This summer has the most question marks surrounding the Jazz compared to any other offseason that I've seen in quite some time, if ever. That said, it is extremely difficult to accurately predict how the Jazz will do next season, let alone who will be on the roster.In case anyone needs to be reminded, these are the ways the dominoes are going to fall this summer:
May 20th: NBA Draft Lottery- This is where we find out where we will be picking with our lottery pick, anywhere from 1st to 7th, but most likely 5th. Official odds:
No. 1 Pick – 10.4%
No. 2 Pick – 11.2%
No. 3 Pick – 12.1%
No. 4 Pick – 9.9%
No. 5 Pick – 37.3%
No. 6 Pick – 17.7%
No. 7 Pick – 1.4%
June 26th: NBA Draft- This is where we will get 3 new rookies, we will get our lottery pick (anywhere from 1st to 7th), the Warriors 1st round pick (23rd), and our own 2nd rounder (35th). Based on what Dennis did in the draft this year, expect for one or more of these picks to be traded. My analysis of how any of the top 8 prospects would fit in with our team: Click here!
Juneish: Jazz will hire their new head coach. We have only had 3 coaches since 1981, 3 coaches in 33 seasons!!! that is just crazy. I believe this is the first time the Jazz are actually doing an offseason coaching search since they've been in Utah. Whoever gets chosen will play one of the largest roles in shaping the team culture for the next several seasons.
July 8th- Free Agent Signing Period Begins: Expect some team to offer Hayward a lucrative contract. Hopefully it is well below the max offer and the Jazz match, or else many of us will feel bittersweet regardless of whether the Jazz match or not. Also, expect the Jazz to make a couple offers to some unrestricted and restricted free agents. My free agent wish list from last week: Click here!
October 31st- Extension deadlines + Beginning of NBA regular season- This is the deadline for when 2 of our young core: Alec Burks and Enes Kanter will be chosen to be kept under contract for the Jazz for an additional 3-4 seasons or not. Expect one or both of them to be signed at extensions for about $10 million per season each. I'm guessing one of them gets extended and one doesn't (because greedy agents + uncertainty of true value).
With all of those dates regarding our new coach, new draft picks, and free agent scenarios, there are a lot of variables that could dramatically impact our team next season. We currently have 7 people under contract for next season. Here we go
The Almost 'For-Sure' Things on our Roster
1. Derrick Favors ($12.8 Million): Our Defensive Anchor and likable blue-collar big-man is under contract with us through 2018.
2. Enes Kanter ($5.7 Million): Our bull-in-a-china-shop big-man oozing with potential is quite an enigma who could still end up being a bust if he regresses even further this season. However, he could just as well blossom this season under a new coach and become a 20-10 machine. Will become a restricted free agent next season if no extension is agreed to by October 31st.
3. Alec Burks ($3.0 Million): The government name assumed the sixth man role this season but many Jazz fans, myself included, are clamoring to see the reigns released and allow Burks to become the number scoring option next season (barring us drafting Wiggins or Parker). Will become a restricted free agent next season if no extension is agreed to by October 31st.
4. Trey Burke ($2.5 Million): Our very own top 3 rookie (albeit in a historically weak rookie class) showed that he can hold his own as a starting point guard, and hopefully can make the jump this season or next as an above average starting point guard (drafting Exum or Smart with our lottery pick will change this dynamic). Under contract through 2017, assuming that the Jazz pick up their team options on him.
5. Jeremy Evans ($1.8 Million): This trampoline of a player really showed that he can be an effective role player and crack the rotation without having to worry about his defense as much while also adding a jump shot. Will become an unrestricted free agent if no extension is agreed to.
6. John Lucas III ($1.6 Million): I believe this contract is non-guaranteed if he is cut before the season starts and he may be in trouble of being cut unless the Jazz desire his veteran presence in the locker room. Few Jazz fans would be against him not playing a single minute on the court this season. Can be cut this offseason, if not, contract is guaranteed for the season, then he will become an unrestricted free agent after.
7. Rudy Gobert ($1.1 Million): This tall Frenchman with a huge wingspan will most likely be our 3rd or 4th big-man next year and he has already shown that he can rebound and block at elite rates. Foul trouble and offense in general are areas where he should work on improving in. Under contract through 2017, assuming that the Jazz pick up their team options on him.
The Question Marks:
8. Gordon Hayward(????; Likely $8-14 Million): This is our key restricted free agent this summer. He was our number one option this season, and I think our team record shows how good of a team is that employs Hayward as their primary offensive option. That said, I love Hayward as a second or third option on our team and I think he can be an ideal glue-guy on a contender's roster. Hope the Jazz match no matter what, although I would prefer it be closer to $10 million per year than the max of about $14 million per year since this will hurt our roster flexibility in future seasons.
9. Diante Garrett (????; Likely $0.9-2 Million): Was our backup point guard last season and surprised for being a D-League player beforehand. Word that comes to mind for him is: decent. I wouldn't mind the team looking for an upgrade from him as backup point guards are fairly disposable if you ask me.
10. Ian Clark (????; Likely $0.8-2 Million): Next to Gobert, Clark was one of the guys that I definitely wanted to see much more court time. In the summer league, he shot lights out on Golden State's roster. Then we signed him....then he rotted on our bench. I still can't tell if he is a worthy role player who can shoot the team to success or merely D-League level talent. I want the Jazz to give him another shot this season, as shooters are always valuable commodities.
11. Marvin Williams (????; LIkely $3-8 Million): "Stretch forward" this season for our team, but probably should have cam off the bench. I would not hate it if he came back for cheap (i.e. no more than $5 million) to be our 8th man and be a positive role model for our younger players.
D-Leaguers who probably won't be back:
12. Malcolm Thomas: Hardly sniffed playing time, when he did never impressed me.
13. Erik Murphy: Was signed on at the end of the season, just so we will have first rights to him if we want to keep him this season. Probably will be cut at training camp.
So, from the above players: Favors, Kanter, Burks, Burke, Evans, Lucas, and Gobert make up $28.62 Million of our roster for next season. Assuming we draft around 5th, 23rd, and 35th, those 3 picks will cost us about $6 Million combined, bringing us to about $35 Million. We could then match a max Hayward contract for about $14 Million to put us at $49 Million. In short, that is 11 players under contract for $49 Million.
For next season, the salary cap is projected at $63 Million, while the luxury tax level is projected at $77 Million, with the next season projected to go up by an additional $3-4 Million. We will have about $14 Million to give to our remaining 2-4 roster spots. I really hope the Jazz make a play for one of Bledsoe/Ariza/Lowry this offseason to complement our young core nicely.
1. I think this will be our true growing pains season, where at least we'll actually get to see some solid development from our youth.
3. We will get 2 former top assistant coaches for the top of our new coaching staff. They will be defensively focused and try to implement a system similar to Popovich's but obviously come up short. (Nate McMillan + ???)
4. We slide to 5th in the lottery and draft Julius Randle. Draft Shabazz Napier with our 23rd pick, and Clint Capela with our 35th pick.
5. Player averages:
a. Burks- 18 PPG, 4 APG, 2 RPG, 44 FG%, 38 3P%, 85 FT%
b. Favors- 16 PPG, 9 RPG, 2 BPG, 52 FG%, 75 FT%
c. Kanter- 17 PPG, 9 RPG, 1 BPG, 48 FG%, 36 3P%, 75 FT%
d. Burke- 14 PPG, 8 APG, 1.5 SPG, 43 FG%, 37 3P%, 91 FT%
e. Hayward- 15 PPG, 4 APG, 4 RPG, 1 SPG, 1 PG, 46 FG%, 40 3P%, 82 FT%
f. Randle- 12 PPG, 7 RPG, 50 FG%, 76 FT%
g. Gobert- 7 PPG, 7 RPG, 2 BPG, 4 FPG
h. Evans- 9 PPG, 5 RPG, 1 BPG
6. We'll be making a play for a huge free agent or trade at the trade deadline or next offseason.