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Downbeat #1808: How to Improve the Jazz

Another game, another injury-fueled loss.

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

As I watched the Jazz last night, I thought it was a miracle they scored more than 70 points. The Jazz media, who have to find ways to point out positive things about the team, point out that they play hard. And this is true ... they do play hard. And I do think it's why that even with so many good players gone, they don't get blown out much.

But at some point you have to score. Which is the problem.

I love Gordon Hayward, but he's not a superstar scorer and can simply get shut down when he's the only guy the opponents have to try to stop. I'm a Withey fan ... he's clearly a God to me (most likely the God of Rhubarb). But man ... I don't think anyone else on the team is giving quality minutes.

So, how to improve? The Jazz clearly need better support players ... guys who excel in a limited role but can also occasionally step up and fill a bigger role if needed. To go all late 2000's on us, they have no Wesley Mattews, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap level players coming off the bench.

At the same time, it take two to tango and to get something in the trade, the Jazz have to give up something. The reality is that unless they trade their keepers, they don't have great players to entice other teams. Their best trade bait is the infamous "future assets". So any potential trade partner would likely have to be more interested in future picks than currently good players.

With that in mind, here are some possible trade opportunities:

1 small
Phoenix Suns.

Simply put, the Suns are a mess. Lousy ownership, lousy personnel decisions, and a plethora of terrible attitudes. With Bledsoe out, they may go into blow-it-up mode.

Players who I'd possibly like:

  • Brandon Knight
  • Jon Leuer
  • TJ Warren

Of all of them, I like TJ Warren the most. He's also young and probably one of the few guys the Suns would be least interested in trading. But you never know.

I want more

2 small
Sacramento Kings.

Also a mess. Are they ready to blow up the Rudy Gay-DeMarcus Cousins era? They might be. In that case, the Jazz should be on the phone all over ... not cuz I want either of them, but because somebody will and a three or four-team trade may be the best way to improve the team.

But if I'm looking at the Kings roster, who would I like?

  • Omri Casspi
  • Darren Collison
  • Ben McLemore
  • The KOOF
  • Rajon Rondo*

I know ... Rondo. The attitude. He fought with Doc Rivers. He couldn't get along with Rick Carlisle. Throw a bad attitude into a team struggling because of injuries and you could create a nuclear meltdown. At the same time, he's also an actual real NBA PG, giving out 11 assists per game, and ... this is what makes me pause ... only on contract for this year.

I don't know if I'd go after him or not. The pitfalls make me think no. But then the benefits ... and the contract ... make me think maybe.

Collison is another target, Casspi is a long shot, and I've always liked McLemore.

Risky Business

New Orleans Pelicans.

They need to do something to change the team around in the next two years (and thus keep Anthony Davis around). If they are smart, they would be interested in picks, because Davis is on contract for the next five years. They don't have to turn things around today. They can be intelligently patient. But I don't know if the Pellies front office is intelligently patient. Anyway, players I like:

  • Anthony Davis (duh)
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Tyreke Evans
  • Jrue Holiday

Okay, so I don't love Tyreke or Jrue, and I do wonder about what would happen next year when Dante returns. That said, they are both much better at creating shots for others than anyone on the Jazz right now and would make a HUGE difference in their ability to actually score points. Ryan Anderson is a "no duh" kind of longing, too.

Feeling Lucky

4 small
Denver Nuggets.

They are fully rebuilding right now, and so may be interested in sending off some older guys with bigger contracts for the picks. There's really two guys on my list:

  • Gallo
  • Faried

Gallo's shooting well from 3, but struggling from his shooting overall. Faried has the kind of energy that makes Booker so popular, but with much better actual production. Both guys would be exactly what I want: can contribute well to a bigger/starting role when necessary but still clearly a second banana behind Favors when Faves is healthy.


5 small
Milwaukee Bucks.

They aren't very good, and their roster is just too weird. At the same time, their core is very young and they may be willing to take picks with a long-term view of making their roster make more sense. I don't know.

  • Khris Middleton
  • Greg Monroe
  • Jabari Parker

I probalby shouldn't have even written Middleton, not because I don't like him but because the Jazz would never get him for mostly future picks.

As for Jabari and Greg ... I have no idea what the Bucks want for the future, but it's clear that you can't start Giannis, Monroe, and Jabari. And since the Bucks aren't giving up Giannis ... it seems that either Monroe or Jabari should be a possiblity. I don't know how much, though.


* * *

So there you go. Who knows what kind of players are actually available for what the Jazz have to offer (basically Trey and picks). But if you want to improve the team, this is what they'd have to target ... teams interested in picks and building for the future.