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Once again, the Jazz hold the cards in the trade market

There’s a word for that but I don’t think I can put my finger on it

Los Angeles Lakers v Utah Jazz Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images

The NBA trade deadline draws ever closer and rumors continue to fly. Some deals have been done but the Utah Jazz have yet to be involved in a completed deal despite rumors.

According to virtually every “insider” across the league media, Danny Ainge has been a very busy man, fielding and making calls to front offices around the NBA to talk about potential trades. One report says the Jazz have had discussions with “literally every team in the league.”

Why the Jazz are so popular around the trade deadline is obvious. They are potential sellers and have several players that are relatively easy to trade for. Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Mike Conley and Kelly Olynyk are the most desirable tradable assets Utah has on offer, each of whom can fit on teams looking to make a push deep into the playoffs.

Utah isn’t desperate to trade away these players though. It’s certainly on the table (hence the weeks of talks and smoke emerging from rumored talks) but given where the Jazz are it’s by no means necessary. It reminds one of last summer where Utah was clearly willing to move both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. However, that didn’t mean the Jazz needed to. Ainge didn’t settle for the low-ball offers of the New York Knicks in the case of Mitchell or any low-ball offers for Gobert. Fantastic deals happened to come along for both and so Ainge dealt both.

My guess is that Ainge is trying to play a similar game with this trade deadline. He knows teams want Beasley, Vanderbilt and Conley but he’s set a price for those players — a first round pick for each. If teams don’t offer that for one of these players then no deals will be done and the Jazz will stand pat through the deadline.

Even a team that is likely growing desperate, the Los Angeles Lakers, may not yield to Utah’s demands in talks. The Lakers are hoping to dump Russell Westbrook onto somebody (and get something decent in return to build around LeBron James and Anthony Davis) but have been very reluctant to part with its 2027 and 2029 first-round picks. The Jazz are reportedly interested in taking on Westbrook and sending back its valuable trade pieces like Beasley, Conley and Vanderbilt, but will likely only agree to that if both of those Lakers firsts are included in the deal. And if the Lakers weren’t going to send those picks off for Kyrie Irving, it seems unlikely they’ll move them for guys who aren’t an eight-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA.

If it is in fact true that Utah won’t lower its asking price for anything, it’s likely to result in no trades for the Jazz this time around. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just like this past summer (though for different reasons) the Jazz don’t need to trade any of these players. There is value in keeping them on the roster. Having them around makes the team better and gives Utah’s younger players, like Walker Kessler and Ochai Agbaji, an easier development path. It also allows guys like Kessler and Agbaji to get meaningful development by putting them in key roles during a race to the playoffs instead of a race to the bottom of the standings.

One can certainly argue that moving players has more value in that they bring future assets to the team and give Utah more chances at a top pick in the draft, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in them staying and helping the team keep a winning culture in Salt Lake City.