clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Is the tank over for the Utah Jazz?

It sounds like the Jazz aren’t interested in keeping their 1st round pick next season

Utah Jazz v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

With the NBA draft and lottery just around the corner, the Utah Jazz have some decisions to make for next season and beyond. Utah Jazz insider Tony Jones was recently on local ESPN radio and talked about what the Jazz think beyond this year and if going after someone like Damian Lillard is something they can do. You can listen to the entire interview here.

When talking about what the Jazz are doing next season and Damian Lillard, Jones says that he’s “had conversations” and “the Jazz would consider it” but he also mentions that at 33 years old Damian Lillard doesn’t fit the Jazz’s timeline. He also mentions how much money Lillard would be making, upwards of $60M soon, which would be very hard to make work. On top of that, the defensive issues that come with Lillard are difficult to overcome, and considering the Jazz’s defense at the end of the season was the 23rd in the league, improving the defense needs to be a bigger priority.

Jones went on the mention that the Jazz look at next year’s draft as “very weak.” That is important to consider when you take into account that the Jazz will only be able to use their 1st round pick next year if they are in the bottom 10 in the league, much like the Dallas Mavericks this year, who had their pick protected 1-10 and notoriously tanked to make sure they got to 10 by resting Luka Doncic. That 2024 1st round pick was traded to Oklahoma City so the Jazz could get off of Derrick Favors’ contract.

(Just another reminder much more effectively the Jazz front office is running now)

I personally don’t think Damian Lillard will be in a Jazz jersey next year unless they can somehow get him for a few firsts, which isn’t likely. Like Jones’ mentions, it’s not a great fit in terms of team needs, timeline, and roster construction. What is likely for the Jazz is that they make their first round picks this draft and let them develop during the year alongside the other players they developed this season. The Jazz had a below .500 record when the season ended, but a lot of moves they made ensured that. It certainly sounds like the Jazz will go into this season looking to bolster the roster with around $20M minimum in cap space, and more if they don’t decide to re-sign Jordan Clarkson. And that brings up another point, the Jazz won’t be resting players next season for draft positioning. Collin Sexton will be back, and possibly Jordan Clarkson. Combine them with Lauri Markkanen, a more polished Ochai Agbaji/Walker Kessler, and additional free agents/trade additions and this team is a very likely playoff team.

Get ready for next season Jazz fans because it’s clear the Jazz will be going hard to make the playoffs, and they may be better than we think.