The Utah Jazz (24-16) are currently tied for first in the Northwest Division and tied for 5th in the Western Conference. The NBA Playoffs look like more than just a possibility this year, but every week brings Dennis Lindsey’s club closer to locking in one of the middle seeds. While the #3 seed is too far away, anything after is up for grabs.
In conventional years having a lot of players in contract years, and having both cap space and draft picks, means almost anyone on your roster is up for grabs as well. Gordon Hayward (likely opting out of his last year at $16.7 million) and George Hill headline a cast of guys looking for a new deal after 82 games are up — and it includes rotation cast members like Shelvin Mack, Joe Ingles, and Rudy Gobert insurance Jeff Withey. Boris Diaw and Raul Neto are on partially guaranteed deals for 2017-2018 as well. Will the Utah Jazz have money enough to pay everyone — including an extension for Derrick Favors — or will something have to be done?
The NBA’s trade deadline is in 43 days (for reals), so let’s take a look at the Jazz’ situation:
Utah is pretty deep, but still the question remains if they have any superstar who the refs will respect come playoff time. I don’t think there’s a need to move anyone, but I know that Lindsey will listen to offers. Derrick Favors is improving his versatility by being a PF/C in this era who still has back-to-the-basket offensive skills and an ability to hit spot up jumpers. I think lots of teams could use someone like him even if he’s not the floor spacer archetype that some other “bigmen” are today.
I don’t know how much trade value some of our players have, mainly because they are coming off of - or continue to be hindered by - injuries. Alec Burks isn’t all put back together yet and Dante Exum hasn’t seen the floor in days. Some teams may want to jump on an opportunity to get a 24 or 21 year old guard despite their injury history.
Personally I’d love to see Shelvin Mack go so that Raul Neto has some playing time in the pros, but we all know that’s not going to happen. The former college teammate of Gordon Hayward (the team’s best player) and teacher’s pet of Quin Snyder (the head coach) isn’t going anywhere.
With the way he’s shooting, defending, and willing this team to some wins it’s hard not to imagine a world where people ask about Joe Ingles. But he’s really not leaving Utah anytime soon if the Jazz brass can help it.
And I don’t think Utah makes any moves this year. They have 15 spots all filled up and don’t need to hold onto cap space for lotto picks anymore. Unless someone better than Gordon is available (that they can get without moving Gordon) I don’t see Lindsey pulling that trigger.