All I can say is wow. Just wow. Utah is really going for it. If you haven’t read the details of the trade, go here first. Finished reading it and listening to the podcast? Good. Let’s begin with breaking down this trade and seeing why Utah should be considered an early favorite for the Western Conference representative in the NBA Finals.
The Utah Jazz have a big three and an even more important quality for a title run: DEPTH
While the Lakers mortgage their future—and their present—by killing themselves to bring another star to play with LeBron James while jettisoning what remaining players they have to get enough cap space to have a third star to pair with AD and LeBron James, the Utah Jazz brought a third star to Utah that gave up minimal depth. Out of the pieces that went out, Jae Crowder was the main player who could have seen major minutes for Utah next season. Kyle Korver is on the verge of retirement and this might hasten his decision making for next season as I don’t see him wanting to end his career playing on a developing lottery team. Grayson Allen had a big game at the end of the season against the
Aguas Caliente Los Angeles Clippers, but other than that, he didn’t show a lot of promise. He can be a strong role player but the jury is definitely out on him.
Utah is getting to keep the following players: Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Raul Neto, Derrick Favors, Georges Niang, Royce O’Neale, and Tony Bradley. They have terrific depth for next season.
The Utah Jazz retain the ability to use a ~$4MM Mid Level Exception in NBA Free Agency
[UPDATE: A previous version of this article stated Utah had $9MM for their MLE. They don’t because we were wrong. We apologize. But the Jazz still have Mike Conley, so WOOOOOOOOOO!]
This is huge. Utah can keep the ability to offer a $4MM mid level exception. This allows them to be big time players on the secondary free agent market as a good player on the verge of going to an okay team may choose to take less money to head to Utah to go ring hunting. The Western Conference is wide open and the players that are available for Utah at that MLE are Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, Rudy Gay, Trevor Ariza, Darren Collison, Terry Rozier, Terrence Ross, Jeremy Lamb, Robin Lopez, and Javale McGee.
The best defense in the league just got better
Mike Conley is no slouch on the defensive end. It’s crazy to say, but the Jazz’s defense just got better. They’re going to go to be a nightmare to play against every damn night. The Jazz can switch and match most teams if they’re able to get a budget stretch four in free agency like Mirotic or Ariza. Most importantly, they can match up to any team in the NBA. Lakers? You got Favors and Gobert who can put a wall on the paint and stop LeBron and Anthony Davis. Rockets? Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell are now running the show in the backcourt. Nuggets? Jazz still have Gobert and now better guards. Trail Blazers? CJ and Damian may I introduce you to a revolving guard lineup of Exum, O’Neale, Mitchell, and Conley?
This Utah Jazz team is designed to put a stop to any offense, but the defense FINALLY has some help!
One of the most scheme-able offenses just became a buzzsaw
What in Jerry Sloan’s blessed name will opposing defenses do now that they can’t use Ricky Rubio’s defender to spy on Joe Ingles, Donovan Mitchell, and Rudy Gobert 24/7? They’ll have to adjust. Defenses will have to stay glued to Mike Conley which will open up daylight for Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have never had the spacing they’re going to experience next year. Teams are going to have to play Donovan Mitchell 1 on 1. If they don’t it’s a wide open three for Joe Ingles or Mike Conley. If they play Donovan one on one, then there’s the Rudy Gobert alley oop play or Derrick Favors rocking the back door cut. This team has found a premier playmaker and all of Utah is going to look so much better on offense for it.
Dante Exum could be an insane X Factor
If Dante Exum is back healthy for real then this could be a coup. If not, his salary plus Favors can match a lot of other players. Think of Otto Porter or others that Utah could go aggressively for still.
Utah is not done
A lot of the players Utah has worked out could drop to the second round of the NBA Draft. Don’t be surprised if Utah tried to buy a pick to similar to Rudy Gobert in the late 1st round. Dennis Lindsey is wheeling and dealing.
That includes free agency. Utah still has a lot of tradable assets that could be moved. Dennis Lindsey is going all in and he’s not going to cut any corners.