Multiple sources have confirmed that the Utah Jazz are trading down in the NBA 2020 draft, giving the 23rd pick to the New York Knicks and rights to Ante Tomic in exchange for the 27th and 38th picks. While the Jazz under Dennis Lindsey/Justin Zanik have usually been active in trading up (see Donovan Mitchell, Tony Bradley, Rudy Gobert, Trey Burke) or buying into the second round (see Miye Oni, Jarrell Brantley, Raul Neto), this move is a new development, using the Jazz’s new connection in the Knicks office, former Jazz lead scout Walt Perrin.
ESPN Sources: The New York Knicks are moving up in Wednesday’s NBA Draft, acquiring the Utah Jazz’s pick at No. 23 for the 27th and 38th picks tonight. Knicks are now picking at Nos. 8 and No. 23. https://t.co/fjVHs85nY5— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 18, 2020
(Jazz fans may barely remember 2008 44th pick and All-Euroleague Center Ante Tomic, the draft and stash that for so long was the golden goose that SLCDunk never got. An inside joke? We may never know. Goodbye, sweet prince.)
I really like this move for the Jazz. There’s not too much of a difference between the 27th and 23rd pick (higher-upside prospects like Tyrese Maxey, Jalen Smith, and Precious Achiuwa were likely going to be off the board by then anyway), and there’s plenty of depth around the 38th pick. In a draft filled with a relatively lacking top end but tons of depth in the middle of the draft (especially with wings and forwards), the Jazz are doing the sensible thing to build up the bench with solid talent. I probably don’t need to remind you that the Jazz had the worst bench in the entire NBA until the late December trade for Jordan Clarkson. Doing this allows the Jazz another shot at finding a potentially excellent role player.
With the 27th pick, look for the Jazz to target some of the players we’ve covered here at SLCDunk, such as Malachi Flynn, Desmond Bane, Jaden McDaniels, and Leandro Bolmaro. If a prospect like Josh Green, Tyrell Terry or Aleksej Pokusevski slides, the Jazz can potentially snatch them up at 27 and still have another pick on the board. The 38th pick could definitely be prime targets for the sleepers we’ve covered as well, such as Paul Reed, Immanuel Quickley, Xavier Tillman, Ty-Shon Alexander, or Killian Tillie. Or maybe the Jazz go off the book (at least, compared to the players we’ve covered) and pick someone like Robert Woodard, Tyler Bey, Daniel Oturu, or Isaiah Joe who could all immediately contribute in a specific shooting and/or defense-focused role off the bench.
Another interesting note is the salary cap implications. With Donovan Mitchell’s rookie extension incoming and any potential deal with Rudy Gobert on the table approaching max/super-max territory, and the Jazz facing a salary cap crunch due to the impacts of COVID-19, the Jazz need to be as careful with salary as possible. The 38th pick lets the Jazz do that in a smart way:
38th pick lets Jazz fill a roster spot at the bare minimum of $898,310, which should help them navigate luxury tax while still using full MLE and possibly BAE too.— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) November 18, 2020
Also, with the Jazz at a full roster of 15 players (and 2 two-way contracts), and as much as we all love the players as people, this will mean some serious competition for roster spots, and/or saying goodbye to some of the players. Frankly, the Jazz may look to cut Ed Davis, Nigel Williams-Goss, Juwan Morgan, or Rayjon Tucker. Or, perhaps the Jazz use one of the picks on a draft-and-stash prospect. The possibilities are wide open.
In Lindsey and Zanik we trust!