Utah Jazz are not in win now mode, and while they are still in development mode, this time around they don't have a bunch of mercenaries to have a firesale over.