We are in the dog days of the NBA offseason and there isn’t a lot of movement happening around the league right now, but that doesn’t mean that there is a lack of burning questions on the minds of the fans.
So, it’s time to open the mailbag and answer some Utah Jazz questions.
I actually think the Jazz were very patient with this roster, and while they did have the best 2020-21 regular season record, they have been a mediocre playoff team for six consecutive years and it was clear that the current roster was not one that was going to win.
Danny Ainge was hired in December 2021 and was given the latitude to make tough decisions about the roster if they needed to be made.
That doesn’t mean that he was impatient. He could have come in and decided that some retooling was all the team needed, but obviously Ainge, along with everyone else with a seat of power within the Jazz organization, believed that this team had run its course, and I agree.
Regular-season success is nice, and it feels great when it’s happening, but there’s no denying that following up that success with unceremonious second- and first-round playoff exits said more about what this team was truly capable of than any of its regular-season accolades.
Are the Jazz waiting for the Donovan situation to be done before doing any other deals?— Steelers Fan (@khart1968) July 31, 2022
I received more Donovan Mitchell questions than any other type of question, and understandably so.
I’m going to try to answer as many of them here as succinctly as possible.
I personally believe the Jazz are going to trade Mitchell before the start of the 2022-23 season. There is always a chance that a deal doesn’t get done, but I think that the optics are such that completing a trade will make life much easier for the Jazz than if they do not.
Will it be to the New York Knicks? Another team? Will a deal involve multiple teams? I’m not sure.
If forced to make a guess I would say that New York is most likely, but I wouldn’t be shocked if a deal involved a third team in order to maximize quality of assets.
I don’t think that it’s just the Jazz that are waiting to figure everything else out following a Mitchell deal. I think that there are a lot of decisions around the league that hinge on the eventual Mitchell and Kevin Durant situations being finalized.
But, to answer the above question, yes, a lot of what happens with the rest of the roster will depend on what happens with Mitchell. I’ll get into that a tad more in the next question and answer.
I’m sure there was interest in keeping Juancho Hernangomez before he signed with the Toronto Raptors, but there are other things at work here other than just having interest in some role players.
First, the Jazz had to make sure that there were enough roster spots to bring back players in the Rudy Gobert trade and any other potential future trades.
Currently, the Jazz roster stands at 14 standard players and one two-way player, and that includes all the players that the Jazz received from Minnesota.
If the Jazz complete a trade of Donovan Mitchell, they will again be getting multiple players back, and that will likely necessitate shedding even more weight from the roster.
That could include some fringe players or trades of some of the other veterans such as Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson.
So sure, there was interest, but the Jazz have to remain flexible, and if they’re going to be shipping off Mitchell, there’s no need to waste Hernangomez on a team that will be intending to lose.
Any suggestions on how to root for this team when they are probably trying to lose and most players are rentals, trade bait, or excess salary we accept in exchange for picks? Serious question. I’m still a fan but this is going to be one hell of a stretch coming up.— Jelly Mill, Jelly Mill (@dphilton) July 31, 2022
Part of the beauty of basketball is that it’s not always beautiful.
If the Jazz enter a full rebuild season where tanking is a priority, I understand that it’s going to be hard to watch and to enjoy.
You’ll have to try to shift your fandom for a while. You aren’t going to be looking for wins over tough opponents or watching the playoff standings.
Instead, you root for the teams the Jazz get picks from to lose, and lose in a major way. You root for finding diamonds in the rough from undrafted rookies and you keep an eye on the development of players like Jared Butler, Walker Kessler and whoever else the Jazz end up with.
You have to find joy in the fact that you will probably be able to get cheap tickets to see games and that suffering through a rebuilding year will hopefully pay off.
Think toward the future. Imagine how good it will feel if it leads to a historic Jazz team that can win a title and how fondly you’ll look back on the tough years.
Think about kids watching their first NBA games with a tanking Jazz team and how fondly they’ll look back on the bad team that was their first.
It’s the small things, but that’s how you have to approach it.
Wasn’t it extremely obvious that the Jazz did not need to draft a center and a point guard with there last 2 draft picks, and how much do you think by them not drafting Bane/McDaniels or Herb Jones helped close the window for that Jazz team?— Jeff Martinez (@Jeffrizzle23) July 31, 2022
It was pretty obvious that the Jazz didn’t need to draft a reserve center. It couldn’t have been more obvious that the Jazz needed wing defense and depth and drafting Udoka Azubuike was a misstep, there’s no doubt about that.
I think that drafting Jared Butler was more of a draft for the future, thinking about what the Jazz could have possibly needed in a post-Conley world, so I don’t see that one as a great mistake.
But it’s impossible to say if the Jazz would have been massively different had they drafted Desmond Bane (or any other player) instead of Azubuike.
Would that have been the one thing that took the Jazz over the top? I’m hesitant to say that’s true.
I think that there were other roster construction issues and deficiencies that led to this Jazz team not working, and it’s hard for me to imagine one draft pick making the difference over the last couple of years.
Bane is great for the Memphis Grizzlies, but Ja Morant is the more important piece in that equation and Bane is great in it because of the fit of all of the parts. It’s possible that the Grizzlies would be succeeding at the same rate with another player not named Bane.
I don’t think that the single draft mistake is wholly to blame for the Jazz missing their title window with this team, but it certainly didn’t help.
There’s probably going to be some light competition between Azubuike and Kessler if the Jazz don’t add another center to the roster.
What’s most important about who gets that starting spot is that it will likely signal who the Jazz are interested in developing at a higher rate.
Which unproven player on the roster do you think will take the biggest step.— Kevin Tann (@KevinTann2) July 31, 2022
It’s impossible to predict who will take the biggest step in their development over the next year, but I can tell you who needs to.
This upcoming season is hugely important for Butler. If the Jazz are fully rebuilding, it’s going to give Butler all the opportunity he needs in order to become a legitimate NBA player, and if he doesn’t make strides it would be a really bad sign and have a huge impact on his career.
I read somewhere that the jazz can’t trade any of the players received from the Gobert trade until Sept 6. This might slow the DM trade down. I can’t confirm this. Can you?— MarchantJW (@MarchantJw) July 31, 2022
Players whose salaries were combined in the Rudy Gobert trade cannot be traded together for two months following the trade, but they can be traded individually.
So, Patrick Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt’s salaries cannot be combined to trade for another player until Sept. 6 (two months following the official trade that brought them to Utah from the Minnesota Timberwolves), but Beverley can be individually traded to any team on his own and the same is true of Vanderbilt, Beasley and Leandro Bolmaro.
All that being said, negotiations and deals are made before they can really be done all the time in the NBA, so technically the Jazz could make a deal in principle that combines the salaries of the players received in the Gobert trade and then just not officially execute the trade until Sept. 6.