Under General Manager Dennis Lindsey, the Utah Jazz have accepted the fate that they'll never really be big players in NBA Free Agency. They've embraced the draft, and maximized their ability to stagger both extending players coming off their rookie deals with their ability to retain value and talent on rookie deals. It's how you have to play this game, and it's not a flashy game. Sure, the Utah jazz didn't bag them a prize top tier free agent like , , or DeAndre Jordan. And yeah, they did make any crazy trades nor were they forced to cut one of their franchise cornerstones -- the and did that. And sure, they didn't hit a home run out of the draft, but they also didn't have to worry about any restricted free agents signing with other teams. (Keep trolling Portland Trail Blazers) The jazz didn't make many headlines this off-season. But they did make a very tidy sequence of strong moves.
Dennis Lindsey has brought a change of strategy to the Jazz, replacing overt intentions like checkers with the more planning-based game of chess. And while other teams spent this summer going out and trying to capture each other's King, the Jazz brass are on the verge of quite a number of pawn promotions. Basically, the team is getting better. And in a season or two, this team will have more talent then Quin Snyder will know what to do with.
But for the here and now, this is what the Jazz have done since the NBA Draft:
- Confirmed the full, remaining contract of
- Signed lotto pick Trey Lyles
- Signed former draft and stash guy Raulzinho Neto
- Signed waiver-wire steal
- on verge of signing draft and stash guy Tibor Pleiß
That's one heck of a bench unit, all quietly brought together. Quietly. Adding / retaining those five guys to two of, , and makes this small bench of pawns one that's going to grow and promote into real headaches for the other team. So then, what's the cap situation like? I'm glad you asked . . .
(Click that to embiggen your
heart cap knowledge)
- Purple T cells = Team options
- Blue P cells = Player's options
- Green Q cells = Qualifying offers, these do not count on the cap, nor are they on contract
- Red N cells = Non-guaranteed contracts. these are also not "on the books" in my mind
So, long story slightly less long, the Jazz have $9.8 million under the cap. Thankfully, it's only $2.8 million under the 90% minimum cap salary. And yes, that remainder can be spread out over the current players on the roster, there is no NEED to sign anyone else now that we have 13 players. The Jazz can though. If you add all of the non-guaranteed guys the team is still under the cap, but would then have 18 players. And well, you can't have 18. You can only have 15. So someone would have to be cut.
Anyway, we all have our favorites. But right now this is what the depth chart looks like:
- PGs: Olivier Hanlan) , Trey Burke, , ( ), (
- SGs: Alec Burks, Joe Ingles, ( )
- SFs: , Rodney Hood, ( )
- PFs: , Trevor Booker, Trey Lyes, , ( )
- Cs: ,
With only two roster spots left, and the doctrine of trying to keep at least one open for emergencies, we find ourselves with five guys going for one job. The solution in my mind is to eat Grant's contract up, and then have it be an issue where five guys are going for two jobs. That's a little more humane.
Dennis Lindsey and others in the Jazz brass are on the media campaign to accept the idea that keeping four point guards is a good thing, and something the Jazz wouldn't be against. Bryce Cotton has really shown that he's an NBA player over the last two weeks. It would be awesome if the Jazz could keep him; however, he may not get the time, exposure, or experience he desires if he has to be part of this point guard foursome.
I do believe that you need some extra help at the wing. In a perfect world Elijah Millsap would have really improved on his shot -- something we wouldn't know, but the team would -- and he makes a clear case for himself as a "Three and D" guy. The other, in a perfect world. would be if 6'4 Hanlan actually played well. He can put up spot minutes at point guard and shooting guard (something none of the guys at non-guaranteed PG and non-guaranteed SG can do). His versatility would have been a feature in his cap. Instead, in the little time we fans have seen him (the brass has actually seen him in drills and practices) he looks like both point guard and shooting guard are his secondary positions. (Effectively this bilingual combo guard has two second languages on the court.) So Hanlan has an uphill climb here.
But no one has it harder than Cooley, who has worked his butt off all summer long; yet is behind Favors, Gobert, Booker, and Lyles, and is fighting off a 7'3 guy with 9 years of pro-ball experience for a shot at making the team. That's brutal.
At the end of the day if the Jazz choose to keep any of Cotton, Hanlan, Millsap, Johnson, and Cooley I am fine with it. I'm even okay with keeping Jerrett for another year (or half a year). I trust Dennis Lindsey. I know Quin Synder is an excellent head coach. I think the Jazz are in great hands. And I also know that they are still really under the cap.
it's a good place to be . . . it's like being two forward moves away from being promoted in chess.