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Utah Jazz mailbag: Free agency and offseason questions answered

Utah Jazz and LA Clippers during the NBA playoffs in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 10, 2021. The Jazz won 117-111.
Utah Jazz and LA Clippers during the NBA playoffs in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 10, 2021. The Jazz won 117-111.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

On Monday, at 4 p.m. MDT, teams can begin free agent negotiations. On Tuesday the Salt Lake Summer League tips off, on Friday free agents can officially sign contracts, and on Aug. 8 Las Vegas Summer League kicks off.

It probably goes without saying, but it’s going to be a pretty busy couple of weeks for the NBA, so before it all starts I thought we’d open up the mailbag one more time.

Any team that uses the non-taxpayer mid-level exception (MLE) cannot go above the apron (projected to be roughly $139 million) for the remainder of that season. So even if the Jazz are technically under the tax threshold after getting rid of Derrick Favors salary and before re-signing Mike Conley, there is absolutely no doubt that they are going to be above the apron when everything is said and done so they will not be able to use the MLE.

Using the tax-payer mid-level exception (TMLE) prevents the team from being hard capped at the apron. So, while the MLE is a larger amount of available money — roughly $9.5 million vs. the TMLE, which is roughly $5.9 million — it allows the Jazz the freedom to not only re-sign Conley and continue to make other moves.

Buyouts aren’t just decided on by the team, they are negotiated and mutually agreed upon with the player in question. In particular, the part that is negotiated is how much of the guaranteed salary the team is going to pay the player after they part ways.

The Jazz wanted Favors’ salary off the books, but any amount of paid salary in a buyout counts toward the teams salary cap. So, the Jazz and Favors would have had to agree to a lesser amount and then the Jazz would still be paying Favors.

By trading Favors, he gets his full salary paid to him and the Jazz aren’t the ones footing the bill.

Both. The Jazz certainly had great intel on Jared Butler and were confident in that intel but there also needed to be a certain amount of luck.

The intel that teams get on draft night is restricted to what every other team is willing to leak or release. So, while the Jazz trusted their intel, there was some risk in trusting it and hoping that Butler would still be on the board at 40.

The Jazz are looking for positional versatility. So I feel like they’ll try to find someone that can play a stretch or small ball five. That will likely be the main plan for backup center minutes.

Meanwhile, there is still development that needs to happen with Udoka Azubuike, who could come in to play more traditional backup center minutes once the team feels he is NBA ready. When is that going to be? I’m honestly not sure, but I think we’ll have a better idea after watching him in summer league.

No one is ever safe.

There are certainly exceptions to that rule, but outside of franchise players who are absolute superstars, no one is safe from being dealt away in the NBA.

That doesn’t mean that Bojan Bogdanovic or Joe Ingles are going to be traded away, it’s just a reminder that NBA teams are constantly looking at what possibilities are available to them.

The Salt Lake City Summer League rosters will be released on Monday.

All reports from management, staff and players seem to indicate a high level of optimism with Ryan Smith at the helm.

General manager Justin Zanik, on numerous occasions, has said that Smith has a commitment to and excitement about the team that is unmatched, players have said that Smith seems really hands on and willing to learn and even staff that are no longer working with the Jazz have said that Smith’s vision for the team makes everyone on board feel incredibly optimistic about the future of the team. The same has been said of Dwyane Wade.

I can’t speak to those things personally, but from everyone around the team it seems as if Smith is well liked and that having Wade on board has been a boon for the team.