The Utah Jazz started off this off-season with close to $30 million dollars to spend. After a little over a week of NBA Free Agency the Jazz have made a number of moves (NBA Draft and NBA Trades) and look like they have a really solid team. As great as the moves were, the team still has $10 million under the cap. I needed to break it all down as the Jazz formalized adding George Hill and Joe Johnson. We'll hear about Boris Diaw when he gets back from the Olympics . . . so closer to training camp than not.
Nuts and Bolts:
I was able to get the details that I used for the following tables from a variety of sources: Basketball-Reference.com, RealGM.com, Basketball-Insiders.com, and of course, SBNation.com. Okay, before we go too deep into it, this is the Legend that we're using. It's simple, and if you get confused you can always scroll up.
One thing which I wanted to point out was the Contract Years -- which mean a lot to the players (and agents) who rely on them.
Position Group: Point Guards
- On the books: George Hill (Traded for); Dante Exum (Returning); Shelvin Mack (Returning); Raul Neto (Returning)
- Non-Guaranteed: --
- Assets: Marcus Paige (Drafted); Tyrone Wallace (Drafted)
Okay, we've had some changes here since the last time we looked at this. First of all, George Hill was traded for in a three team trade with the Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers; Trey Burke was traded away to the Washington Wizards; and the draft rights to Olivier Hanlan was traded to the San Antonio Spurs. Oh, and the Jazz also traded for the #52 pick (Marcus Paige), and didn't trade the #60 pick (Tyrone Wallace). Right now there are six point guards (down from eight), and four of them are on the books.
Yes, Shelvin Mack had his very affordable contract guaranteed -- it was non-guaranteed up until yesterday. I would have been okay if he was released because I think that Raul Neto is good enough to do whatever Shelvin can, but that decision is not up to me. At the very least Mack is a really easy contract to move.
Speaking of contracts, none of these players are really breaking the bank. Hill is on the final year of a four year contract that will pay him $8.000 million dollars. In a vacuum that looks huge. Compared to the actual salary cap it's only 8.5%, where we are now expecting that the 'average' starters salary will be around 15%. And it's the last year of that contract, so I don't know if he wants a raise. He could if he has a good season.
The rest of the point guards on the books are really cheap, but are all going to want raises too. The Jazz have a team option for Dante next season, and then in 2018-2019 he'll be playing in the first year of his new deal. If he deserves to make 10% of the cap then he'll be making $10.800 million that season. If he wants "average" that would be $16.200 million.
Mack is in a contract year, and hopefully he's not playing to the point where he wants 10% of the cap too, I know he's homies with Butler, but you shouldn't be reliant upon your third point guard to do anything. Neto should come cheaper, and has a non-guaranteed contract for the next season, while Mack doesn't. (Which is even more surprising why Mack was kept, but hey . . . not my decision.)
So there are two point guards in contract years, three if you think Neto is going to be playing for 29 other teams this season. And none of them are our 20 year old point guard who missed all of last season.
Position Group: Shooting Guards and Small Forwards
- On the books: Gordon Hayward (Returning); Joe Johnson (Free Agent); Rodney Hood (Returning); Alec Burks (Returning); Joe Ingles (Returning)
- Non-Guaranteed: Chris Johnson (Returning) [Not pictured above]
- Assets: Shan Foster (Retired)
THE UTAH JAZZ SIGNED A GOOD PLAYER IN FREE AGENCY! WHAT THE HECK! SERIOUSLY! Okay, sure, Joe Johnson is 35, but he is bringing 45k NBA minutes (regular season and playoffs combined) to the table. Johnson isn't just old, but he has experience. So there's that. He is taking a pay cut coming to Utah (he made over $23 million last year), so maybe he knows he'll get a good look to win the starting lineup? Maybe. I think he should start if we're starting our best players. If he doesn't and Hood starts that's cool too. Either way, our wings are way deeper than we've ever had in team history.
Johnson has a very easy contract (only about 12% of the cap), and it's a two year deal. Not bad. Not at all when you factor in that Gordon Hayward is very likely to opt out after this season. He is going to command the max (at 25% of the total cap), and he'll get at least four years at that rate (one more if he re-signs with Utah). What does that mean? That means it's likely to be a $102 million / 4 deal at the LOWEST. Hayward is going to be making 17% of the cap this year, so I really hope that he plays at least 9% better than last season if he's going to be the guy making 25% of all the possible money.
The year after Gordon's big deal Rodney Hood needs a raise. Is he going to command the "average" that we expect for a starter, 15%? If that's the case Hood is going to be earning that $16.200 million on average per season going forward. In that regard, Alec Burks' $11.537 million is a steal.
Joe Ingles brings up the rear as the 5th full-time wing, and he's really inexpensive. But he's not going to stand for $2 million a year every year going forward.
Chris Johnson, man, I don't know if he makes this team when Dante and Shelvin can play some wing, and Boris and Trey can as well. I do like the idea of six full-time wing players though, but I think that with his contract not being guaranteed until January -- so he's going to probably need to earn his spot in training camp.
Position Group: Power Forwards and Centers
- On the books: Derrick Favors (Returning); Rudy Gobert (Returning); Boris Diaw (Traded); Trey Lyles (Returning); Tibor Pleiss (Returning)
- Non-Guaranteed: Jeff Withey (Returning) [Not pictured above]
- Assets: Joel Bolomboy (Drafted); Ante Tomic (Spain); Mario Austin (Chile); Peter Fehse (Retired)
The Jazz made a trade for another experienced guy here, Boris Diaw, and he really isn't making the type of money that makes anyone worry, only 7.4% of the cap this year and he has a non-guaranteed deal for 7.4% of the cap the year after. I don't know if he's going to be the 6th man, or just the first big off the bench . . . or if he's going to not be in shape and not care . . . but he's a very cheap experiment no matter what.
It's likely that he's going to be backing up Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. Both of those guys are still on very affordable contracts and will be looking to make more going forward. Gobert is in a contract year, and he's the only bigman who is in a situation to really improve his living situation with a great season. With how much money bigs are getting (seriously, Lakers? Mozgov?) it's likely that Gobert is going to get offers between 20-25% of the cap going forward. For those keeping score, his raise will be in the same off-season as Hayward's raise. So that's 50% (possibly) going to two players. Will they be worth it? I don't know. But that's the game you have to (overpay) play when you are a small market team who can really only build through the draft.
Thankfully, Lyles is on the books for next season, and the Jazz have team options for him the next two seasons after that. He's not going to need a new contract until 2019-2020. The cap that season will be a crazy $109 million. Hopefully there will be enough money for him by then.
The 5th big is still up in the air for me. Tibor Pleiss is on the books this upcoming season for $3.000 million. Jeff Withey is making a third of that, but it's a non-guaranteed deal. (And like Christapher, his deal becomes guaranteed in January, so he'll have to work his way onto the team through training camp.) And then there's Joel Bolomboy who is a 2nd rounder and can be paid barely above free to play for the Jazz.
The Jazz are probably best served with Withey as the 5th big. Tibor has range but you really can't put him on the floor, he can't even set effective screens and he's going to turn 27 during this season. Bolomboy is young (22) and has upside, but he really needs a lot of minutes to develop. If he makes the Jazz they can pretty much park him all season with the Salt Lake City Stars. But neither of those guys are ready to step in for a playoff team and produce. I think Quin Snyder is likely to go Gobert, Favors, and then someone else at center. So this would be a situation where at best these guys are fighting for 12 minutes in the middle.
It's going to be interesting to see what happens in training camp between Withey, Pleiss, and Bolomboy. It's a shame that two are probably not going to make it -- because though they are all limited players, they do also bring something to the table.
2016-2017 Utah Jazz Roster as of July 8th, 2016:
I can't believe how much money the Jazz are on the books for . . . and how in the future there's so much more money yet to dole out. As it stands right now the Jazz are STILL $11.8 million under the cap (ignoring some cap holds). And if they boost their roster to 16 people and guaranteed Chris and Jeff's contracts they will still be only at $84.4 million when the minimum they need to spend is $84.7 million. (So yeah, need to add some more -- which is why it surprised me that Dennis Lindsey said that the team was done making moves until training camp.)
Overall, yeah, the Jazz have managed their cap well. And they needed to because they have a lot of guys on rookie deals (or in the case of Hayward and Favors, looking at their 3rd contracts) who need to get paid.
The Utah Jazz found a way to use their almost $30 million in cap space -- they found upgrades to each of their three macro-positions (point guards, wings, and bigs). George Hill, Joe Johnson, and Boris Diaw are probably better players than the Jazz could have gotten in the NBA Draft or on Free Agency on their own. Best of all, these vets have contracts that will expire in one or two seasons from now. Not bad. It's a gamble to try to keep Gordon Hayward (the primary focus of this season, it seems), and the team didn't really lose any of their young core to get these guys. It's been a crazy off-season so far. And I think there are more deals to make this season if the team wants to.
After all, they are STILL under the cap by double digits. Something else could happen still.