The Utah Jazz have had one heck of a summer. One of the best in the league, in my opinion. Just the blockbuster trade for Mike Conley would have been a big improvement heading into next season, but the front office wasn’t done there. They also made a splash on day 1 of free agency by bringing in Bojan Bogdanovic. That was a big time move for a small market team like the Jazz.
Was it the biggest free agent signing in franchise history? I think it’s easily in the top 3.
Keep in mind, I am referring to production prior to joining the Jazz and not after. Otherwise a guy like Mehmet Okur would be high on the list as well. Personally, I think Bojan’s biggest competitors for the top spot are Carlos Boozer and Joe Johnson.
It’s easy to make a case that Booz was the biggest free agent acquisition for Utah. The interesting and controversial circumstances with Cleveland aside, this was a big get for the Jazz. Boozer was coming off just his 2nd year in the league, and had great numbers for the Cavs. As their starting power forward, he averaged a double double with 15.5 points and 11.4 rebounds. He also added 2 assists, 1 steal, and 0.7 blocks. His advanced stats were equally impressive: 113 ORtg, 101 DRtg, 2.3 BPM, 9.4 WS, and a TS% of 56.7%.
The Jazz gave him a massive 6-year 70.2 million dollar contract. This was back in 2004, which means he was taking up 25% of the cap. It worked out well for Utah, as Boozer made 2 All Star appearances and a trip to the Western Conference finals. At that point, he was easily the biggest signing in Utah Jazz history.
Was Joe Johnson past his prime? Obviously. But was he done getting buckets? Absolutely not. The 7-time All Star was still a well-known name throughout the league due to his very successful career. Prior to coming to Utah, he was coming off a very good year in Miami. He averaged 13,4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. He was also a knockdown shooter, connecting on almost 42% of his 3 point attempts. His advanced stats looked great for his role as well: 114 ORtg, 108 DRtg, 0.8 BPM, 3.8 WS, 60.3 TS%. He was a sought-after free agent for any team looking to get to the playoffs and contend.
And he chose to come to Utah. I still remember being so surprised by the move for both parties. I was shocked he decided to play for the Jazz and surprised that Dennis Lindsey had him on his radar. The Jazz payed a premium for the aging, previous star by giving him 22 million over two years. That too payed off, as Joe Johnson played a vital role throughout the year. But no moment in that season was bigger than his game winner to end the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. That felt like a shift in Utah’s free agency chances moving forward.
And now to Bojan. Similar to a previous player that shall remain nameless, Bogdanovic has improved every year he’s been in the league. This culminated in a career year for the Indiana Pacers last season. He put up big numbers for a playoff team, and his efficiency didn’t take a hit after he became the primary offensive weapon. He averaged 18 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.0 assists on 49.7/42.5/80.7 splits. That’s an incredible piece for the Jazz to be adding to Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Advanced: 114 ORtg, 110 DRtg, 6.8 WS, 61.3 TS%, 36.7 3PAr. After Oladipo’s injury, he averaged 20.7 points and still shot 50+ from the field and 40+ from 3.
Bogdanovic was a top 15 free agent in one of the best free agent classes of all time. He is comfortably in the top 3 free agent signings in Jazz history. Personally, I think it’s between him and Boozer. Given the situation this offseason with a TON of money teams had to throw around, I think getting him to come to Utah was the biggest free agency win Utah’s ever had. Boozer was probably the better player, but Bogdanovic was a bigger get. Let’s hope this signing pays off better than any previous one before him as well.