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Utah Jazz mailbag: Are these familiar faces realistic options in free agency?

SHARE Utah Jazz mailbag: Are these familiar faces realistic options in free agency?

New Orleans Pelicans’ Derrick Favors (22) looks to pass against the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Ashley Landis, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — As we near the end of the 2019-20 NBA season (it’s only taken us an entire calendar year to get here), it’s only natural to start talking in earnest about free agency and what kind of moves the Utah Jazz could look to make.

When I put out the call with this week’s mailbag prompt, asking for Jazz fans to send me the free agent names they find intriguing, there were a couple of trends that became crystal clear.

First of all, Jazz Nation wants Derrick Favors back. That was never really in question, but as free agency nears, the fans yearning for Favors’ skillset is becoming more and more intense. At least half of the people who responded to me brought up Favors.

Beyond Favors there are a handful of other guys who used to play for the Jazz that keep popping up. Next week we’ll go through some of the other free agent possibilities, but this week let’s talk about some familiar faces.

Anyone who has been craving Favors since he was traded away to create cap space for the Bojan Bogdanovic signing last summer is absolutely not alone. That craving became even more ravenous when the Ed Davis experiment failed in Utah.

There’s no doubt about it, Favors’ size, athleticism, reliability, familiarity with Quin Snyder’s system, and proven track record would be welcomed re-additions to the Jazz roster, and it has been reported numerous times that there is interest on both Favors’ part and from the Jazz brass to bring him back into the fold.

Mutual interest, however, is not the only thing it takes to get an NBA deal done.

Favors made $17.6 million this season and is on track for more. If the Jazz were to go after Favors with the mid-level exception, it wouldn’t just be a small pay cut for the the 10-year veteran. Since the MLE is likely to be less than the originally projected $9.7 million for the 2020-21 season, the Jazz would be offering less than half what Favors is set to make and to be perfectly honest, much less than he’s worth.

Not only that, but Favors would be looking at a decreased role if he were to join the Jazz. That decreased role might be offset by the fact that he loves Utah and would want to be here regardless of the minutes he plays, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Jazz would be offering such a small salary.

I know that this all seems like a very Debbie Downer take, and for the sake of Jazz fans I hope that I’m wrong, but getting Favors back with the MLE doesn’t seem like a realistic option.

And getting Favors for the bi-annual exception (roughly $3 million) is about as likely as me signing an NBA contract for the same amount.

To be frank, I don’t think Paul Millsap is a good choice for the Jazz.

Let’s talk about the money. Millsap was Denver’s highest paid player for the 2019-20 season, at $30 million. First of all, that’s too much for him and I feel confident in saying that he won’t be making near that much next season, and I’m sure that he knows it. But I still think that the Jazz would have to offer the full MLE to have a shot at Millsap and even then I don’t know that it’s worth it.

Millsap has been an incredibly consistent producer even as his numbers slowly decline. He’s efficient and could offer a front court perimeter threat for the Jazz. But, Millsap is 35 and will be 36 in February, which will probably be the early days of the 2020-21 season.

He is on the tail end of his career and has been dealing with nagging injuries over the last couple of seasons. The Jazz need to find more youthful players that will be able to withstand a significant defensive beating and bring a boost during the postseason.

Now that I’ve completely crushed dreams, let’s look at a couple of past Jazz players who are very realistic options this offseason.

Jae Crowder was a part of the trade that brought Mike Conley to Utah, part of the Jazz’s plans to become a more productive offensive team and a part of the defensive sacrifice that the Jazz made last summer.

Now he’s in the NBA Finals and a starter on the Miami Heat team that he joined at the trade deadline. He continues to prove that he is one of the switchy 3-and-D players that teams covet.

If the 2020-21 NBA season was going to be a normal season then Crowder would be looking at a huge raise from his current $7.8 million salary. But there aren’t a lot of teams out there with money, and with the salary cap likely to stay the same or take a dip, the MLE could get Crowder back into a Jazz uniform.

If anyone, including the Utah Jazz, wants to sign Wesley Matthews it will mean that he doesn’t want to be in Milwaukee. He has a player option for next season so it’s totally up to him.

Let’s say that he opts out and is willing to move elsewhere. Matthews could be had for the BAE or part of the MLE depending on what the market dictates. He’s probably going to have other former teams vying for his attention, like the Portland Trail Blazers, and the maybe even the Dallas Mavericks.

Maybe the defensive wing will do a favor for the team that gave him a chance back in 2009 when he went undrafted. Maybe.

If you would like to have your question answered, you can send it to me at stodd@deseretnews.com with “mailbag” in the subject line, or you can send it to me via Twitter @NBASarah.