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What you need to know about the Jazz heading into free agency

With one of the most expensive rosters in the league, Jazz options in free agency are likely limited

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Danny Ainge Ryan Smith speaks

Danny Ainge, left, and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith, speak about Ainge’s new role as CEO of Utah Jazz Basketball, in charge of all basketball decisions, at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Let’s get ready to rumble! Or, at least for other teams in the league to rumble … maybe let’s just get ready to watch and wait patiently.

At 4 p.m. MDT Thursday the NBA teams can officially (really big sarcastic emphasis on the word “officially”) begin free agent negotiations. So what does that mean for the Utah Jazz?

The Jazz are not set up to make any big news via the free-agent market. The Jazz have one of the most expensive rosters in the league, and without cap space to make any big splashes, their only options for signing free agents are the taxpayer mid-level exception (roughly $6.4 million) and veteran minimum contracts.

But, following the NBA draft, the opening of the free agency window is the biggest event of the NBA offseason. The movement of free agents leads to teams having more clarity about what they need, which leads to more movement on the trade market, where the Jazz will be dealing this summer (see Royce O’Neale news).

Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper free agency primer without a few suggestions of who the Jazz might be able to sign once the free agent gates open. But first, it’s important to point out who on the Jazz roster will be a part of free agency.

Utah Jazz free agents

Danuel House Jr. and Hassan Whiteside are unrestricted free agents. Eric Paschall and Trent Forrest are restricted free agents.

On Thursday, The Athletic’s Tony Jones reported that the Jazz do not intend to extend a qualifying offer to Forrest, which would make him an unrestricted free agent. Jones also pointed out that the Jazz could still be interested in bringing Forrest back.

Also on Thursday, Paschall, who isn’t expected to get a qualifying offer, posted a vague but ominous statement to Twitter, saying, “Appreciate you Utah.” While a tweet is certainly not official in any capacity, it does seem like a bit of a farewell message.

Possible free agents targets

Bruce Brown

The 6-foot-4 wing who spent the last two years in Brooklyn, is just 25. And while he doesn’t provide the exact type of length and size that the Jazz should be coveting as they look to move forward, he is a reliable defender who seems like he could fit into any system. He’s coming off a $4.7 million salary and could very possibly be brought in on a similar deal.

Juan Toscano-Anderson

It’s hard to imagine the Warriors not being able to convince JTA to come back after making the Oakland native an NBA champion, but he is an unrestricted free agent who plays hard and has great size. Whether he can be had for a minimum or MLE size deal remains to be seen.

Robin Lopez

The Jazz’s future at the center position is so uncertain right now. We don’t know who will be starting or playing off the bench for the Jazz at the five next season, but the Jazz could certainly do worse as far as an insurance policy goes if Lopez can be convinced to come to Utah on a minimum.

Bobby Portis

The Jazz don’t have the greatest track record of luring players and convincing them to come to Utah rather than somewhere else that is seemingly more desirable. When it comes to Milwaukee, it’s not so much about the glitz and glam as it is about playing with Giannis Antetokounmpo. But the Jazz should be trying to take swings at players like this — players who immediately add length and grit to the roster. Sure, he’s expected to re-sign with the Bucks, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Donte DiVincenzo

I’m not sure what really happened with DiVencenzo in Sacramento, but I feel like any player’s tenure with the Kings can’t be held against them. When the former Villanova standout was with the title-winning Bucks he was reliable and solid and always seemed to provide a burst of energy at the right time. The Kings are not extending a qualifying offer.