With free agent market drying up, can Jazz make a trade?

The Jazz are in a difficult situation. Free agents are signing left and right with their new squads, and aside from trading from Ricky Rubio and re-signing Joe Ingles, the Jazz have been fairly quiet.

This has left Jazz nation asking if Dennis Lindsey will make another move, or if the roster will stay where it’s at until the start of the season. I highly doubt he won’t make some kind of move, even if it’s just to add depth. But, looking at who is still available, it’s hard to see DL being able to bring in a solid starter at this point.

Something I have thought about is the possibility of a trade. Considering the free agent market is not looking so good, I would bet DL is looking to make a trade rather than a free agent signing. 

Here are some possible trades I like.

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Derrick Favors & Alec Burks for Nicolas Batum

This would most likely involve us sending a future draft pick or two as well, but I love Batum and his length. He has been very solid for the Hornets and would be a nice replacement for Hayward. Batum averaged 15 PPG this last season, and would be able to contribute on the defensive and offensive end for the Jazz.

trade 2 ss

Derrick Favors for Maurice Harkless

Harkless is coming off the best year of his career, where he averaged 10 PPG and 4 RPG with the Blazers. I like his size – 6″8 with a 7″ wingspan. I know he’s nothing close to Hayward, but he’s still fairly young (24 years old) and can be a solid rotation player. Might not be the long term answer for the Jazz, but he helps fill a large void.

trade 3 ss

Derrick Favors, Boris Diaw, and future 2nd round draft pick for TJ Warren and Tyson Chandler

This trade works out great for the Jazz because they get a talented, scoring wing player with Warren, then a solid backup center for Gobert. Favors still has good years ahead of him, but currently the need is SF. Diaw’s expiring contract is what makes him attractive for the Suns.

trade 4 ss

Derrick Favors and Dante Exum for Tobias Harris

I was hesitant to throw Exum in this trade, but I’m a big fan of Harris. He’s been in the league for 6 years, but most recently has played his last two years with the Pistons where he averaged just over 16 PPG. Harris has great scoring ability, and can play either SF or PF, which would be very valuable for the Jazz currently.

trade 5 ss

Derrick Favors and Dante Exum for Evan Fournier

Fournier has developed into a nice player for the Magic, where he has increased his scoring average each year since entering the league by almost 3 points. He had his best year last year where he averaged 17.2 PPG. His 3FG% did drop to 35%, which is about league average, but normally shoots between 37-40% from downtown. He is listed at 6″7, and can play either SG or SF. His scoring ability and versatility would be a great fit for the Jazz.

If for some reason DL doesn’t pull off a trade, there are also still a couple of guys in free agency that I like for the Jazz:

PF – Jamychal Green

SF – Jonathan Simmons

SF – Wilson Chandler

The Jazz will need to make a decision on Boris Diaw’s team option by July 15th, so I would imagine if a move gets made it will probably be before then. 

Will DL roll the dice? Or will he wait it out and see if something opens up next year? At this point it’s hard to say, but I would be surprised if we went into the season with Joe Ingles as our only SF. 

– Jesse Thayne

Jazz Summer League Review – Growth of Exum, potential of Mitchell, and top plays

 

Summer League
Photo by Kristin Murphy – Deseret News

As the Utah Jazz Summer League comes to a close, many find themselves excited for the regular season to begin (myself included). The Jazz went 3-0, and for the most part, were very impressive. I always enjoy watching summer league because I like to see how rookies and young players adapt to the faster speed of the NBA.

Dante Exum, who is in his 3rd year in the NBA, was the most experienced NBA player in this years Utah Summer League. As we all know, he has missed a big chunk of those 3 years due to injury, so it was nice to see him make up some of his playing time and see how he has improved his game since the season ended.

Exum’s stat line throughout the 3 games was fairly impressive – 20 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.3 RPG / 52 FG%, 41.6 3FG%

A few things I really liked from Exum were:

  1. Confidence – Exum looked very confident throughout summer league. He looked like a leader, and was not afraid to shoot the ball, or drive to the hoop.
  2. Shooting stroke – His shot already looks a ton better than it did compared to just the end of the regular season. Much smoother and quicker release.
  3. Vision – You can tell when Exum was dribbling the ball, that he had the ability to see things before they happened. This was something he has struggled with in his short time in the NBA.

Donovan Mitchell will soon be a household name in the state of Utah. Out of everyone in the Utah Jazz Summer League, and I mean EVERYONE who played from the 4 teams in SLC, I thought overall that Mitchell was the most impressive. Yes, I think he played better than #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, and #3 overall pick Jayson Tatum. Not just for his scoring ability, but also defensive ability.

Mitchell was a highlight reel for the Jazz! He showed great leaping ability, defensive effort, and overall leadership during his time on the court for the Jazz. His shot is smooth and quick. I think Mitchell will get a lot more playing time than expected his rookie year, partially because of the exit of “He who must not be named”. The Jazz will need scoring this year, and boy can Mitchell deliver.

Donovan Mitchell’s Summer League stat line – 15.3 PPG, 3.3 APG, 3.3 SPG / 43 FG%, 38 3FG%

Mitchell was a defensive force throughout the summer league. I was thoroughly impressed by his on-ball and off-ball defense. The only area I would like to see Mitchell improve is his shot selection. At times he seemed to force shots, or shoot too early in the shot clock.

Top Plays

  1. Mitchell shakes Tatum, then dishes.

 

2. Mitchell’s Monster Slam

 

3. Mitchell behind the back to Exum

 

4. Griffin posterizes multiple Celtics

 

5. Exum’s quick layup off pick

 

The Jazz finished the Summer League 3-0, and the youngsters showed a lot of great talent. I think the biggest takes from these 3 games are: Mitchell is going to be really good for us, Exum is getting much better, and the Jazz have a bright future.

 

– Jesse Thayne

 

 

Hayward is gone – Now what?

We’ve all heard the bad news. Our much loved Gordon Hayward has decided to take his talents elsewhere – Boston. This offseason the Jazz have been completely focused on bringing Hayward back by trying to surround him with talent. They traded up twice in the first round of the NBA Draft, and traded a future first round pick for Ricky Rubio, who Hayward has been rumored to like. They even made it a priority to re-sign Joe Ingles, who is said to be Haywards best friend on the team.

But now Hayward has left the Jazz high and dry to test the Eastern conference with the Celtics. So what should the Jazz do now? The free agent market is drying up as each day passes. What looked like a fruitful market, is starting to look very disappointing, especially for a team who just lost their best player.

Even though the Jazz won’t be able to find talent anywhere near the level of Hayward, there are still a few options out there. The Jazz could possibly make a few trades, or go after a free agent and hope they fit well with their currently young and developing squad.

Free Agency

If the Jazz go after a guy in free agency, there are a few I think would be good fits.

Rudy-Kings

Rudy Gay

2017 Stats – 18.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.8 APG / 45.4 FG%, 37.2 FG3%, 17.9 PER

Gay has been a great scorer throughout his entire 10-year career. Most recently he was rumored to have interest in signing with the Thunder, but after receiving an offer lower than expected, the Thunder used that money for Patrick Patterson. I know that Gay has had some injury issues, especially after a torn achilles tendon this past year, but at the right price he could be a good fit for the Jazz to make up for those 20 PPG they will be missing.

 

Otto

Otto Porter Jr.

2017 Stats – 13.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.5 APG / 51.6 FG%, 43.4 3FG%, 17.3 PER

Porter has developed into a great player for the Wizards. He is long, and has great range. Many think he can be a future all-star with a very high ceiling. I would have to agree. If he weren’t the 3rd option in Washington, I would imagine he would be averaging more like 17-20 PPG. I think he could do that for the Jazz, but there is a high demand for Porter right now. The Nets have made him an official offer, but the Wizards have matched it, also the Kings attempted, but the Wizards matched it. I’m assuming they will do the same if Utah decided to offer him a contract, but maybe the Jazz could pull off a sign and trade to drag him away from the Wizards. Not likely, but anything is possible, right?

 

Jamychal

Jamychal Green

2017 Stats – 8.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.1 APG / 50 FG%, 37.9 3FG%, 13.5 PER

Yes, I know Green is a power forward and would not be a direct replacement for Hayward. But, I do think he has a chance to be very good and would be a great fit for the Jazz. Currently, the Jazz need guys who can score and stretch the floor. Green reminds me a ton of Paul Millsap, he’s about the same size, and has the same ceiling in my opinion. If the Jazz could bring in Green and one other smaller name free agent, it would add great depth to their roster.

 

James Johnson

James Johnson

2017 Stats – 12.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.6 APG / 47.9 FG%, 34 3FG%, 17.0 PER

Johnson is coming off a great year with the Heat. Because of the Heat’s interest in Hayward, he was most likely needing to sing elsewhere in order to make space for Hayward. But with Hayward off the table, I would expect the Heat to go after him. If they don’t land him, I think he can bring great athleticism and scoring ability to the Jazz. He plays hard, and shoots the ball at a good percentage.

Trade Possibilities

Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics

Jae Crowder

2017 Stats – 13.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.2 APG / 46 FG%, 39.8 3FG%, 14.9 PER

The Celtics just added a big contract to their payroll with Hayward. They now need to move a few pieces in order to make room. I would imagine Crowder is as good as gone, considering he plays the same position as Hayward, and they now have more depth and youth on the bench (Tatum and Brown). Crowder is a dog and plays hard. He goes after it on the defensive end, and offensively he is very efficient and smart. Not sure what the Celtics are looking to get for him, but the Jazz do have assets with expiring contracts.

 

wilson chandler

Wilson Chandler

2017 Stats – 15.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.0 APG / 46 FG%, 33.7 3FG%, 14.9 PER

Chandler is coming off a career year with the Nuggets. He is a proven scorer with playmaking ability. He is also a seasoned vet who can provide leadership for the Jazz, who are one of the youngest teams in the league. I know Denver is looking to possibly get rid of a few players, too, after signing Paul Millsap to a 3-year $90 million deal. The expiring contract of Diaw could possibly be tempting, along with maybe a future draft pick.

 

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns

TJ Warren

2017 Stats – 14.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.1 APG / 49.5 FG%, 26.5 3FG%, 15.6 PER

TJ is young, and for the most part, not very well known. He has been with the Suns for 3 years now, and has shown promise. Unfortunately, he has had a few injury problems. But he can make plays and score when given the opportunity. The Suns were rumored to have interest in Derrick Favors earlier this year. Maybe they could make a swap?

 

The Future is Now

Dennis Lindsey has made some great moves since taking over as GM, and also some not so great moves. But for the most part, he has set this team up to succeed. I really don’t see the Jazz crawling back in to re-build mode. I know it’s smart to always have your eyes set on the future, but the Jazz have said multiple times that they want to win now.

Whatever happens, it will be for the better of the team. I would expect DL to make some big moves in the next week or so.

 

– Jesse Thayne

 

Free Agency, Offseason and Draft – What should Jazz do?

The Jazz will have a busy summer as they look to keep their best player, try to re-sign a few others, and draft 4 new players. With all of the hype going on with the draft and free agency, I wanted to speak on a few of these topics and give some of my own opinions on what I think will happen, and what I think should happen.

Free Agency

Let’s get started with free agency. There are so many possibilities being thrown out right now. I really think the Jazz are feeling the pressure to re-sign Hayward, as the Celtics and Heat are prepping their pitches for the first time all-star to join their squad in hopes of building a contender in the East.

But which team poses the largest threat? To me – Boston. I know Miami has a lot of cap space available and is going to use that to lure in Hayward and another all-star caliber player, but I don’t see them being able to challenge the Celtics’ pitch. As we all know and have heard thousands of times, Hayward would be playing under his former college coach Brad Stevens. The two spent 4 years together at Butler, and I’m sure they have a solid relationship.

But what really stands out is the future of the Celtics. They already have a great core with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Al Horford with a talented bench featuring Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Kelly Olynyk. Plus, they own the 1st overall pick in the upcoming draft, who many think they will use to select standout guard Markelle Fultz. A starting lineup featuring Thomas, Fultz, Hayward and Horford could be scary. With Lebron getting older, and the Celtics growing stronger, I could see the Celtics competing for a championship in the next 2-3 years. The thought of playing for your old head coach with one of the most iconic teams in the NBA could be a tempting situation for Hayward with all of the pieces already in play.

What I think will happen: Hayward signs with Boston

What I think should happen: Hayward signs with Utah

 

Offseason

There are a handful of players that play big minutes for the Jazz that could possibly end up on another team this summer. George Hill, Joe Ingles, and Shelvin Mack all have expiring contracts. Boris Diaw also has a team option which the Jazz could use to release him.

What I think will happen:

Hill – re-sign with Jazz

Ingles – re-sign with Jazz

Mack – sign elsewhere

Diaw – released by Jazz

What I think should happen:

Hill – sign elsewhere

Ingles – re-sign with Jazz

Mack – sign elsewhere

Diaw – released by Jazz

Hill was great for the Jazz while healthy, but with his tendency to get injured it will be hard for the Jazz to pay him what it seems like he will be asking. If the Jazz can get him for a bargain, I would love to see him back with the team; otherwise, take a hike. Ingles is a huge piece of the puzzle for the Jazz as his defensive contributions and top 7 3-point shooting percentage is very valuable. Mack was inconsistent at best and Diaw just couldn’t shoot the ball this year. The Jazz need a stretch 4 who can shoot the ball well and play solid defense. Diaw didn’t seem to be able to do either very well while with the Jazz.

If the Jazz decide to be aggressive in free agency, a few guys I would like to see them go after are:

PG – Kyle Lowry

PG – Jrue Holiday

PG – Jeff Teague

SF – Rudy Gay

PF – Paul Millsap

PF – Taj Gibson

Draft

Draft

Last but not least is the 2017 NBA Draft. It should be an eventful night for the Jazz because they have the second most draft picks in the draft (4).

The Jazz have 2 first round picks (24 & 30) and 2 second round picks (42 & 55). There are a couple of things the Jazz can do with these picks: They can package a couple of their picks to a team to jump into the lottery, they can trade a couple of picks for a player that can make an immediate impact, they could trade down in the draft to acquire additional picks, or just keep their picks and hope they strike gold.

Dennis-Smith-Jr..jpg

What I think will happen: Jazz will keep both picks to select SG – Josh Hart (Villanova) 24th overall, and PF – Semi Ojeleye (SMU) 30th overall.

What I think should happen:  Jazz trade 24th & 30th overall picks to the Charlotte Hornets for the 11th overall pick to select PG – Dennis Smith (N.C State).

This year’s draft seems to be one of the deepest in recent years, so the Jazz have a lot of options. Some other players I really like that the Jazz could look at in the second round:

PF – Jordan Bell (Oregon)

SG – Frank Jackson (Duke)

PF – Kyle Kuzma (Utah)

PF/C – Caleb Swanigan (Purdue)

SF – Dillon Brooks (Oregon)

PG – Frank Mason (Kansas)

SG – Tyler Dorsey (Oregon)

PG – Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga)

 

In Dennis we trust!

 

– Jesse Thayne

March Madness: My Final Four Picks

Let the madness begin! The selection committee just made their picks for who’s in and who’s out, and let me tell ya, this is going to be a crazy year of March Madness. Kentucky, UCLA, and North Carolina all ended up in the same region.

Who I like

There’s a handful of teams that really stand out to me this year as teams that can make a run for the title. Two of them that I really like are:

Oregon – The 3 seed in the Midwest region, is led by Junior star Dillon Brooks. The Ducks are coming off of a great year finishing with a record of 29-5, and runner ups in the Pac-12 conference. They have been playing really well lately, and have done a great job in close games this year. Expect them to make a deep run this year.

Kentucky – The Wildcats are the 2 seed in the South region. They also finished their year 29-5, and were the SEC champs. They have great, young talent, and I can see them going far this year, which as of late is not unusual for Coach Calipari and his Cats.

Cinderella Pick:

Xavier – The Musketeers finished the year 21-13. They had a brutal schedule, but finished with great wins against: Butler, Creighton, Seton Hall, and Utah. Led by the Junior standout Trevon Bluiett, I think the Musketeers can make a sneaky run in this years tournament. Watch out for Xavier!

My Final Four Picks

Duke, Arizona, Oregon, & Kentucky

Unfortunately, no school from Utah made the tournament this year, but look for Utah and BYU in the NIT. 

I’m looking forward to the Madness, and would love to hear all of your thoughts on your picks!

Can the Jazz get a top 4 playoff seed?

The Jazz are currently on a 4 game win streak, and have a record of 41-24 while sitting in the 4th spot in the West. They have already won more games than they won all of last year, and 17 games still remain. Can they make a push for 53+ wins and remain in the top 4 in the West? I think so.

The Jazz entered the all-star break losing 3 of their last 4 games, and I’ll admit I was a little nervous. But things are trending upwards. The Jazz are on a little hot streak, Dante Exum has started playing how he should (to an extent), and Hayward is showing why he deserved to be a first time all-star.

One Hill a game keeps the losses away

One crazy stat that stood out to me is the Jazz have only played 12 games with their true starting lineup, due to injuries. The Jazz need to get healthy, and stay healthy! Hill has been the biggest difference maker this year when healthy, and when he and Hayward are on the court together the offense works like a finely tuned machine. Hill is having one of his best years in his career, and is averaging 17.6 PPG and 4.3 APG. But he has only played 38 games. If the Jazz can remain healthy, they are a top 4 team in the West, and possibly a top 5 team in the league.

The Jazz are 28-10 when Hill is healthy! Compare that to 12-13 when Hill does not play.

wow gif

Let’s get 53+

If the Jazz can have Hill in the starting lineup, they have a really good chance of winning 53+ games for the first time since the 2009-2010 season. With 53+ wins they should finish in the top 4 of the West, guaranteeing them home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Jazz need to get healthy, and stay healthy because the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Thunder are all within 5 games of that 4th seed which the Jazz currently hold. Luckily, Dante Exum and Alec Burks have been nice additions for Jazz and have allowed the Jazz to compete while Hill has been sidelined due to various injuries.

Playoffs here we come

I don’t want to speak too soon, but it looks like the Jazz are meeting all of my pre-season expectations, and will most likely (unless some crazy losing streak begins) be competing in the playoffs for the first time in 5 years.

What concerns me about the playoffs for the Jazz is their record against the current top 8 in the West: 7-13.

Here is how they fare against each of those teams individually:

1. Warriors: 0-2

2. Spurs: 1-1

3. Rockets: 2-1

5. Clippers: 0-2

6. Grizzlies: 1-3

7. Thunder: 1-2

8. Nuggets: 2-2

My overall take from this is that the Jazz need to avoid the Grizzlies and Clippers in the playoffs, and they need George Hill healthy. Other than that, get ready for the playoffs Jazz Nation.

 

– Jesse Thayne

5 Reasons Why The Jazz Are A Top Team In The West

The Jazz are currently on a road trip in the east coast, and up until late in the 4th quarter of the game against the Hornets, they have looked great so far. Before we jump into the main discussion, here is a quick look at who the Jazz have played so far:

Jazz Wins:

  • Lakers (4-4)
  • Spurs (5-3)
  • Mavericks (2-6)
  • Knicks (3-4)
  • 76ers (0-7)

Jazz Losses:

  • Trailblazers (5-4)
  • Clippers (7-1)
  • Spurs (5-3)
  • Hornets (6-1)

So, this shows that the Jazz are only losing to the elite teams in the league, and that they have been fairly competitive through the first 9 games of the season. At home the Jazz are 2-1, and on the road they are 3-3.

But for those of you who follow the Jazz closely, you know that this year should be a breakout year for the Jazz. And there are a lot of reasons for that, so I decided to choose my top 5 reasons why the Jazz are a top team in the west this year.

1. George Hill

This guy has been unstoppable since the start of the season. He is currently averaging 20 PPG, 5 APG, and 3 RPG. So for those of you who had doubts about the Jazz giving up our 1st round draft pick this year for Hill, now you understand.

2. 3-Point Percentage

The Jazz have made some improvements from beyond the arc this year by adding  Joe Johnson in the offseason, and by keeping sharp-shooters Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles, and Trey Lyles. As a team, the Jazz are shooting 38% from 3 this year, compared to 35% last year.

3. Defense

In defensive efficiency, the Jazz currently rank #11 in the league. Not quite as good as their last years ranking of #5, but this is because of injuries to Hill, Hayward and Favors. So I would expect this to continue to improve. Gobert has looked great this year, and with Favors playing along side him we are a tough team to face. The Jazz are also one of the tallest/longest teams in the NBA, which helps a lot from the defensive side of the ball.

4. Depth of Bench

Dante Exum, Alec Burks, Joe Johnson, Trey Lyles, and Boris Diaw. That will be the first 5 off the bench for the Jazz once all of the starters are back from injuries. That group of guys is a great combination of youth, talent and experience. The Jazz boast the best bench in the league if you ask me (but of course I am a little biased)

5. More Experience

Something Dennis Lindsey clearly made a priority when recruiting talent this last off-season was increase of overall experience within the roster. Joe Johnson has been in the league for 15 years, and has playoff experience with 3 different teams. Boris Diaw is a 13 year veteran that has been apart of 3 NBA Championship teams with the San Antonio Spurs. And George Hill has 8 years of experience in the league, and has been to the playoffs almost every year since joining the league.

With our starting 5 healthy, it’s safe to say the Jazz can land in the top 5 of the western conference rankings by the end of the season. The Warriors and Spurs will most likely end up in the top 2 spots. Then the Clippers and Thunder will most likely end up at 3 and 4. But after that, it’s a race for the 5th spot between the Jazz, Rockets and Blazers.

Even though a  5-4 record might look disappointing, let’s remember that the Jazz still don’t have their entire starting 5 healthy yet. Favors missed the first couple games and is just starting to find his rhythm, and Hayward is finally back from his 2 week absence, and now George Hill has been dealing with a thumb injury. With our main core healthy and in tact, we have the talent on this roster to be one of the top teams in the West.