The NBA trade deadline of March 25th is fast approaching. The Utah Jazz have been pretty active in recent years, most notably bringing on Jordan Clarkson last season (although not truly at the deadline). Let’s take a quick look at the past few years of Jazz mid-season trades:
- 2020 - Dante Exum and two 2nd rounders for Jordan Clarkson
- 2018 - Joe Johnson and Rodney Hood for Jae Crowder
- 2016 - 2nd round pick for Shelvin Mack
- 2015 - Enes Kanter and Steve Novak for 1st rounder and Tibor Pleiss
Dennis Lindsey and now Justin Zanik have not been afraid to shake things up right at or near the trade deadline. Sometimes that has been absolutely necessary due to a player demand. But sometimes it was to try and fill a hole for a competing team.
But what about this season? The Utah Jazz currently find themselves with the best record in the NBA. They have championship aspirations and things have been going really well. Should they avoid rocking the boat and ride this out? Or should they be looking for that potential last piece to help put them over the top?
I decided to look into the past 10 years of NBA Finals teams and see how often they made a move near the trade deadline. I was curious if continuity or aggression was the more common tactic. The results were perfectly even. Ten of the last 20 NBA finals teams have made a near-deadline move while ten remained in tact.
Here’s the data:
As you can see, there’s a pretty great balance here and no one size fits all. The Cleveland Cavaliers were commonly trying to find the right pieces next to LeBron James. Meanwhile the Golden State Warriors had everything they needed and didn’t have to make moves. You had significant pieces here such as Marc Gasol to low level moves that allowed a free agency signing such as Peja Stojakovic. There are teams that were 5th in the conference, but many teams that were already in 1st.
As we all know, the Jazz are in first. They are in 1st in the league for the first time in who knows how many years! A week or two ago I would have said “Don’t touch a thing!” Everything was just going right and there was no need to tinker with the roster. The team looked prime for at least a Western Conference Finals appearance. DON’T MESS THIS UP! Right?
However, what if this is Utah’s best title chance in the past 20 years and the next 20 years? What if that one move they could make is the difference maker against the Los Angeles Lakers or LA Clippers? What if the willingness to make a change despite things going well is exactly what gets them through the Western Conference gauntlet?
Honestly, I don’t know what the right approach is here. I’m sure The front office will be fielding calls and even making calls through these next two weeks. Should they make a move? Goodness am I glad I don’t have to make that decision?
Will they? I guess we’ll find out!