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Win Now Or Later – The Utah Jazz Conundrum

Win Now Or Later – The Utah Jazz Conundrum

The NBA draft is upon us next Thursday (the day after I leave for the MTC on  mission) and every front office is working frantically, trying to figure out which players to bring in and which ones to not touch with a ten-foot pole. However, the Utah Jazz are in an interesting position in this year’s draft – they currently hold picks 14 and 21 in a relatively weak draft. The Jazz desperately need a point guard, or a guard that can create a consistent shot for himself, and that caliber of player will most likely be gone by the time David Stern steps up to the podium for the 14th time Thursday night. With all this uncertainty, what direction should the Jazz head in this year’s draft?

Well, in order to answer that question a few factors must first be considered:

1. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are most likely gone next season. Unless Jefferson comes back to Salt Lake City for far less than last season’s $15 million salary, Big Al played his last game in a Jazz uniform against Memphis. Millsap is gone for good, in my opinion. He wants max money, and the Jazz aren’t in a position to give him that. With nearly $40 million in cap space this summer, Utah is going to try to conserve that cash for 2014′s free agent class and not get tied down with a bad deal this offseason.

With Millsap and Jefferson leaving, this puts the post work on the shoulders of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Obviously, the Jazz are going to have to try to either draft at least one backup big man, or sign a few in free agency this offseason at cheap prices.

2.  After the first seven picks, every point guard with star power will be gone. Seeing as the greatest need for the Jazz is a point guard, hanging onto a 14th pick seems a bit redundant if they’re just going to try to take another lower-tier combo guard/forward.

3. This next season is going to be a tough one for fans. If anyone out there is dreaming of reaching the playoffs, I hate to break it to you, but the Jazz aren’t going to make any post-season noise for a few years yet. With Favors and Kanter starting, this team is going to go through some hard lessons, and the young guys still have a lot of growing up to do. Watching the kids grow and learn the NBA game is going to be a great ride, as long as fans don’t get misconceived notions of playoffs if this group of young’uns manage to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder or Miami Heat.

4 – If next season truly is a rebuilding one, then how focused should Utah be on winning now? Should they try to throw money at some big name free agents in 2014 and hope the end result is a banner in the rafters of the Energy Solutions Arena, or should the Jazz follow (gulp) Golden State’s format and try to build a solid team through the draft?

Utah truly is in a unique, and difficult, situation. Many teams that have been in the Jazz’s current position have failed at the task of rebuilding, and their franchises are now mired in misery (Charlotte, Detroit, New Orleans, etc.). Utah has to handle these next few years the right way, or else the Jazz could go the way of the Pelicans.

That scary thought aside, here’s an interesting one for fans to chew on – what if the Jazz traded their two first round picks (14 and 21) this season to a surefire lottery team in 2014, for that team’s first round pick? Say Utah decided to strike a deal with the Pelicans, Bobcats, Suns, Magic, Bucks, Wizards, Kings, or Raptors – all teams that have a high chance of seeing the lottery next season. The Jazz could offer picks 14 and 21, and possibly Mo Williams in a sign-and-trade, for a first round pick from any of those teams. No players, no cash, no trade exceptions – just a first-rounder.

As an armchair GM, would you pull the trigger on that deal?

Imagine Utah having a top five pick. Players that could go in the top five in 2014 include Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Glenn Robinson III, and James Young. While a few of those names probably aren’t familiar to those of you who aren’t draft junkies such as myself, Wiggins and Parker should ring a few bells. Parker seemed close to committing to BYU before choosing Duke (Parker is a Mormon, which is why he was considering BYU). If the Jazz could land any of those players, they’d be in a great position moving forward. Where exactly is forward? Well, the 2014 free agent class is absolutely loaded. If Utah is smart this offseason with their cap space, they could have close to the same money in 2014.

The 2014 free agent class includes Paul Pierce, Kris Humphries, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Andrew Bogut, Aaron Brooks, Danny Granger, Lance Stephenson, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Grievis Vasquez, Carmelo Anthony, Thabo Sefolosha, Channing Frye, Tim Duncan, Kyle Lowry, and John Wall.

Imagine the Jazz drafting someone in a loaded 2014 class ( in the top 5 no less), then signing a solid free agent, all without giving up a single player from the Core Four?

I realize this is a bit of a stretch, as far as good scenarios go – but hey, a guy can dream right? Following this blueprint makes good sense, though. This next season will be one for development anyways. Utah isn’t title-chasing right now, and giving up a few draft picks now in exchange for a potential superstar next season seems like a fair trade, even if it means Utah sits at the bottom of the standings for most of the season.

If this situation presented itself, and you found yourself in Dennis Lindey’s shoes, would you pull the trigger on this deal and take the risk?

 

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  • M_england83

    I have full confidence in Dennis Lindsey. If he pulls off a trade like this, then that will tell me he didn’t see anything from the potentials. That being said, DL probably feels pretty confident in finding a diamond in the rough. He probably feels pretty good right now after seeing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green playing so well. I say we just wait to see if we can get Lebron, of course if we are dreaming.

    • Spencer Durrant

      haha yeah, I know what you mean. I’m not against getting a solid guy in this years draft – Caldwell-Pope, Olynyk, Hardaway Jr, Franklin, and Larkin all have potential to be solid players on a contender. But I’d gladly sacrifice them, and a year of winning, if it meant we could land a top 5 pick in 2013 and maybe LeBron ;)

      • M_england83

        It is also my opinion, that even if we pick up these draft picks, we could still suck enough to pick up a top five draft pick. Unless Dennis Lindsey picks some solid FA’s The Jazz are rebuilding and they will most likely suck, but it will be a positive suck.

      • Spencer Durrant

        I agree, I just would like a surefire high pick next year, instead of hoping for my team to lose a bunch of games!

      • AndrewWal

        Unless we are all surprised and our young guys explode onto the scene and lead us deep into playoffs. Wishful thinking though.

  • narddog8

    I would really like to have good position in the 2014 Draft. I’m not sure the FO would trade both our picks though. I am fully down for a year of losing though with only the young guys playing and a good position in the draft. I mean we could end up with Jabari Parker for goodness sake.

    There are a couple guys in this year’s draft that I hope we can get our hands on if we stick with our picks.Those guys being Caldwell Pope, Hardaway, and Schroeder. Also wouldn’t mind Peyton Siva in the second. I’m super excited to see what happens.

    • Spencer Durrant

      I really wanna get Olynyk, cause as I mentioned, the Jazz need a backup big. Olynyk is perfect, he’s like Tiago Splitter. He’s the only guy in the draft I’m really drooling over, I think.

      • AndrewWal

        I haven’t seen much of Olynyk. I might go watch his Draft Express video right now. Seriously though, I feel like Caldwell-Pope and Hardaway Jr are going to be the steals of this draft.

      • Spencer Durrant

        Hardaway Jr will be more so than Caldwell-Pope. Love the kid, but he’s coming from the same situation Burks did – best player on a bad team. Georgia went 15-17 on the season, and Caldwell-Pope was their only bright spot. I’m wary to draft him, with how hard a time Burks has had adjusting to the NBA.

      • AndrewWal

        If he’s available when we pick, I’d say we should pick him. At least at 21. I’ve had him projected in the top 10. Hardaway Jr for sure. He’s got that NBA DNA.

  • jermsguy

    The big risk is that the Warriors were a surefire lottery team this year until they weren’t.

  • Abel

    I’d do that deal in a second if I had the chance, but I don’t think any bad team would be willing to give up their first round pick for picks #14 and #21 in this draft. A guy like Mo Williams can be found in free agency, and the possibility of getting a star next year is too good for a team to trade a potential lottery pick. To me, it’s not even a big risk for the Jazz, as mid first round pick are no sure thing, especially in a weak draft. The huge risk would be for the other team, if it existed.

    A more realistic possibility would be offering this year’s two first round picks AND next year first round pick. The Jazz might or might not make the playoffs, but some teams are in a much worse position, and are very likely to have a higher pick than the Jazz. Offering those three picks could give the team a chance to get a top 5 pick in next year’s draft.

  • Academically Ineligible

    1 – Good luck on your mission. At least you’ll be able to miss the next two seasons of wallowing that will be the Jazz.

    2 – I’m not convinced there are more than 2 solid players in this draft. I’ve tried, but I think you have mediocre talent that in a good draft would all be rotation players at best. I don’t see a single person in this draft worth trading for except maybe McElmore. Next year’s looks better, but I’ll address that in a moment.

    3 – Except in the case of a PG, we aren’t drafting any position that in this class is going to supplant the guy already projected to be there, and do you really think any of these PG are worthy of being our future at the position? Burke is a sexy choice but he’s smaller for a PG. MCW can’t shoot. The rest are all short. The German looks to be exciting but given the needs of other teams, he could be had at 21 I feel. So, who do you draft at 14? I’d think there might be a team that likes Alec Burks that has a better pick than we do where DL could trade the 14 and Burks for a lower pick, but even then, that feels like making a move just to make one.

    4 – Looking at the talent in 2014 is exciting, but the top talents are mostly PF – are you going to draft one next year in Wiggins or Parker (for example) and then sit him? Are you going to replace Favors? So where do you go with that? And if you draft a PG this year, are you drafting one again next year? That makes you become like the Wolves with too many PG prospects and nothing to show for it.

    I know we’re all excited to see how next Thursday plays out. We’re all fairly resigned that we’ll suck next year and get a higher draft pick, but if you look at the regular real estate owners are shaping up, I don’t see us moving inside the top 9. Even if we lose 10 more games next year, that puts us at 9th worst. A few more losses might move us a little closer on the board, but I just don’t see how Cleveland, Orlando, Washington, Detroit, Charlottoe, Phoenix or Toronto finish with a better record than Utah does. NOLA, Sacramento, Minnesota, Portland, and Philadelphia are all wild cards. Dallas (with a healthy full season from Dirk) should qualify for the playoffs, but that means a Houston, GS, or LAC falls out, but only just barely. Our team is not constructed to be a bottom 5 team, nor a playoff contender. So what do we do?

    I feel that is why DL is here because he knows what to do, but until he does it, will any of us know how we would play this out? I don’t.

  • Braden Clark

    I’ve Heard rumors about the Jazz trading up in this years draft, David Locke said they have been looking in to the 5th pick from Phoenix and that gives us numerous options! We could land Victor Oladipo who I believe will be the rookie of the year or possibly the only all star in this lottery class. The other one I wouldn’t mind the Jazz getting is Michael Carter Williams, not with the 5th pick but I believe he has the potential to be Rajon Rondo and the Jazz need a good passing point guard we haven’t had one since we lost D-Will. No more with this scoring point guard regime it doesn’t work for us!

    I like the theory to trade our picks for future picks, our best bet is to trade them to the Magic, Bobcats, Kings, or Suns. You’re not giving credit to the Pelicans I have a feeling they will make a play off run next year. Anthony Davis will show glimpses of becoming the next Tim Duncan and Austin Rivers will have a rebound year and play like he was suppose to the next year. If they draft Trey Burke or even Victor Oladipo they fix their need at PG or SG they need someone there and I believe that Austin Rivers can adapt to any position. Don’t count out those Pelicans!

    And don’t forget this years free agency, there are a lot of good players out there. I believe that we should only resign two players from our former team whom we can get pretty cheap and that is Randy Foye and Demare Carrol two key players that are key to have for future championship teams. Who knows who we could steal or grab.

    With the guards who are going to be free agents next month here are a few we could grab that are cheaper than the max players but could fit in the “Jazz” playing style such as:

    Jose Calderon
    Jarrett Jack
    Matt Barnes
    JJ Reddick
    Tony Allen
    Kyle Korver

    Now for the big men that could sit and play key minutes for us:

    Zaza Pachulia
    David West
    Chris Kaman

    All these guys are possibilities and they won’t cost to much either. So when the time comes we can sign a bigger player in the next year and would give us good enough talent for the playoffs next spring. Plus we could have one possibly two top five lottery picks next year. Could be interesting

  • Sports Guy

    Correct me if I am wrong, but be can’t do sign and trades on draft night. I don’t think you can negotiate with a free agent until July 1. Otherwise, its tampering. Also, Mo would have to agree to be traded to that team.