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Utah Jazz Sign Trevor Booker, Become Voltron -- The Downbeat #1406

Utah aims for maximum versatility. Also: Dante Exum will play for Australia, Kyrylo Fesenko is still amazing, Trey Burke visits The Starters, and your FanPosts.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Oh! Hey! Cool! The Jazz played another Summer League game last night! And they won, really easily! And nobody really had an amazing game, but Denver was completely terrible! And Rudy Gobert didn't play due to a sore shoulder, but is expected back later this week! And there will be a "later this week," because the Jazz earned a first-round bye going forward in Summer League! And at some point I will stop ending sentences with exclamation points! Like, now, maybe!

I really don't have a ton to say about the game. You should read Amar's quick recap linked above, and by the time this publishes, I bet Peter J. Novak will have clever things to say in a recap of his own, straight from Las Vegas. Dante Exum and Rodney Hood only combined for nine points, Trey Burke had 11 with six rebounds and three assists, and Rudy sat behind the bench in street clothes and made me sad.

(Also pictured: Brad Jones, plotting world domination.)

The guys who played best on Tuesday night were Erik Murphy and Malcolm Thomas. Unfortunately, news broke earlier Tuesday that makes life difficult for both of them: the Jazz signed forward Trevor Booker from the Wizards to a two-year, $10 million contract.

Amar, because he is a crazy person, broke down the deal here, and the Jazz's David Locke gave his own analysis here. For my part, it took me a few tweets, and a few smart replies, to figure out how I felt about this deal.

At first glance, $5 million a year for a power forward averaging 6 points and 5 rebounds doesn't seem like a great deal. That goes double when you have a player like Jeremy Evans already on your roster, who provides almost identical numbers at the same position for a fraction of the cost.

But despite the statistical similarities, Evans and Booker T are pretty different players stylistically. Evans is all graceful leaping and Superball energy, and Booker is a physical, tough post presence. And that's the point, I think.

Like the mighty Voltron spoken of in ancient myth, the Jazz are attempting to form a roster that can adapt to form something greater than the sum of its parts. Need extra shooting and floor spacing? Fire away, Novak. Big bodies wearing you down? Booker can dig it, sucka. Wanna pick up the pace? Paint us a picture, Jeremy. And combine all that with the main rotation bigs of Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert, and you've suddenly got a rather versatile frontcourt. Mix and match as much as you want, Coach Q.

As for what Booker's signing means for Erik Murphy and Malcolm Thomas...well, they still have a decent shot to make the roster. The Jazz need 13 warm bodies at minimum, and they only have 11 under guaranteed contract, including Booker. Murphy, Thomas, John Lucas III and Ian Clark are all on non-guaranteed deals and could be waived at any time.

But the frontcourt is pretty crowded now, with Favors, Kanter, Gobert, Booker, Novak and Evans all under contract. It's likely that the Jazz will seek to fill out the roster with more guards. Another point guard especially seems like a lock, whether it's Lucas or Clark on the cheap or someone else in free agency.

Still, Murphy and Thomas could each be had for very little money, and might not be bad choices as backup-backup-insurance bench guys. I doubt the Jazz will want to spend very much beyond the salary floor -- and they certainly won't be turning back to one Carlos Boozer, who was amnestied by the Bulls on Tuesday.

Anyway. You can turn to smarter people than me for salary/free agency nonsense. Point is, Trevor Booker is here. And the Jazz are Voltron.

So Dante Exum didn't play super-amazing-pants on Tuesday night. But he didn't have to for the Jazz to win. He still looked in control offensively (though a little tired and sloppy, playing his second game in back-to-back nights), and he still showed flashes of that megaquick first step.

He has shown more than enough for the Australian National Team to recall him next week for their 12-man FIBA World Cup squad, and the Jazz have given their blessing for him to do so. Here's the Sydney Morning Herald (yes, we link to Australian newspapers now!):

There were concerns Jazz may wrap their No. 5 draft pick in cotton wool as they begin to rebuild, but Lemanis confirmed on Tuesday the 19-year-old had been given the green light.

Exum has long expressed his desire to play for Australia at every opportunity, even requesting his manager write a clause into any NBA contract he signs.

Three-time NBA champion Luc Longley admitted he thought Exum would struggle to convince Jazz officials to allow him to play.

But Lemanis praised the club for seeing the bigger picture.

"They've been very open in their communication with us and I can't be more thankful of the way they've handled the situation,'' Lemanis said.

Exactly when Exum will join his Boomer brethren remains to be seen. Utah has advanced to the knockout stage of the Las Vegas Summer League with a first-round bye, so they could be playing as late as next Monday. It's unclear if Dante would stay that long, but the article from Sydney implies that the Boomers can recall him whenever they want starting next week.

It'll be interesting to see how Exum plays in a possibly expanded role, since Patty Mills' shoulder surgery will keep him out of the tournament and Matthew Dellavedova is the only other notable point guard on the team. And I know there's a risk of injury, but I'd rather have Exum play competitive, meaningful games at this point.

FanPosts! Most of this week's batch looks back at the Gordon Hayward signing and other events of the past week. First up: BoufantPuffydoo has a bone to pick with the Jazz front office:

I'm going to do this quick.

jazz made a stupid mistake in not predicting the market for Gordon Hayward. All the information was out there: the estimated cap, the number of free agent wings, estimates of caps space other teams would have, Gordon Hayward's post US team buzz, GH's agents intentions, and most importantly, the Paul George comp. If theJazz FO had evaluated this information correctly, they would have given Hayward the 13/4 that it has often been reported he wanted. It is possible that this number and what the Jazz offered is incorrect, but I think when you have all the information, this number makes a lot of sense.

Now that the Jazz have matched, KeyJazz examines how Hayward's deal might affect upcoming negotiations with Enes Kanter and Alec Burks:

This made me curious about how Gordon Hayward's market worth this summer would affect Enes Kanter's heading into free agency 2015. I believe the easiest and most honest answer is this: It won't. Again, that marketplace is a year away if Kanter opts to test those waters by not re-upping with the Jazz between now and the end of October.

Playing with the hypothetical that Kanter does dip his Turkish toes in the free agency pool of next summer, here's a look at that class. I've gathered the data on each available big man for next summer, power forward and center alike, and then put them into three different tiers.

Finally, we have two recaps of the Jazz's open scrimmage last week (was that really only last week? It seems like ages ago...) from andy wyllie and longtimejazzfan. Check 'em both out.

Thanks, everybody!



Do you still love Kyrylo Fesenko? I still love Kyrylo Fesenko. Andy B. Larsen, Fell Lord of Salt City Hoops, caught up with Fes in Las Vegas (he's playing for Minnesota's Summer League team), and the big guy gave us a shout-out:

Have Jazz fans kept up with you since leaving Utah?

Even since I haven't been on the team, on the roster of the Jazz, I still get a bunch of messages, I'm following some fan websites, SLCDunk, and I really appreciate all the support. Just today I was so shocked. A fan asked me to sign the shirt, and it said: 44, Jazz, Fesenko. And the fact is they never made those, so if he wants it, he has to custom make it, and it cost him like 100 bucks, and he still has it. That support is amazing.

Be sure to click through and read the whole interview. It's really cool to see how much Fesenko has grown up and how hard he's working to make it back into the league.

Also: This tweet made me laugh out loud for longer than I care to admit.

Last item for today: After Dante Exum visited's The Basketball Jones The Starters over the weekend, Trey Burke got his turn with Skeets, Tas and the crew. It gets weird.