ESPN's NBA Insiders recently discussed the NBA Free Agency moves we've seen so far in the Western Conference. As a Utah Jazz fan we've seen almost the inverse of the normal routine -- a quiet, or even subdued NBA Draft, but with much more activity during Free Agency. The backbone of both under the "Dennis Lindsey as General Manager" era of the Jazz seems to be turning empty cap space into something through the magic of trades. It's not quite spinning hay into gold, but I'll take it. Especially after the major reconstructive surgery this team has gone through over the last month. The Jazz have added "name" players to a very thin team, and made upgrades at every position macro-archetype (ball handlers, wings, and bigs).
As Jazz fans we like these moves. The ESPN Insiders seem to like them too. Here's a table showing what each Insider picked, and be sure to read the full post over here at their $ite.
|ESPN Insider Western Conference Free Agency Takes|
|Tom Haberstroh||Amin Elhassan||Bradford Doolittle||Jeremias Engelmann||Kevin Pelton|
|1||Best||Kevin Durant||GSW||Kevin Durant||GSW||Kevin Durant||GSW||Kevin Durant||GSW||Jared Dudley||PHX|
|2||Worst||Timofey Mozgov||LAL||Evan Turner||POR||Mike Conley | Evan Turner | Harrison Barnes||Chandler Parsons||MEM||Evan Turner||POR|
|3||Surprising||Chandler Parsons||MEM||Dirk Nowitzki||DAL||Luol Deng||LAL||Evan Turner||POR||Timofey Mozgov||LAL|
|4||Intriguing||Pau Gasol||SAS||Ryan Anderson||HOU||Joe Johnson||UTA||Pau Gasol||SAS||Pau Gasol||SAS|
|5||Under Radar||Zaza Pachulia||GSW||Joe Johnson | Boris Diaw||UTA||Jared Dudley||PHX||Zaza Pachulia||GSW||Joe Johnson||UTA|
The two extremes, "best deal" and "worst deal" do not include any Utah Jazz mentions. And I'm cool with that. But what the Jazz have done so far has piqued the interest of three of the five Insiders at least. The Johnson (UFA) signing is intriguing to one. And the general game plan by Lindsey was listed as an under the radar / impact move by two others.
"I'll go with Joe Johnson in the context of all of Utah's summer moves. The Jazz have done a tremendous job of addressing their three biggest needs: shooting, point guard play and veteran leadership. Johnson, along with George Hill and Boris Diaw, all check more than one of those boxes. That's a dangerous team."
"Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw (via trade) to Utah. They provide much-needed shooting and extra playmaking as well as deep experience to a young team that should have been in the playoffs last season but faltered down the stretch."
"In terms of playoff impact, let's say Utah agreeing to sign Joe Johnson for two years and $22 million. Johnson played key minutes for the Miami Heat in last year's postseason, and while the Jazz won't likely need him to play that big a role, some timely shots could make this signing meaningful in April or May."
Cool stuff! ESPN isn't the only media group saying nice thing about our team right about now. It's a strange feeling I haven't felt since, perhaps, 2007's off-season. And be sure to visit ESPN Insider for the full breakdown of the Western Conference's free agency period so far.