The NBA’s trade deadline is Feb. 7 and the Jazz are believed to be looking for a third key player. No disrespect to Kyle Korver, Joe Ingles, Jae Crowder, Derrick Favors or anybody else, but none is likely to push the Jazz into the conference finals.
The Jazz need another unique talent besides Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
Getting an actual star is unlikely unless the Jazz give one away. NBA Today host Justin Termine tweeted this item after news broke that Anthony Davis wanted out of New Orleans: “The recent idea that market size doesn’t matter is laughable: The Lakers have done nothing right for years, yet got LeBron and are in the lead for Anthony Davis.”
The prospect of smaller markets keeping stars isn’t inconceivable; Russell Westbrook and Paul George staying in Oklahoma City are proof. But James Harden and Kevin Durant are no longer there.
Some great players might like smaller markets, but attracting top-shelf teammates is a different story. It’s simply easier to get stars to congregate in L.A. than in Salt Lake, Milwaukee, Portland or Memphis. Meanwhile, building quickly is easier in bigger markets. So L.A. gets LeBron this year and likely will get Davis shortly.
The Lakers can go from weak to great with a couple of moves. It’s not a hard sell.
So why aren’t the Knicks attracting the best talent? Weather may be one thing, but culture is another. New York doesn’t have the Laker pedigree. Boston is a cold-weather city, but it also has all those championships and all that history.
If sun and size alone were the only factors, Miami and Phoenix would be contenders every year.
I’ve never been a big believer in conspiracy theories about big markets and championships. Otherwise, the Knicks would always win. But it’s difficult for smaller markets to attract top free agents or trade for them when they don’t have size, name brand or weather.
Former Jazz coach Tom Nissalke told me in 2014: “Would most top players rather not come here (to Utah)? Probably. They’d rather go to a state where it’s warm … it’ll be a battle to get top free agents to come here, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. It goes back to everyone has their price.”
So the Jazz stick with what they know. They draft and develop and augment. Then they hope they can weather the onslaught. It didn’t work with Gordon Hayward. And now it hasn’t worked in New Orleans.