It was one year ago in which the Utah Jazz found themselves approaching what was quite possibly their biggest offseason in a decade. Unfortunately, the face of the franchise, Gordon Hayward, would eventually choose to forsake Utah and sign with the Boston Celtics. Miraculously for Utah, they struck gold in last year’s lottery by drafting Donovan Mitchell. That propelled Utah to a return to the playoffs and a new ceiling. Now the Utah Jazz find themselves once again approaching another big offseason, but this time, instead of dread and anxiety, this offseason has the chance to make a 5th seeded playoff team even better.
Going into next season, much of Utah’s core remains intact. Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, and Ricky Rubio are all returning next year. The Utah Jazz have even placed qualifying offers to Dante Exum, Raul Neto, and Georges Niang. Derrick Favors has said that he would like to return to Utah, but is doing his due diligence. If he doesn’t return, Dennis Lindsey already started to prepare a backup plan with Jae Crowder in case Favors leaves for greener pastures.
Dennis Lindsey has shown that he is able to get incredible value despite Utah’s small market reputation. He has landed past All Star Joe Johnson who helped Utah get to the 2nd round of the playoffs. He got extreme value out of Ekpe Udoh, Jonas Jerebko, and Thabo Sefolosha. He turned OKC’s 2018 1st Rounder into Ricky Rubio. So what could the Executive of the Year runner up do to get Utah Jazz fans excited?
Land the third core piece to Utah’s dynamic duo of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.
With the 2019 NBA Offseason already shaping up to be a crowded competition of teams freeing themselves of salary obligations, Utah could try to jump for a potential star this year while the competition is weaker. The chances of Utah landing a Paul George or LeBron James are smaller than Ant-Man’s visits to the quantum realm, so who does that leave them with?
Utah could go bet on their in house development staff and chase after a restricted free agent who may not have hit their potential with their current team. Those candidates would include Jabari Parker of the Milwaukee Bucks or Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic. For the sake of fit, Jabari Parker would be the dream four of Utah’s dreams. He’s a career 35% three point shooter (50% from the corner) and shot 38% from three last year. He has defensive issues and injury troubles, but Utah’s improved medical staff could be up for the challenge to keeping him healthy.
What would it take to get Jabari Parker?
Utah would not be able to get by with just using their full Mid Level Exception, valued at 8.6 million, with Jabari. Jabari had reportedly been offered an extension of $18 million/year with Milwaukee, but he turned it down. In order to make Milwaukee sweat, the Jazz would have to look at a fully guaranteed contract of at least $22 million or more. Even if Utah rescinds the rights to Derrick Favors, only signs Dante Exum to an $8M/year contract, and cuts ties with Sefolosha, Jerebko, Udoh, and Neto, they’re only left with ~$13M in cap space.
There could be another option.
Utah could try a double sign and trade with Milwaukee for the Chicago native. Justin Zanik had ties in that organization and could help with facilitating it. Milwaukee would be able to get an athletic defensive minded veteran and big in Favors, Utah could send Alec Burks for cap relief, or a combination of other players and next year’s first rounder in the deal. Jabari is able to get paid while Milwaukee is able to avoid the luxury tax for the next few years while not losing a valuable asset for nothing.
In the realm of more plausible possibility, a great haul for Utah would be leaving with Will Barton or Tyreke Evans. Tyreke Evans or Will Barton could provide Utah with a potent scoring punch off the bench and provide the Utah Jazz another offensive threat. Those two players would be in Utah’s price range and could be had for Utah’s full MLE. Going after one of them would allow Utah to also focus on re-signing both Dante Exum and Derrick Favors.
There is the chance Utah’s offseason could go south. Derrick Favors has said that he is going to be entertaining other offers. After all, he deserves it. He’s gone through a roller coaster with Utah and has been a stalwart of Utah’s roster. While it’s unlikely that Derrick Favors and Dante Exum could be offered massive contracts, it only takes one team to take a risk. Look no further than Tim Hardaway Jr. and New York last year. With Igor Kokoskov in Phoenix now, he could be an admirer of Dante Exum’s athleticism and convince the Phoenix Suns front office to take a chance. If such a situation occurs, Utah would be left with just Raul Neto has their backup point guard with Grayson Allen poised to play a much bigger role than anticipated.
How likely is it that Utah pulls off the dream scenario of Jabari Parker? Unlikely. Milwaukee would be crazy to let Jabari Parker walk for any amount. It’s much more likely that Utah re-signs Derrick Favors and Dante Exum, then adds a Will Barton or Tyreke Evans to the roster to fill out their bench.
But with Dennis Lindsey at the helm, anything’s possible.