clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Utah Jazz 'excited' about offseason, including trade for Boris Diaw

SALT LAKE CITY — In three different transactions this offseason, the Utah Jazz acquired well-seasoned veterans George Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw.

So much for being the least-experienced and youngest team in the NBA.

This isn’t your grandchildren’s Jazz anymore.

The rapidly aging Jazz made their latest move on Tuesday afternoon, striking a deal with the San Antonio Spurs to acquire French big man Boris Diaw in exchange for the rights of point guard Olivier Hanlan.

That pending trade, first reported by The Vertical, gives the Spurs enough salary space to facilitate the signing of free agent big Pau Gasol later this week.

Diaw is set to make $7 million in the final season of the three-year deal he signed after helping the Spurs win the 2014 championship. This trade brings the Jazz's team salary sum to about $83 million, which is just under the salary floor of about $84 million (although Utah's total does include multiple players who won't be on the final roster).

It also brings the Jazz up to 14 players with guaranteed contracts for the 2016-17 campaign. (That number includes the departures of Trey Burke and Trevor Booker as well as point guard Shelvin Mack's $2.4 million salary, which will become guaranteed on Thursday after the Jazz pick up an option.)

Now, a team that didn’t have a 30-year-old on its squad last year has suddenly added three in the past two weeks — or will when the NBA moratorium lifts and the league can approve the moves on Thursday.

These deals are much more important than adding three thirtysomethings, though.

Johnson (35), Diaw (34) and Hill (30) checked off a list of acquisitions and needs the organization targeted heading into this offseason.

Though team management can’t comment publicly yet about the moves, there is a feeling of enthusiasm and excitement about the additions within the Jazz franchise, from top to bottom.

A young squad that lacked depth, veteran leadership, experience and flexibility to play big and small and somewhere in between acquired three players who are all capable of helping them accomplish just that.

Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey promised to be active and aggressive this offseason, and he certainly kept his word. On top of securing Jazz coach Quin Snyder for another five years, the franchise has made several strides to win now and to continue the momentum of a rebuild that's been a few years in the making.

If nothing else, the three offseason player acquisitions give the Jazz solid experienced players to bolster the point guard, wings and bigs depth charts.

Hill is a lengthy point guard (6-foot-9 wing span) whose skill set should mesh with Snyder’s play-with-the-pass and defensive philosophies. He’ll also be a valuable mentor to Dante Exum as he acclimates himself back into the NBA after missing a year with a knee injury.

Johnson is a seven-time All-Star who can provide the Jazz with offense in bunches. The 6-foot-7 wing will be used behind Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood or perhaps even with them in certain situations.

And Diaw, an integral contributor to the Spurs’ 2014 NBA championship team, is a 6-foot-9 big who is a gifted passer, a capable scorer and a good-humored and valuable locker room asset. He’ll likely assume the “glue guy” role that the Brooklyn-bound Booker played the last two years.

Overall, the three veterans check off a lot of empty boxes for the Jazz, who were decimated by injuries and inexperienced youths while missing the playoffs for the fourth straight postseason this past spring.

“Yeah,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said after watching Utah’s summer league squad lose to Boston on Tuesday night. “I’m very excited.”

That’s a personal and a professional excitement for the 23-year-old French native, whose team now suddenly will be expected to make the playoffs next spring.

Diaw and Gobert have spent plenty of time playing with each other with France’s national team, and the topic of teaming up in the NBA has come up between them.

“I told him to come to Utah,” Gobert said with a smile, “and today it happened.”

Gobert posted a couple of fun tweets Tuesday afternoon, presumably about the trade. The first, which came 22 minutes before the news broke, included four emojis: a basketball, a French flag, a grinning face with smiling eyes and a mountain scene.

Gobert asked @theborisdiaw a question en francais in the second tweet, which came after the trade news broke: “Polo blanc ou blue?” (Translation: “White or blue polo shirt?”)

Diaw tweeted out a thank you message to the Spurs community ...

... and then posted this note a basketball and French flag emoji:

The younger French player said his elder brings “positivity” to teams.

“He’s a very smart player, great guy on and off the court. Everybody that plays with him loves that,” Gobert said. “Great passer. It’s like having another coach on the court.”

Gobert said the younger Jazz guys will benefit from the presence of Diaw, whom he called “a very good post player.”

“He’s got a lot of experience. He’s great,” Gobert said.”I think young guys like Trey Lyles are going to listen to him and learn from him.”

Lyles was on the same wave length as Gobert moments after the young power forward scored 26 points and 11 rebounds in the 89-82 defeat to the Celtics.

“I saw that before the game and that’s exciting for me,” Lyles said. ”It’s a guy I can learn from, someone who has been in the league for a few years. He plays a similar spot to me, so I’ll be able to latch on and get some words of advice.”

In terms of the three additions, Gobert likes that the team will now be able to sustain injuries better than they did last year when a potential playoff season took a hit due to an onslaught of health issues, including to his knee.

“You don’t want to make a team based on injuries,” he said, referring to last year’s bad luck on the injury front. “But … if somebody goes down, to be able to still win games, it’s great.”

All the better if somebody doesn't go down.

EMAIL: jody@desnews.com

TWITTER: DJJazzyJody