House of Smith/Powers of Ainge

An overwhelming feeling of disappointment is all I’ve got right now. Did I want something different for difference’s sake? Kind of, yeah. Wanting something different than what you have seems to be part of the human condition. Can you imagine being a player and walking into the gym first day of practice, after a summer of being told a couple people in your locker room are going to be traded and no one is. The whole theme of the night was the Jazz don’t want to get cents on the dollar, but at this point I want to know what was the difference? Five cents? Ten? Twenty? Is anyone on this team going to play for one another when they step on the floor together? Or is everyone going to stat pad for a contract or trade value to another team?

I know that there is a summer left to make trades and thirty days till someone that was drafted can be traded but damn. The current projection if the Jazz guarantee Dok and NAW is $155ishM which is $33M higher than the salary cap and $6M higher than the luxury tax. In addition to that (with the guarantee of Dok and NAW), the Jazz have 4 roster spots to fill. They have the taxpayer MLE ($6.15M) which they can try to use on House or probably split between him and another player. Not sure how that is going to work. There is still a logjam of guards with Don, Mike, and JC for NAW and Butler to get many minutes. Doesn’t seem like Dok is going to be a backup center unless he grows exponentially over the summer (side note: he does have some of the greatest hands I’ve ever seen. If there’s a way we can give Rudy that ability he’d be 1st team All-NBA), so the Jazz need a backup probably off the minimum (which doesn’t sound like Whiteside due to experience and cost). Juancho isn’t fully guaranteed, but he’s something the Jazz should try hard to keep seeing as he’s getting paid $6.6M and is proving himself as a great 3&D player. Do people really expect Joe to come back? What other player can the Jazz hope to get?

For all the talk about trading into the first and not doing so, let’s talk about the Western Conference and who got better since then. OKC looks primed to make a run in a couple years, Houston has a lot of good young wings, San Antonio had an incredible draft and seems to be playing the long game, and Sacramento did what Sacramento always does (outpace every team for worst franchise possible, truly a remarkable feat). These are teams that aren’t going to be better than the Jazz in terms of record this season but will probably beat the Jazz multiple times. Are the Lakers better? No, but the Jazz can’t beat them in the regular season and a healthy Lebron/AD could easily make a better record. The Pelicans are getting Zion back and picked up Dyson Daniels, yeah, I’d say they’re better than last year. Add to the fact that they have Brandon Ingram/Herb Jones/CJ/Larry Nance and a lot of young dudes on smaller contracts. Damn. The Clippers are getting Kawhi and PG13 back so that’s cool. Denver is getting Jamal Murray and MPJ back so that’s another thing that’s cool. Minnesnota has Anthony Edwards and that’s just scary. Out of Dallas, Phoenix, Golden State, and Memphis; Phoenix might be the only team that’s worse off because Ayton seems to be signing for a max with the Pistons. But they are still a better team than the Jazz. By my account that puts the Jazz somewhere in the 7 to 12 range of the Western Conference. Right in the play-in game spot. Right where they want to be.

At some point a trigger has to be pulled on this team. Being mediocre isn’t going to do it and time is running out on any of the current roster having positive trade value. The only thing that’s in my head right now is the Almost Ainge quotes coming out. I hate it. I don’t care if the Jazz would have gotten eighty cents back on the dollar. Get picks. Get younger. Who cares about this season. Let go. Ryan Smith may want an All Star in his house when he hosts it, but it might not happen. Sometimes you have to look like a fool for a bit in order to get back on top. Otherwise, the Jazz will be a luxury tax team in the lottery with one first round pick between this year and the next two. To put a positive spin on things, it could be worse. We could be the Kings.

Here’s what I suggest. Blow it all up. Get as many first-round picks as possible from the current group and do what the Thunder did. Accept salary dumps from other teams to get more picks and stay out of getting fined by the NBA for having too low of a team salary. Do this for three years or so and see where you are. Let the players go and see if they can contend elsewhere. Become a fun team of young players with nothing to lose rather than an old team wondering what city they’ll end up in night after night.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.