The Utah Jazz are doing things. They had a ton of cap space, and we take a look at what the team has done with it this off-season. Oh, and it's a little big different than what they've done in the past. (See if you can guess what it is!) We take a closer look at the Golden State Warriors and try to construct a team that can take them down -- Dennis Lindsey may have already. Also a quick peek at the Summer League point guards, an actual point guard Shelvin Mack, and a legend. Oh, also non-Utahns don't know what Utahns can drink! (The never-ending confusion)
What the heck, John Stockton?
That Stockton vision! pic.twitter.com/OCKxfjvKzH— NBA Classics (@NBAClassico) February 22, 2016
Leaving your feet to pass while there are four defenders between you and any of your teammates?
Of course, he gets the ball to Karl Malone for the assist. Man, I miss stars.
Any other Stockton news? He is the only point guard to play for a single team for 19 plus years. The only others to do so were/are Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and now recently Dirk Nowitzki!
Dirk Nowitzki can become the fourth player to play 19-plus seasons with one team— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 5, 2016
The others: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and John Stockton
John was insane. Truly a legend.
The Utah Jazz managed their cap-space well over the years -- and it's been easier to do so because very few Free Agents wanted to join. This season it seems like a few were interested (Jared Dudley, Luol Deng) but Utah did not want to give them very long-term deals. So what did the Jazz do with their cap? They used the not-so-new idea of trading for players that other teams didn't want anymore. The Jazz have been a dumping ground for salaries for a while now. Sometimes they got players and then immediately waived them, like Glen Rice, Elden Campbell, and Kenny Gattison. (And Kendrick Perkins). Sometimes they got a one year rental, like Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush, Andris Biedrins, and others. But this year it looks like we actually have some NBA players!
The team had some holes and with the trades made they've added George Hill (potential starting point guard) and Boris Diaw (potential 6th, or at least 1st big off the bench). What did the Jazz give up for these two players? Not much -- the #12 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft (Taurean Prince) and the #42 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft (Olivier Hanlan). A lotto pick and a middle 2nd rounder. At best a lotto pick could be a starter and a middle 2nd rounder could be a rotation player, but not a starter and a 6th man.
Utah also traded away the #9 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft (Trey Burke) for a 2nd rounder in 2021 -- that one wasn't great on paper, but situationally it helps the Jazz out this year. (And hopefully also helps Burke too!)
But big get was an actual Free Agent -- Joe Johnson.
So Utah was able to trade for players other teams didn't want, and sign an older guy who used to be great to a deal with some level of security. This isn't the same thing as being able to use cap space (and the Jazz started things off with close to $30 million) to lure in a Top 5 player in his prime. But it's a start.
All three should be able to contribute immediate for the Jazz, who have eyes on the NBA Playoffs this year. Hill is 30, Diaw is 34, and Johnson is 35. All three also help the team where they were pretty weak as well, in experience. (Or more elegantly: it remedies the Jazz' youthful inexperience?)
These three cap space eating moves could end up meaning the difference between the NBA Lottery and potentially home court in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. It's a short term solution (these guys all have deals that either end in a year or two), but it's a gamble the Jazz must take because star player Gordon Hayward is going to opt out next season (it's business, not personal, so don't take it personally).
Utah has demonstrated an inability to bring in talent under the age of 30. As a result, keeping the 26 year old should be a priority. And these moves this off-season have proven that it is.
The Salt Lake City Summer league is in swing for the second year in a row. The Jazz, predictably because they are in "win now mode" and didn't bring in another lotto pick, have a bad roster that has gone 0-2. As thin as it originally was, the Hanlan trade made them even thinner. For the record, in the one game he did play in he finished with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists (1 turn over), while going 4/6 from the field and 1/3 from deep. His solid play in that game against the San Antonio Spurs may have facilitated his trade TO the Spurs the very next day. Bereft of Hanlan the Jazz became a little more streamlined. Aaron Craft continues to start, and there's more minutes to spread around to the other 2nd rounders the team picked in 2016 -- namely Marcus Paige and Tyrone Wallace.
Craft (6.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.0 spg), Paige (7.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 0.5 apg, 1.0 spg), and Wallace (5.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg) do not look like they are going to make the Utah Jazz this year. That's not an indictment on their play, per se: Craft is crafty and shooting 54.5 FG% but hasn't made a single three; Paige is shooting 40% from three but hasn't done anything else; and Wallace is an all-around athlete but shooting just 35.7 FG% while taking 7 shots a game. It's just that the Jazz are a team that just yesterday guaranteed the non-guaranteed contract for Shelvin Mack.
From @Tjonessltrib: The Jazz are set to guarantee Shelvin Mack's contract. https://t.co/mImsR0e7Qx pic.twitter.com/FSUbDtbbE7— Aaron Falk (@tribjazz) July 5, 2016
While it's grim for Craft, Paige, and Wallace it's not any easier for Mack either just because he has money on the books. Right now Mack has the glorious honor of having to just basically fight for playing time as the 3rd stringer, against Brazlian phenom Raul Neto. Mack is Quin Snyder's boy, so much so that the team just stopped playing Trey Burke at all last season. I wouldn't be surprised to see Mack get the nod of Neto, in what will be a very interesting contract year for both players. (Neto's next year is not guaranteed, Mack will be an Unrestricted Free Agent.)
Baring a trade, there just isn't any space for a point guard. (So why did the team draft two? Meh.) But while there's no space for point guard -- on the Utah Jazz -- there may be space for the Salt Lake City Stars. The NBA-DL isn't yet a good place to stash players. But I hope to see at least ONE of these young point guards in the Jazz pipeline.
So.... the Golden State Warriors won 73 games last season, a new NBA record, but failed to win the NBA Title. They lost in Game Seven, at home, to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It wasn't supposed to work out that way, but they aren't pouting. They've gone out to make a number of power moves this off-season. They've so far added (or retained via options) Kevin Durant, Shaun Livingston, David West, Zaza Pachulia, while drafting Damian Jones and Patrick McCaw. Their high profile losses include Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut. It's safe to say that on paper they look great.
But it's up to us, the fans, to try to create a better "on paper" team. The people over at The Ringer are trying. It's a simple game, you have a budget of $15 and try to make a better five man roster than what the Dubs can.
the @ringer’s NBA game in shareable form. have $15 to beat the warriors. who you got? — pic.twitter.com/dCG3JaHgVX— trey (@treyzingis) July 5, 2016
PG: Rajon Rondo ($1) - Not a fan, no shooting, but championship level defense at times
SG: Kyle Korver ($1) - At 34 years old may have trouble running around screens, but shot 44 3PT% in playoffs
SF: Kawhi Leonard ($4) - Able to switch on any pick and roll he's involved in when defending Durant
PF: LeBron James ($7) - Best player in the game, can play all five positions
C: Rudy Gobert ($2) - Doesn't have range and isn't great from the line, but solid passer, excellent finisher at rim, get all the rebounds and is the anchor to a defense. Pick and roll could be a problem, but length and leeeeeennnnnggggtttthhh for days.
Who do you have?
It is known (source) that Boris Diaw has refined tastes. He is a lover of wine, and even in the locker room he brews his own coffee. I've never lived in Utah, but from what I understand the overriding majority social pressure seems to frown upon both of those things. So what is he going to drink next season? The internet is already on the case:
Non-Utahns don't know about decaf and some didn't want to chance it:
Personally, this would be a great time to have some of the proud sons and daughters of the Beehive state to educate me, and the rest of the world, on Utah laws on liquor and social mores on caffeine.