After the NBA Draft’s conclusion on Wednesday night, the Utah Jazz will have less than 48 hours before the opening of free agency on Friday.
In addition to working out a deal to re-sign Jordan Clarkson, the Jazz will have the mid-level exception ($9.3 million) and the bi-annual exception ($3.6 million) to work with in order to bring in free agents.
Who the Jazz target on the free-agent market could largely be determined by their selection in the draft. For example, if they choose to take a bigger post player in the draft, it could lead to them targeting wings in free agency, or vice versa.
Below are five players that the Jazz could consider when the free agent window opens:
Coming off a $5.4 million contract with the Phoenix Suns and a 2019-20 season which was the best of his career, Aron Baynes is a player that is popularly discussed by Jazz fans as a free-agent target and one that I’ve written about before, for good reason.
Baynes is a strong, bully-ball type big who is a double-double threat even when he’s coming off the bench. But, it’s not just his interior game that makes him a valuable free agent. The Aussie is also a threat from outside and shot 35.1% from 3 on four attempts per game last season.
Depending on who else gets in on the bidding war for Baynes, he could end up taking up the entirety of the MLE, but would be worth it, especially for a team who is desperate for his skillset.
The Jazz front office is fully aware of their defensive deficiencies and know that they need to beef things up. Once Rudy Gobert steps off the court, there is a precipitous decline and lackluster rim defense. Baynes can help there and then also add the element of being a stretch five, the type of player not currently on the Jazz roster.
Though 33 years old might seem like a high age for a center, Baynes has proven that he has just hit his prime and continues to improve and expand his game every season. Additionally, Baynes is well-known for being a great teammate and leader on the teams he has been on despite being on some tumultuous (the Kyrie Irving Boston Celtics) and struggling (young Phoenix Suns) rosters.
If the Jazz are able to sign Baynes, it would be a huge boon for the team and would immediately calm concerns about the bench going forward.
If the Jazz are unable to land Baynes, want to split the MLE across multiple players or are looking for minimum salary guys to fill up the roster, Chris Boucher could be the answer. Boucher has been lightly used by the Toronto Raptors for the past two seasons but he doesn’t seem to be a part of their long-term plans, especially if they end up keeping Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka on the roster.
I thought that the Jazz might have looked at Boucher at the trade deadline last season, but now they could have him on the cheap and wouldn’t have to give up anything in return.
Like I said, he wasn’t used a lot by the Raptors, and has yet to prove himself much, but the 27-year-old’s per-36 numbers from 2019-20 are super impressive; 18.1 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, and he’s not afraid to shoot from deep. He’d be a little bit of a risky option but so was Ed Davis, and at least Boucher is young and still improving and a super-low risk financially.
It’s unclear what the Detroit Pistons are going to do with Langston Galloway. They have his full bird rights, but they are also primed to be one of the most active teams in free agency and have a lot of other decisions to make. If the Pistons and Galloway can’t make a deal, then he could probably be had for the MLE or maybe a little less coming off a 2019-20 season with a salary of $7.3 million.
At first glance, this might be a signing that doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Jazz. Galloway is a 6-foot-1 guard who plays a lot of point. But the Jazz are also in need of someone who can speed around screens and fit the prototype of a 3-and-D wing. Galloway can give you that. He’s very quietly becoming a scrappy player that is as tough of a cover as he is a defender.
If the price were to go much higher for him, I would probably look elsewhere, and there’s certainly a chance that Detroit could keep him, but it doesn’t hurt to inquire.
If there is a way to get Joe Harris for the MLE, the Jazz should do it and this might be the only year in which it can be done.
Spending is going to be down across the board, and this year is so fickle and weird that it does give a little glimmer of hope for landing guys like Harris. And, who even knows what the Brooklyn Nets are doing? By the time I finish this sentence they could have traded for James Harden.
With all that could be changing in Brooklyn, the turnaround from free agency and training camp, plus the spending restrictions and uncertainty of the future, now is the time to strike.
Harris is exactly the type of player the Jazz would love to have and is one of the best shooters in the league. While he isn’t the best defensively, he absolutely competes and has been known to stop a few people when it really counts.
As Joe Ingles ages and understandably slows down, it makes sense to get in someone else who fits that mold, and why not get another Joe who absolutely can shoot the lights out?
Though he is a restricted free agent, there’s absolutely reason to believe that the guard-heavy Chicago Bulls will be parting ways with Shaquille Harrison.
If I’m being totally honest, Harrison wasn’t really on my radar for players to watch when considering the Jazz in free agency until a few readers started making some noise about him in my Twitter mentions, but now I think it could be a good match.
He’s a defensively savvy, 6-foot-7 guard who seems really ready to be given rotational minutes and some stability. Like Boucher, his per-36 numbers are really great and he’s improving everyday.
It’s likely that the Jazz are going to let Emmanuel Mudiay walk in free agency. With that in mind, Harrison, who can handle the ball, run point, and play shooting guard (hitting 38% from beyond the arc) could be a really cheap answer to fill in the gaps on the lower end of the bench while still offering some upside.