After trading for Mike Conley the Jazz were faced with a variety of choices in free agency. Bringing on a player of Conley’s caliber came with a big contract. That meant that bringing on a max level player was possible, but would mean some difficult trades might be necessary.
One of the reported connections for the Jazz was with Tobias Harris. Personally, I felt like bringing on Harris would be the best possible outcome for Utah. He fit a position of need and provided a skill set the Jazz were desperate for: shooting.
As free agency moved along two free agency decisions were made that shaped what the Jazz would do and who they would pursue.
One of those was Jimmy Butler’s decision with Philadelphia. The Sixers were looking at a historic cap hit if they brought back all three of Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Reddick. If Butler chose to stay in Philadelphia, there would have been a real chance that Utah could pursue and sign Harris.
As free agency opened JJ Reddick immediately signed with New Orleans.
Free agent guard JJ Redick has agreed to a two-year, $26.5M deal to join the New Orleans Pelicans, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Shortly after Jimmy Butler announced his decision that he would go to Miami which led to a sign and trade that brought on Josh Richardson.
Miami is finalizing a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia to acquire Jimmy Butler, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
It was reported that Utah had serious interest in Nikola Mirotic as they entered free agency. It seemed like a smart move for Utah, who had had interest in Mirotic for multiple seasons, to fill their need for shooting from the 4-spot. But as free agency began, Utah was blindsided by a surprise decision by Mirotic.
Utah had major interest in signing Nikola Mirotic to a three-year deal in the $45 million range, league sources say, but Mirotic was apparently determined to make a total change and return to @EuroLeague life— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 29, 2019
At this point it was vital the Jazz find that piece that could provide the shooting they needed at the four-spot. Luckily for Jazz fans Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik aren’t reactionary. Having multiple game plans to improve the team, the Jazz went for their next best option, Bojan Bogdanovic.
And after all is said and done it looks like it was the best possible route they could take. Also, considering the difference between what is leaked and reported versus what was actually happening, it may have been the Jazz’s primary target all along.
When you look at the numbers that seems like a real possibility.
If you compare Bojan Bogdanovic’s production last year to that of Tobias Harris, it’s surprising.
Because Harris’s numbers took a dip when he went to Philadelphia, something that’s common for players traded mid season, it’s a good idea to compare the numbers from the season before when Harris had a career year. Even doing that it’s impressive how good Bogdanovic looks in comparison.
Bogdanovic is remarkably similar to Tobias Harris in almost every category. And he’s actually superior in every shooting category, the thing the Jazz needed most.
Things look even better when you consider the contract for Bogdanovic compared to Harris.
Indiana's Bojan Bogdanovic has agreed to a four-year, $73M deal with the Utah Jazz, league sources tells EPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Free agent forward Tobias Harris has agreed to a five-year, $180M contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, his agent and father, Torrel Harris of Unique Sports Management, tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Bogdanovic will make, on average, 18 million per season compared to 36 million per season for Harris.
That means the Jazz got the same production, if not better, for half the price.
On top of that it meant the Jazz were able to hold on to all of their core pieces. Signing Bogdanovic ensured that core players like Joe Ingles, Dante Exum, Royce O’neale and Georges Niang would be on the team next season.
It’s the move that took the Jazz from a playoff team to title contender.
This doesn’t mean that the Jazz don’t have questions still. Harris has played significant minutes at the 4-spot and it wouldn’t have been a question if he could play that position. Is it a sure thing that Bogdanovic can play minutes at the 4? Will the Jazz have a hole at that position?
Those are real concerns, but if anyone can figure things out it’s Quin Snyder. And after the dust settles this upcoming season, it’s very likely we look back at this free agency signing as the thing that took the Jazz over the top.