It’s now been a few weeks since Mike Conley’s last second shot rimmed out and put a period at the end of one of the most unique Jazz seasons in team history.
It’s now time to start looking forward and the Jazz have some decisions to make. Do they stick with what they had this season or do they make some moves that enhance specific strengths of the roster.
Most fans probably expect the Jazz to do very little, but what seems like a simple offseason is probably more complicated than it seems.
The major question the Jazz have to answer is what to do with Rudy Gobert. Gobert has one year left on his contract but is eligible for a supermax extension. It’s not clear if the Jazz want to offer that but Gobert is surely going to want it. We’ll definitely be talking about the Gobert question more as the offseason goes on but there’s another question the Jazz need to answer.
When are the Jazz going to give the reigns to the offense to Donovan Mitchell?
If there is one silver lining from this playoffs, it’s how good Donovan Mitchell played as the main playmaker on the team. While Mike Conley was out for the first two games of the series, Mitchell showed an ability to create his own shot while dishing the ball to his teammates.
Not only did Mitchell show the playmaking ability necessary, it also showed the benefits of having bigger, longer, athletic players surrounding him on the defensive end. A lot of Utah’s defensive issues came from a lack of size on the perimeter as well as a minus defender in Bojan Bogdanovic and an aging Joe Ingles playing major minutes.
The more you look at the Jazz roster, the more it’s clear they need to consider adjusting things.
Utah is also going to give Donovan Mitchell a max contract. It’s time to also give him their trust with the team.
With that in mind, let’s look at some possible trade ideas that would give the reigns to Mitchell.
And before you tell me how portly and unbecoming my appearance is in the comments, it’s obvious that it’s not likely any of these happen. But they show some options for Utah to give Mitchell some weapons to work with.
Also, it’s fun okay!
Trade 1. Mike Conley for Tobias Harris
Harris’ contract has looked like one of the most untradable contracts in the league. If the Jazz want to add another combo forward, Harris might be available because of the tricky cap situation for Philadelphia.
Getting Harris from the Sixers gives the Jazz a big wing that can fit into the 4-spot more comfortably than Bogdanovic did last season. Swapping out Conley for Harris also provides the size the Jazz need to fill lanes on the defensive end.
For Philadelphia it helps them in two ways. It gives them the high-level guard they’ve been looking for that can spread the floor and feed Joel Embiid the ball. It also provides them an expiring contract to use if they need to find cap relief after next season.
They’ll also be able to see if having a high-level guard that either fixes the awkward fit of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, or helps them decide which player they should trade if they decide that duo doesn’t work.
Trade 2. Mike Conley for Blake Griffin
If the Jazz sign Rudy Gobert, and they want to fix some of their problems with rebounding and size, Blake Griffin could be a nice fit.
One of Griffin’s biggest strengths is his ability to handle the ball. He’d be a perfect fit as a secondary ball-handler that could play off of Mitchell. A Blake Griffin/Rudy Gobert pick and roll would be a lot of fun and could provide serious problems for opposing small-ball lineups.
For Detroit they get an expiring contract and a proven high level player that could help some of their young talent develop. Right now the Pistons’ are in no man’s land? They didn’t make the playoffs this year and they’re not bad enough to get a good pick in the draft. They need to pick a direction and this could be the move that gets that started.
Conley would also be an expiring contract for them on top of relieving them of an albatross of a contract for Griffin. At some point in the season they can also trade Conley to a contender looking for a final piece.
Trade 3. Mike Conley for Chris Paul
In this scenario the Jazz deliberately ignore me and look for an upgrade to Mike Conley. Chris Paul was an all-nba guard this season and led the Thunder farther than anyone expected with the talent on their roster.
What has seemed like a big contract has actually looked really good the last few seasons. Paul is a proven lead guard that can take a team to another level. He accepts nothing but the best effort from everyone on his team and he lets them know that on every single possession. That can be grating at times but it can also be the thing that gets a team to give even more than they knew they could. Could Paul be the player that gets the Jazz over the hump?
For Oklahoma City this gives them a chance to begin their rebuild. They took a king’s ransom from the Clippers for Paul George and they can start building around a proven core piece in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Because of Paul’s impressive play, they likely require picks from Utah for this to happen.
Trade 4. Mike Conley for Otto Porter Jr.
This is probably my favorite of the trade possibilities. Both of these players are on expiring deals and because of Porter’s injury history, Chicago may be willing to move on from the 6’8” wing/forward.
Chicago also has a lot of young talent and bringing on Conley can do two things for them. The first is it can help them see just how good their young players are, such as Lauri Markkanen and Wendel Carter Jr., when being led by a proven all-star caliber point guard. Conley can also be the guard that helps set up Zach Lavine and can also mentor Coby White.
Utah would then get a proven wing that can play the four and do the thing Dennis Lindsey has asked for, provide length and defense without sacrificing spacing.
Utah has already been active hiring a new assistant coach and player development coach, maybe they’ll be just as active in player movement. One things for sure, Utah needs to find a way to continue improving the team because staying pat with aging core players isn’t likely to do much more next season than it did this one.