As the NBA trade deadline draws ever closer — the deadline is Thursday, Feb. 9 — conversation has steadily grown about the Utah Jazz, specifically which players the Jazz might look to unload this year.
Nationally, there remains an expectation that Utah will be a seller at the deadline, despite the Jazz currently sitting a game over .500, only a game and a half out of fourth place in the Western Conference standings, with the Atlanta Hawks coming to town.
(If the playoffs started today, the Jazz would be in the play-in tournament as the No. 9 seed).
Deseret News Utah Jazz beat writer Sarah Todd has already written about which players may or may not be on the move from a Jazz perspective — you can read her detailed analysis here — but what are national voices saying?
Mike Conley a good fit with the LA Clippers?
On a recent episode of the Lowe Post Podcast, ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Tim MacMahon discussed the Jazz at length.
- MacMahon emphasized that it remains Year 1 of a rebuild for the Jazz, albeit a much more enjoyable season than what usually takes place early in the rebuilding process.
- Per MacMahon, the Jazz have interest in Dallas forward Dorian Finney-Smith, although a deal is high unlikely.
- Echoing Todd, MacMahon noted that Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler are basically untouchable, along with rookie Ochai Agbaji.
- Lowe believes the Jazz will be sellers at the deadline and that the rest of the roster is available — outside the aforementioned three players — including key veterans like Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson and Kelly Olynyk.
- Both ESPN analysts believe the Jazz will not gut the roster in an attempt to gain a higher draft pick, though. “It’s too late for that,” Lowe said.
- Most likely to get trade, per MacMahon? Jarred Vanderbilt. “I do think Vanderbilt is valued around the league,” MacMahon said.
- Lowe believes Malik Beasley is a prime trade candidate — rumors usually have him involved in a package deal with Vanderbilt — due to his outside shooting.
- Lowe tabbed the New Orleans Pelicans as a possible destination for Vanderbilt and Beasley.
- MacMahon reported that Mike Conley to the LA Clippers isn’t likely to happen, though that trade would be of great benefit to LA and Conley would be open to that particular move.
Portland eyeing Jarred Vanderbilt?
Lowe and MacMahon aren’t the only ones who’ve discussed Jazz trades recently. On Thursday, Shams Charania, senior lead NBA Insider for The Athletic and Stadium, reported that the Portland Trail Blazers have real interest in acquiring Vanderbilt from the Jazz.
- The news didn’t come as a complete surprise, as noted by Todd on Twitter, as Portland star Damian Lillard said in September that Vanderbilt was a player he would like to play with, along with Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges and Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby.
- Charania reported that Portland is considered a “strong suitor” for Vanderbilt and is but one of a few teams that have shown interest in acquiring the Jazz forward.
Russell Westbrook to Utah?
The Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly had conversations regarding Lakers’ sixth man Russell Westbrook.
- Per Bleacher Reports’ Chris Haynes, those talks have been “exploratory.”
- Haynes added, though — for Jazz fans not overly enthused at the idea of adding Westbrook — that the Lakers “are said to be in communication with most teams to sift through the most reasonable and logical options available.”
- The Lakers are also trying to acquire former Utah sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic — Los Angeles has been reportedly interested in Bogdanovic since before Utah even traded him to Detroit last summer.
- Per Haynes, “there is league-wide skepticism on whether the Pistons are really willing to unload the nine-year veteran,” however, at least for anything less than an unprotected first round pick.
Kelly Olynyk targeted by Celtics and Heat?
Before the season began, Jazz center Kelly Olynyk was viewed as something of a short term option in Utah, and multiple teams who Olynyk has already played for reportedly would like to bring him back into the fold.
- Per Heavy Sports’ Steve Bulpett, both the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat are interested in trading for Olynyk.
- Bulpett wrote that the Celtics are “still trying to learn what it would take to get Olynyk from the Jazz.”
- A source told Bulpett that neither the Celtics nor the Heat will “be able to meet what Utah wants for Olynyk.”
- “I don’t think Boston really has anything to trade that they’d actually want to give up — or what they’d need to give up for Olynyk,” the source said. “I’m not sure Utah... has much real interest in (Payton) Pritchard, and forget about Grant (Williams).”