On Thursday the NBA offseason was in full swing as the free agent negotiation window opened up. But, three hours before free agency began, the Utah Jazz made their first move of the offseason, trading Royce O’Neale to the Brooklyn Nets for a 2023 first-round draft pick.
The trade marked the first significant move since the Jazz retooled the front office, which is led by Jazz CEO Danny Ainge and aided by general manager Justin Zanik and newly minted associate general manager David Fizdale.
After Dennis Lindsey left in the offseason in 2021 and the Jazz hired Ainge in December, the Jazz made only minor moves at the most recent trade deadline, and nothing that wasn’t really the obvious move at the time — trading away an injured and aging Joe Ingles and taking on pleasant surprises in Juancho Hernangomez and free agent Danuel House Jr.
As the Jazz start to make moves to reinvent the current roster, we’re finally getting a look at the front office’s mettle. So, was the O’Neale trade a good one?
The draft pick that the Jazz will be getting from Brooklyn is going to be the lesser of the Houston Rockets’ and Philadelphia 76ers’ 2023 first-round picks. That means that if the Sixers play well, as expected, the Jazz will receive their pick, which would come later in the first round. So Jazz fans just have to root for both Philly and Houston to play like garbage next season to increase the odds that the Jazz will get a higher draft pick.
No matter where that pick lands though, receiving a first-rounder for O’Neale should be viewed as a win, especially considering that it’s coming from a team that is facing quite a bit of turmoil (Kevin Durant requested a trade from the Nets on Thursday).
It’s certainly going to be hard to find someone that is going to provide healthy 3-point shooting along with reliable defense in the way that O’Neale did, especially for the team friendly sub-$10 million deal he was on. But, a first-rounder is going to come in handy, whether the Jazz decide to use the pick themselves or use it in another trade package. Assets are not something the Jazz have a lot of, and now they have one more than they did before.
In pretty short order many were comparing the O’Neale trade to the one that Detroit made with Portland recently, sending out Jerami Grant in return for a 2025 first-round pick. Now, there were more picks and pieces in that trade, but the important pieces were Grant for a first and Grant makes $20 million a year.
If we’re looking at it from that lens, the Jazz got nearly the same value as the Pistons got for Grant and in a more immediate draft and did so after a season in which O’Neale’s production on the defensive end dipped. For that, I think it’s fair to say that the Jazz did well and Mr. Ainge deserves a passing grade.
New with the Jazz
This week on ‘Unsalvageable’
Check out “Unsalvageable” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster).
This week the crew talks about the Jazz’s new head coach Will Hardy and associate general manager David Fizdale before talking about the NBA at large and how the Jazz should handle the offseason.
The podcast has moved to a new feed so remember to follow or subscribe by searching for “Unsalvageable” through your podcast provider.
From the archives
This week in Jazz history
On June 13, 1997, the Chicago Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz, 90-86 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to seal their fifth NBA title. Michael Jordan was named Finals MVP and delivered the game-winning assist when he found Steve Kerr for a foul-line jumper with five seconds left.
How to pass the time in the offseason
Now that the Jazz season has come to an end, it means that I have some time to catch up on the things that I love but don’t have enough time for during the NBA season. Here I’ll suggest my latest way to pass the offseason time and also take your suggestions.
This week, a book recommendation: “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead. It’s a moving novel about a boy in Florida who is sent to the Nickel Academy after he is unjustly arrested. Based on the real story of the Dozier School, a reform school in Florida that operated for 111 years and had its history exposed by a university investigation.
This book is not for the faint of heart, but it was incredibly moving and feels deeply important.
- Jazz don’t extend qualifying offers to Eric Paschall or Trent Forrest (Salt Lake Tribune)
- What two Celtics players said about new Jazz coach Will Hardy (Deseret News)
- Jazz brass explain why Will Hardy is the right man for the job (Deseret News)
- What you need to know about the Jazz heading into free agency (Deseret News)
Around the league
Free agency tracker: news, rumblings, moves and news.
Kevin Durant requests trade from Brooklyn Nets.
Up next: SLC Summer League at Vivint Arena
July 5 | 5 p.m. | Memphis Grizzlies vs. Philadelphia 76ers | ESPN2
July 5 | 7 p.m. | Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz | ESPN2/KMYU-TV
July 6 | 5 p.m. | Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder | ESPN2
July 6 | 7 p.m. | Philadelphia 76ers vs. Utah Jazz | ESPN2/KMYU-TV
July 7 | 4 p.m. | Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Philadelphia 76ers | NBA TV
July 7 | 6 p.m. | Memphis Grizzlies vs. Utah Jazz | NBA TV/KMYU-TV