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Another Free Agency Primer

Threeish days from the draft. Threeish days till the start of free agency, and here I am with a primer to figure out if the small moves around the margin could do anything. A little recap though, the Jazz haven’t changed any part of their team since last season, except for the fact that some contracts expired and others got a year older. One thing of note, was David Locke saying that the Jazz were looking to resign Juancho Hernangomez for a smaller deal rather than guaranteeing this year. I think this is dumb. Juancho showed why he is a guy the Jazz need to invest in during the latter part of the season and playoffs. At $7ishM, cutting this contract or reducing it isn’t going to allow the Jazz to get a better player through free agency. It’ll just cut down on the tax bill. On the flip side John Hollinger has him at a minimum on the Bord$ ranking so there is that.

Let’s start this off by talking about four guys that Eric Walden included in his free agency targets article (that you should pay for a subscription and read in full), that have been talked about through a couple different sources and should be talked about more. I’m also including the Bord$ number from Hollinger for reference to know if the Jazz could get them with the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception valued a little over $6M.

For perspective, the following teams are or projected below the salary cap: OKC, Orlando, Detroit, Indiana, San Antonio, Portland, and New York (maybe cuz Jalen Brunson). This means they can give larger salaries like a max. A lot of teams won’t be able to sign new players this year. That means that the large free agency contracts will be few and far between and a lot of teams will be offering Mid-Level and Bi-Annual exceptions, as well as vet minimums to anyone that will take them. The closest thing we have to an Otto Porter Jr. this year is Vic Oladipo and John Wall. Otto Porter Jr is available this year again but I don’t think he’ll be on a contract less than $2.5M. Bruce Brown and Gary Payton II are available for new contracts but are more likely than not going to be above the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception that the Jazz have so I won’t mention them.

Amir Coffey (Clippers) – Bord$ 5.17M – 6’7" – Basketball Reference Link

Coffey was on a minimum salary and doubled his playing time this year in large part because Kawhi and Paul George were out so much. He’s a pretty steady three-point shooter at 38% career and 21-22 while almost tripling his attempts from 1.3 to 3.7 per game from the previous year that he shot 41%. He finishes through contact at the rim, and can defend across guards and forwards. Danuel House is a guy that really showed how valuable he could be to the Jazz displaying similar qualities, which is why Coffey and the next guy should be pursued.

Juan Toscano-Anderson – Bord$ Minimum(?) - 6’6" – Basketball Reference Link

Toscano-Anderson filled in the gaps impressively for GSW during the regular season, yet only appeared in four playoff games. Part of this was the fact that the Warriors had Kuminga, Iggy, OPJ, GP2, and Damion Lee competing for minutes in similar roles. He’s currently on the minimum but could be had for more. He’s a high energy guy on defense and has done alright in three-point shooting year to year but always at less than two attempts per game. JTA slashes to the rim well, is always engaged, and could be a better and more active shooter in a system where he’s able to take more shots. I’m a believer in him.

Chris Boucher – Bord$ 19.8M – 6’9" – Basketball Reference Link

Coming off a $7M contract, he’s a sizeable (slenderman?) wing that hit 38% of his three-pointers on four attempts during the 20-21 season, but dropped 10% on one less attempt this last year. He’s a weird fit behind Siakam and OG on the raptors because he represents some of the skills that they had but isn’t as good as them. But It’s most likely that he’s going to get paid more than the TMLE. Should the Jazz try for him? YUP. Will the Jazz get him? Probably not. He’s also on bird rights for the Raptors so that makes things harder to acquire.

Damion Lee – Bord$ 6M – 6’5" – Basketball Reference Link

Another Warrior, another problem of trying to pry away a player that just won a championship. This is hard because teams that were in the finals usually are above the cap or above the luxury tax line and thus need as many low contracts as they can to continue without hitting the reset button. Having rights to players usually allows this to happen. Lee played in roughly the same number of games and minutes as JTA and could be just as getable. Lee is more of a shooting guard though and a question would arise of where does he get playing time if the Jazz want to become bigger.

Some players Eric didn’t mention that I would like to in case things go horribly south:

Josh Okogie – Bord$ 5M – 6’4"

Doesn’t shoot well from three, has lost minutes over his rookie contract, but a pretty good defender.

Derrick Jones Jr – Bord$ 7.2M – 6’5"

Good defender, very bad three-point shooter, but injuries and less playing time have decreased his usage and output.

Troy Brown Jr – Bord$ 4.7M – 6’6"

Getting better as a three-point shooter (35% last year) would be more impressive if the minutes and points increased as well. Still a good defender but I don’t know if he’s worth it above a vet minimum.

Let’s talk about the Golden State Warriors. Mainly because of how their roster is constructed. Yes, Curry, Klay, Draymond, and Wiggins basically put them over the salary cap. But they have rookie contracts and minimum deals that put them over the edge when it comes to the daily grind of the NBA season and allowing their stars to shine in the playoffs. Looney, Iggy, OPJ, GP2, Bjielica, Lee, and JTA all made under $5M. This doesn’t even include Jordan Poole who also made $2.1M and is on a team option for next year at $3.9M (but this will probably be increased to somewhere around $100 over 5 years the following contract).

What do I think the Jazz should do? Take the GSW model and prioritize Hernangomez, House Jr., Coffey, and JTA. The Jazz need wings and even if they trade for some they should want more. No matter what portion of the core the Jazz decide to stick with, they still need wings that can defend and bring energy to the court. The Jazz need guys that will push the rest of the team to their potential and fill in the defensive lapses that were all too common during the season and playoffs. These guys should also make players like Royce and Bogey consider playing defense in ways that don’t get them taken off the court. Best case scenario, the Jazz can be is probably getting three of the four, while the worst is overpaying for one.

A thought on Danny Ainge.

Right now, he reminds me of a character from the movie The Dark Knight. During the scene where the two ferries with prisoners and citizens get shutdown with bombs on them. Each boat has the option to blow up the other in order to save themselves. Danny Ainge is the prisoner that walks up to the guards/warden dudes and says "I’m going to do something you should’ve done ten minutes ago" then proceeds to throw the remote out the window. Danny Ainge acted like he was going to blow things up then did nothing when a draft full of wings and a draft the next year with a generational talent was available.

A side note.

I don’t think the Jazz can afford to bring back Joe. A lot of teams want a 6’8" playmaker that can shoot threes lights out and defend when he’s not being talked about as a trade piece to any team that will give the Jazz popcorn. Coming off an ACL injury sucks but the need for Joe’s skill set is there and someone will take a flyer on him.

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