If you’re an NBA team making trades in the beginning of December, something with your season plan has gone awry. Last year was a prime example as the Utah Jazz bailed on “continuity” and brought in Kyle Korver to shake it up while providing much needed floor spacing. This season, the Jazz’s bench ranks second to last when it comes to points per game (24.8 points), third to last in rebounds per game (13.9), and is playing the third to last least amount of minutes (16.0). With Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic in their 30s, that’s not a recipe for any contending team hoping to stay fresh for the playoffs. Could Utah be looking to do the same thing two years in a row?
It helps if we breakdown why would Utah even go to the trade market at this point. If Utah is looking via trade, it’s not just a verdict on Ed Davis’ health until the end of December, it’s an indictment on their bench production as a whole.
So where could Utah go to?
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
The evergreen Utah Jazz target, Utah could package Dante Exum and Ed Davis together to bring back Aaron Gordon. Gordon is currently having a down year only averaging 14 points and 6.3 rebounds a game in Orlando. His shooting numbers are down and the Who knows if he’s even in That deal could allow Utah to move Royce O’Neale back to the bench or use Gordon as a scorer off the bench for the Jazz. Utah would still need to scour the free agent market for a big—ahem, Joakim Noah—and then move Bradley back to third big role. This trade becomes difficult when Orlando wants more draft picks (Utah is limited), and if Orlando is no longer interested in another guard because they have Markelle Fultz now. This type of trade is more folly and pipe dream than possibility.
If Utah did not want to part with Ed Davis, this trade becomes extremely tricky. It could work if Utah sends out Dante Exum, Jeff Green, Nigel Williams-Goss, Georges Niang, Tony Bradley, AND Stanton Kidd. It would put Utah well under the limit for players which Utah could fix by signing Jarrell Brantley and Justin Wright-Foreman to contracts for the rest of the year. This trade can’t happen until December 15th and, honestly, who in the world has any idea what Orlando wants with their roster?
I can’t see a deal like this going down unless Utah were to part with a significant asset like Joe Ingles or Royce O’Neale which may very well be a non-starter for the Jazz currently. But if Ingles continues to struggle, who knows? But Ingles cannot be traded until January 19th due to his extension.
Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder
When in doubt, look to the dregs of the NBA for help. OKC is most certainly in rebuild mode—or they are just flat out lying to themselves. Danilo Gallinari would be a fantastic target and he has plenty of playoff experience. He is averaging 19 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 44% from three. A lineup of Conley, Mitchell, Bogey, Gallo, and Gobert would be a wrecking ball.
This trade would require sending out quite a bit of talent. Dante Exum, Ed Davis, Georges Niang, Nigel Williams-Goss, and Stanton Kidd. Jazz would have to send a draft pick as well, but OKC gets Exum who they can pair with their other young guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. OKC could then move Ed Davis closer to the trade deadline to a playoff wanting team.
A combination of Mudiay, Joe Ingles, Jeff Green, and Danilo Gallinari coming off the bench would be very potent. The Jazz could add a free agent big like Joakim Noah to replace the loss of Ed Davis.
Taj Gibson or Bobby Portis, New York Knicks
Death, taxes, and the New York Knicks not having a clue what they’re doing with their roster, general management, or overall direction of their team. Their big man loaded team is perfect for the taking for teams like Utah who could be looking for an upgrade at the four or backup 5 off the bench. A guy like Bobby Portis—who Utah had significant interest in during free agency—could allow Utah to have a stretch four off the bench who is a top shelf rebounder. Utah could even grab Taj Gibson as well in a deal if they were to send over Ed Davis, Dante Exum, Georges Niang, Tony Bradley, and Stanton Kidd. Who knows if that would be enough for the Knicks who literally have no direction or leadership in their front office. Getting into a trade with them could be as rudderless as trade negotiations with the Memphis Grizzlies last trade deadline.
Cody Zeller or Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets
If Utah just needs a more plug and play stretch big, the rebuilding Charlotte Hornets could prove to be a good trade partner. Marvin Williams has been in Utah before—albeit under a more less regarded regime. Marvin Williams would be a great veteran presence off the bench and would provide a more consistent option than Jeff Green.
Cody Zeller, who was an afterthought to Charlotte, is averaging 13 points and 9 rebounds while shooting 35% from three. He’s an intriguing trade candidate, but I’m not sure he’s someone Charlotte may be willing to part with now that he’s showing this display of abilities.
Either one of these could be obtained if Utah were to part with Dante Exum and Jeff Green. But is that the kind of upgrade Utah would want to see for that type of collateral?
Andre Iguodala, Memphis Grizzlies
Could Utah go back to the Tennessee well for another veteran player? Memphis is holding that Iguodala contract out to contending teams as they know they can get quite the haul for such a versatile player of his ability. That includes a team like the Utah Jazz. The Memphis Grizzlies are most likely waiting until December 15th when most of the NBA’s rosters are available to be traded. Utah could move Dante Exum, Jeff Green, and Nigel Williams-Goss for Andre Iguodala.
Last year AI averaged 5.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 23 minutes a game. He’s still a strong defensive stopper and would fit Utah’s defensive identity. But it’s okay to question how much he has left in the tank. He turns 36 in January. It’s very possible the value any team gives up for Iggy will not equal the production they get from Iggy.
I wanted to put Robert Covington in here, but the T-Wolves are seeing success. That could change by the end of December—after all the Grizzlies were above .500 at this time last season. But he’s definitely someone Utah could have their eye on and is a favorite pairing for Utah of Zach Lowe’s. If the San Antonio Spurs continue to struggle, it will be a situation to monitor, especially considering Dennis Lindsey and Quin Snyder’s ties to the Texas organization.
One potential situation to monitor as well will be Joe Ingles’ struggles. He has a good size contract and if he continues to struggle, his contract combined with Dante Exum’s, can match a good sized near all-star player’s contract. Combined with draft picks, it could prove interesting. Utah is in full win mode for a championship, so if things start going awry with expectations, expect Justin Zanik to get aggressive. He’s already shown a willingness to be aggressive in free agency and in the trade market. I don’t expect anything different from Zanik midseason as he does everything in his power to keep Utah on target for championship contention.