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NBA Free Agency 2014: Will agents make a difference in Utah?

The Jazz organization are a family run business. Players used to negotiate their contracts with a handshake. Those days are over now. With free agency looming will agents make a difference?

Okay, let's set the scene here -- the Utah Jazz have money to spend this off-season. Many teams will be in that situation this year. Last year it was kind of the same, and the Jazz elected to use their cap space on, what was it again? Flexibility? Well, they more evocatively used it on a salary dump taking the trash from the playoff bound Golden State Warriors for a few picks down the line. That's not to say it wasn't fun having Richard Jefferson ($11m), Andris Biedrins ($9m), and Brandon Rush ($4m) around. Biedrins should have been a source of memes this year. Rush was great at annoying Rudy Gobert. And Jefferson was great at starting this year and making sure we lost games. He also hit threes. But then again, Steve Novak hits threes too. He's not worth $11 million though.

The Jazz will have to make a few decisions on players this year. Jefferson, and Rush will be Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) this off-season. Joining them will be the other starting forward for the Jazz, Marvin Williams ($7.5m). The biggest piece of the Jazz free agency puzzle will be Gordon Hayward, a Restricted Free Agent (RFA). If you are reading this you know that means Hayward and his people can flirt with other teams, but the Jazz hold the right to match the offer. (N.B. I'm assuming guys like JLIII and Diante are going to have their second years picked up)

But it's not just a decision of the players and the teams anymore. The agents appear to have a say now. (Who guessed that was the case?) So let's take a look at our team and who represents them:

Player Pos Agent Agency
1 Alec Burks 2 1 Andy Miller ASM Sports
2 Andris Biedrins UFA 5 Bill Duffy, Rade Filipovich BDA Sports Management
3 Ian Clark 2 1 David Mondress BDA Sports Management
4 Rudy Gobert 5 Bouna Ndiaye Comsport
5 Malcolm Thomas 4 3 Brian Elfus Impact Sports Basketball
6 John Lucas III 1 2 Bernie Lee Lee Basketball Services LTD
7 Derrick Favors 5 4 Wallace Prather Perennial
8 Brandon Rush UFA 2 3 Mark Bartelstein, Reggie Brown Priority Sports & Entertainment
9 Gordon Hayward RFA 3 2 Mark Bartelstein, Brad Ames Priority Sports & Entertainment
10 Jeremy Evans 4 Mark Bartelstein Priority Sports & Entertainment
11 Marvin Williams UFA 3 4 Jim Tanner Tandem Sports and Entertianment
12 Diante Garrett 1 2 Arn Tellem, B.J. Armstrong Wasserman Media Group
13 Enes Kanter 4 5 Max Ergul
14 Richard Jefferson UFA 3 Todd Eley
15 Trey Burke 1 Benji Burke

There's some congruence here. Bartelstein has some sway here, it would appear. Two of our free agents are under his agency, with a third currently on contract. BDA also has two players, but only one is a free agent, the other has a non-guaranteed second year. But they are handled by different agents. The question is: how busy are these agents going to be this off-season?

Well . . .

Mark Bartelstein:

He runs things and has secondary agents handling things for him more directly. But I am sure that he's going to be busy enough this off-season. There are 37 players currently in the NBA under his banner, and that doesn't include the bunch of NCAA players who will quickly sign on with him after the season is done. And 17 of the 37 current players are set to be free agents this off-season. His big ticket guys right now are David Lee, Taj Gibson, Jose Calderon, and Carl Landry. His other former Jazz players are Mo Williams, DeMarre Carrol, and Earl Watson. It could be likely that his two biggest free agents this off-season, Gordon Hayward and Brandon Rush, could also move away from Utah. He doesn't have a high Utah retention rate. His other big FAs this off-season will be Shannon Brown, Kwame Brown, Jason Smith, and Earl Watson. But there's no bigger guy to worry about than Gordon Hayward.

Mark will look to make his highest commission this off-seasin with G-Time, and he will be a priority. And he (Mark) has made a lot of money by getting guys deals with other teams -- just not ours.

Jim Tanner:

Jim only has 12 guys under his watch, and half of them are free agents this off-season. His meal ticket is Tim Duncan. But he's secured for a while. The main guys who are free agents are Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Marvin Williams and Hedo Turkoglu. He's clearly more ingrained into what's happening in Florida (and especially the Miami Heat) than anywhere else right now. Luke Ridnour is also one of the guys he has to get a contract for. Marvin did sign a big deal that is expiring right now. Is he likely to get $7.5 million again? If Tanner is really good he will. But more than anything else it looks like Jim will be focused on other guys this off-season before getting around to Marvin. Unless, and this is the most likely thing ever, the Jazz will fall over themselves trying to get Marvin signed long-term early in July.

Marvin is likely to get the next Matt Harpring "over the hill, UFA, Golden Handshake" contract. I love Marvin, but I don't love Marvin for more than $5 million a year. And that's really pushing it. If Tanner demands "starting NBA power forward money" then we need to move on.

Todd Eley:

Todd only has two clients, Richard Jefferson and Carrick Felix. Both are free agents this year. Todd's going to be working the phones all off-season long and will do his best to get RJ as much money and security as possible. Mark B may have more money on the line, but no one will put the heat on as much as Todd will. He has the most of himself to put into just one free agent.

Bill Duffy:

Duffy has 20 clients in the NBA, and six of them will be free agents this off-season. His major meal tickets are Joakim Noah, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash, and, somehow, Andris Biedrins. The FAs he has to worry about are Biedrins, Luke Babbit, Matthew Dellavedova, Brandon Davies, and others of that ilk. Andris is his biggest ticket on the market, but it's more likely that Duffy will be more worried about Rondo and possible trades than trying to get AB another big contract.

But I could be wrong. Biedrins has the least exposure this season. It'll be hard to come back from being a virtual no-show all season long.

What about the Jazz?

Well, let's take a look at the last few years of Jazz basketball and who we've had come and go. And more importantly, who represented them:

Player Pos Agent Agency
1 Eric Maynor 1 Andy Miller, Andrew Vye ASM Sports
2 Paul Millsap 4 3 DeAngelo Simmons BDS Sports
3 Francisco Elson 5 Calvin Andrews Creative Artists Agency
4 Kevin Murphy 2 3 Ty Sullivan Creative Artists Agency
5 Randy Foye 2 Steve Heumann Creative Artists Agency
6 Ronnie Brewer 2 3 Henry Thomas Creative Artists Agency
7 Andrei Kirilenko 4 3 Marc Fleisher Entersport
8 Mehmet Okur 5 4 Marc Fleisher Entersport
9 Al Jefferson 5 4 Jeff Schwartz Excel Sports Agency
10 Deron Williams 1 2 Jeff Schwartz Excel Sports Agency
11 Devin Harris 1 2 Jeff Schwartz Excel Sports Agency
12 Kyle Korver 2 3 Jeff Schwartz Excel Sports Agency
13 Ronnie Price 1 2 Mike Higgins Excel Sports Agency
14 Jamaal Tinsley 1 Raymond Brothers IAM Sports
15 Raja Bell 2 Herb Rudoy Interperformances
16 Carlos Boozer 4 Rob Pelinka Landmark Sports Agency
17 Derek Fisher 1 2 Rob Pelinka Landmark Sports Agency
18 Kosta Koufos 5 4 Mark Termini Mark Termini Associates
19 Wesley Matthews 2 3 Jeff Austin Octagon Athlete Representation
20 DeMarre Carroll 3 Mark Bartelstein Priority Sports & Entertainment
21 Earl Watson 1 Mark Bartelstein Priority Sports & Entertainment
22 Louis Amunson 4 5 Mark Bartelstein Priority Sports & Entertainment
23 Mo Williams 1 Mark Bartelstein, Reggie Brown Priority Sports & Entertainment
24 Sundiata Gaines 1 2 Matt Brown Strategic Sports
25 DeShawn Stevenson 2 Arn Tellem, Darren Matsubara Wasserman Media Group
26 Kris Humphries 4 5 Arn Tellem, Darren Matsubara Wasserman Media Group
27 Blake Ahearn 1
28 Brevin Knight 1 Retired
29 C.J. Miles 2 3 Billy Ceisler
30 Dee Brown 1
31 Gordan Giricek 2 3 Retired
32 Jarron Collins 5 4 Retired
33 Jason Hart 1 Retired
34 Josh Howard 3 Derek Lafayette
35 Kyle Weaver 2 1
36 Kyrylo Fesenko 5
37 Marcus Cousin 4 5
38 Matt Harpring 3 2 Retired
39 Mike Harris 3 4
40 Morris Almond 2
41 Rafael Araujo 5

I think it's clear that Mark has represented a lot of Jazz players over the years, and gives him an 'edge' in negotiations. Why? Well, because the majority of them are now 'ex-Jazz players'. Creative and Excel also show up big here. But there's no big pattern. Well, beyond the one that a lot of older guys sign on or are traded here, don't unpack their bags, and are gone in a matter of seasons.

There's a revolving door of over-the-hill vets in Utah. But they know under Tyrone Corbin they'll get a chance to play, or even start. That, besides losing, is the culture of our franchise right now. We're the clean living, detox that some of these guys need before signing on for bigger bucks in a bigger city.

As a result I feel that the agents may have something to do with who we end up with, if not through overt free agent signings -- but instead in sign and trade deals. If the agents are going to have an impact I think it will be there. After all, the Jazz don't have leverage right now because so many teams are going to have cap space this off-season. And in terms of trying to 'get one over on an agent' it's not going to happen this season.

In the case of Hayward, it's a saving grace that he's a RFA this year. Other teams have cap space, we may be willing to over-pay to keep him. It's also a saving grace that 17 of the 37 players under Bartelstein are free agents this year.

No matter what happens, G-Time is going to get a pay-day. Even if he's shooting poorly. And in terms of our free agency strategy he seems to be the player we'll build the rest of our off-season around. (N.B. Draft comes first, so I'm assuming that the draft will fully influence free agency.)