Salt City Hoops » Denim Millward http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:09:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Denim Millward http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com How Important is Passing? http://saltcityhoops.com/how-important-is-passing/ http://saltcityhoops.com/how-important-is-passing/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 01:08:49 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12314 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Being that most of you are all supporters of the former team of the NBA all-time assists leader and one of the greatest passers in history, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you know a thing or two about passing.

Passing, unselfishness and ball movement are some of the first aspects of the game youth league coaches make every effort to hammer home; a mantra that is repeated ad nauseum at every level of competitive basketball.  With the natural inclination to ballhog that seemingly exists within each and every one of us early on, it certainly makes sense.

In high school and college basketball, crisp passing and quick ball movement can go a long way to even the odds against teams with superior athleticism or talent, but in the NBA where the cream of the crop has been plucked from college and international play, does it still matter?

Of course it does.  But to what extent?

Prior to beginning research on this post, I hypothesized that there was a distinct correlation between team passing proficiency (measured by total number of assists in a season) and playoff appearances.  While an analysis of the past five seasons didn’t bear out as strong of a link as I would’ve guessed, it did point out a number of interesting things.  Over the past five years, an average of about 10 of the 16 playoff teams have been in the top half of the league in assists.  More interesting was a quick perusal of the playoff teams during that span who were well below league average in assists yet still made the playoffs.  Among teams that made the finals in the past five years, six have been top ten in assists.   Almost without exception, the teams closer to the bottom of the league in assists had either excellent defensive numbers (Memphis), one or more players who were very good to great in isolation and able to create their own shot with ease (Oklahoma City), or some combination of the two (Indiana).  While not being a better-than-average team in the league assist-wise certainly wasn’t a death knell to a team’s playoff chances, it certainly had to be made up for in spades in other areas.  The lower a playoff team ranked in assists, the demonstrably better they were in other areas.  Conversely, for any team devoid of a Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook that also didn’t have the defensive prowess of Tony Allen and Marc Gasol on which they could rely, good to great assist numbers were almost always present when such a team overachieved and snagged a playoff spot.

Passing proficiency and importance cannot be measured by assist numbers alone.  Even on plays which will almost certainly not add another assist to the box score, passing can be critical.  For example, let us hearken back to the days of the Jazz offense running through Big Al in the low post.  Good ball movement prior to the entry pass made it significantly harder for defenses to cheat over towards Jefferson in preparation for a troublesome double team.  After Jefferson got position on his defender, delivering an on-target entry pass was crucial.  An errant pass could knocked away or cause Big Al to lose his position, which subsequently could result in a much lower-percentage shot being taken if not a totally busted play.

The new Quin Snyder-led Jazz regime understands how crucial being an excellent passing team is, a fact clearly indicated by the immediate emphasis placed on passing and ball movement.  Deseret News beat writer Jody Genessy eloquently detailed this new emphasis in an article posted July 19.  Snyder’s quote from this article regarding passing eloquently yet succinctly sums up his “play with a pass” philosophy.

Just the idea of the ball movement. If you run 100 feet and I pass 100 feet, I’m going to win. The ball moves faster than people’s feet,” Snyder explained. “When you play with a pass, hopefully it keeps the defense guessing and on the move.”  This emphasis on passing can potentially add a tremendous amount of synergy when combined with the lack of a bona fide number one scoring option, as well as the ability to play Dante Exum and Trey Burke together  in the back court.

A laser-like focus on precise and quick ball movement, while smart for any NBA team, certainly seems like the best way to go with a young and balanced team like the Jazz.

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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The Pitfalls and Promises of Summer League http://saltcityhoops.com/the-pitfalls-and-promises-of-summer-league/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-pitfalls-and-promises-of-summer-league/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 00:00:46 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12232 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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 (AP Photo/David Becker)

(AP Photo/David Becker)

Nearly three months after the Utah Jazz ended its 2013-14 with a thrilling double-overtime defeat of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Jazz at last took to the court in the first competition against another team Saturday night.  Though the Las Vegas Summer League has a fraction of the collective talent of the NBA, with half the participants long shots to register a single minute in the NBA next season, the first Utah Jazz contest following the long layoff was an oasis in the desert for thirsty Jazz fans.

I’ve been a huge fan of Summer League basketball ever since attending my first of several Rocky Mountain Revues in the summer 0f 2007.  Though Jazz fans turned out in droves to see hot-shooting rookie Morris Almond, the highest-profile player at the Revue was a gangly, baby-faced Supersonics rookie named Kevin Durant.  The day I attended the Revue, the Jazz just happened to be playing Durant and his Sonics.

Honestly, I was underwhelmed by Durant as well as his performance.  Perhaps it was the massive hype heaped upon the fabulous freshman who was fresh off wowing fans of the Texas Longhorns basketball program that increased my expectations, but nonetheless, not much about his game jumped out at me.  He didn’t knock down many of his shots, seemed almost timid at times, and was not at all memorable on the defensive end of the floor.  Maybe everyone was wrong about Durant.  Conversely, I remember being very excited with second-year Jazz point guard Dee Brown, and also thought rookie center Kyrylo Fesenko and his bull-in-a-china-shop style was just what we needed.

Do you see what I’m getting at here?

It’s not exactly a CIA-protected secret that Summer League performances, both great and poor, can have way too much importance foisted upon them.  Rookie jitters, inexperience and bad match-ups can and have made future all-stars look quite shaky compared to their defenders who had much dimmer NBA futures.  Hot shooting and good match-ups can grossly over-inflate a given player’s perceived skills.  Sure, it’s reasonable for someone who sets the record for scoring in an NBA Summer League game to be christened the newest discovered diamond in the rough, ready to  burst out of fringe NBA obscurity and make a splash in the Association.  Though he has gone on to have a respectable NBA, the record-holder in question, Anthony Morrow isn’t even a current NBA starter, let alone All-Star or household name.  A quick perusal through the top 10-20 scoring performances in summer league history will confirm that, other than a few names here and there, the vast majority of names on the list are current role-players, first-round busts, has-beens and never-weres.

So if statistical performances on either end of the spectrum are rarely indicative of future NBA performance, what aspects of Summer League are?  Can anything about how a player does in Summer League give us a sneak peek into that player’s future?  While that’s difficult to say, it seems that certain things lend small clues as to how a player may do later on against stiffer competition.  One thing that translates most directly is hustle.  If a player has the drive to sprint down the court at full-speed to attempt a chase-down block or dive for a loose ball in front of a handful of fans and executives in a small gym, you can be damn sure they’ll be amped up enough to put forth the same effort against world-class competition in front of 20,000+ fans during the regular season/playoffs.  Certain other basketball skills that aren’t significantly affected by a higher level of competition are more likely to translate from summer league to regular season NBA competition as well.  Things like speed, foot work and jumping ability are constant regardless of competition.  For example, let’s take our very own Dante Exum and his blazing speed, over which we’re still all drooling, for example.  Exum is just as fast running from one end of the court to the other virtually regardless of who’s guarding him.  Yes, defenders in the NBA will be more able to impede Exum’s path and keep up with him, but going from a end-of-the-bench summer league defender to an NBA elite defender will not make Exum’s speed anything less than elite.

Even still, the fact remains that nearly everything will be much easier in Summer League than it is in the NBA due to the inferior level of competition.  Good performances, and more specifically certain aspects of them, may give us some clue of where a player is now and where he may be able to get to some day with enough hard work, dedication and luck.  Sadly, we have yet to concoct a formula that will definitively predict the caliber of NBA player a player will become.  We still have to wait until the games are played, the stats are compiled and the contests are won or lost.  NBA Summer League basketball is what it is: an opportunity for fans to get their first looks of their team’s shiny new toy.  It’s a proving ground for hungry players trying to break through to the plane of NBA relevancy.  It’s a refreshing proverbial drink of water  to slake the thirst of parched NBA fans and tide them over until the preseason begins.  It should be consumed, enjoyed and even celebrated.

Just don’t take it too seriously.

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Bias in Evaluation: Can We View Our Own Players Fairly? http://saltcityhoops.com/bias-in-evaluation-can-we-view-our-own-players-fairly/ http://saltcityhoops.com/bias-in-evaluation-can-we-view-our-own-players-fairly/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 20:36:25 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12126 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Sometimes fans, just like Devin Harris here, can love a team's own players too much. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Sometimes fans, just like Devin Harris here, can love a team’s own players too much. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Bias: a particular tendency or inclination, especially one that prevents unprejudiced  consideration of a question; prejudice.
– Dictionary.com

 

Show me a person who claims the ability to evaluate NBA talent with pure objectivity, and I’ll show you a liar.  The fact that bias comes into play in nearly every facet of judging an NBA player makes it downright impossible to wring every ounce of subjectivity out of your analysis.  This is especially true when discussing members of your favorite team; for most of you, that’s obviously the Utah Jazz, and boy do we know how to morph, twist and spin statistics to fit our subjective opinions.

As Jazz fans, it’s harder for us to give an objective opinion on our own players primarily due to our familiarity with the players.  As we watch hour after hour of interviews and game footage and read several Jazz-related articles each week, we began to cobble together a concept of who our players are as human beings as opposed to statistic generators or tradeable commodities.  Attachment to or disdain for said player will follow, and our liking or disliking of a player drastically shapes the aspects of their game we notice and retain.  It’s not exactly groundbreaking science to assert that the portions of a player’s game we’ll more easily remember directly correlate to how we feel about him. It’s easy to ignore Richard Jefferson’s solid outside shooting if you found his comments about wanting to chase a ring next year off-putting.  Conversely, if you like Alec Burks’ cool-and-confident attitude, it’s easy to fixate on his elite ability to get to and finish at the rim while turning a blind eye to aspects of his game that aren’t developed yet.

Nowhere is this familiarity bias currently more evident than with the subject of matching offer sheets for Gordon Hayward.  The former Butler Bulldog and current video game enthusiast is a restricted free agent and is receiving more interest than a pay day loan joint.  With numerous teams showing anywhere from cursory interest to flying him in for interviews, Hayward getting an offer sheet above his projected value, even up to a full max offer, is firmly within the realm of possibility.  Interestingly enough, the effects of the familiarity bias in regards to Hayward can be seen in arguments for and against retaining Hayward.  On one end of the spectrum, some argue that Hayward is fully worth max money, and that there should be zero pause or consideration when it comes to matching a max offer. Conversely, I’ve seen one Jazz fan argue that Hayward should be allowed to walk and could be replaced by signing Evan Turner.  (These were both opinions issued by just a few people, so each opinion should be taken with an entire shaker of salt.)

So how can we ensure we’re fairly evaluating Jazz players?  While there’s no black-and-white mathematical formula that can be followed to calculate the exact value of a player, a few steps can be taken to ensure we are fairly assessing players.  First, notice I said “fairly evaluating” and not “accurately evaluating.”  Yes, we can say player X is better than player Y in some very obvious cases, but if players X and Y are anywhere remotely close, or if it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison,  who is “better” is an exercise in subjectivity.  Again, while very good ratings systems such as the ones developed by John Hollinger, David Locke and Kevin Pelton exist, even those differ in the weight given to each aspect of a player’s game.  That being said, here are a few tips to minimize bias and ensure a fair rating of players on your favorite team.

 

1.  Compare Stats

Statistics are the most effective tool to use when comparing and evaluating players.  While statistics don’t always tell the whole story, comparing the stats of similar players in similar situations will usually give the best indication of a player’s performance relative to his comparable peers.  When evaluating statistics, look at the largest sample size possible, and avoid picking and choosing partial chunks of statistics that aren’t representative of the larger sample size.

2.  Take all variables into account

Is Thaddeus Young racking up 18 points and 6 rebounds in a whole lot of garbage time definitively better than Boris Diaw scoring 13 points and grabbing 6 boards for the world champion Spurs?  Certainly, valid arguments could be made in favor of either player; the point is, the higher number doesn’t automatically equal a superior performance.  While comparing statistics is a great starting point, it’s also important to look beyond box scores.  What is the player’s role on a team?  Is the player’s offense up-tempo, or do they predominantly play in half-court sets?  How do the player’s overall statistics compare to his statistics per-36-minutes? In what ways does the player contribute positively or negatively to the game that aren’t reflected in a box score? The more variables that can be considered and taken into account, the more complete a picture of the player’s strengths and weaknesses you will have.

3.  Give appropriate weight to all aspects of a player’s game

It’s okay to be excited about the addition of sharpshooter Steve Novak to Utah’s offensively-challenged second unit.  That being said, don’t forget about his defensive deficiencies.  Focusing solely on a player’s strengths and conveniently ignoring weaknesses, or vice-versa, will always result in an incomplete and unfair evaluation.  Again, there is widespread differing in the basketball community over the importance of certain statistics and skills, a factor that makes properly weighting skills tricky.

Bias and subjectivity are inescapable in player evaluation.  However, following these rules will go a long way towards compiling an accurate idea of how valuable a given player is.

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Free Agency Preview: How Does the Draft Affect Potential Targets? http://saltcityhoops.com/free-agency-preview-how-does-the-draft-affect-potential-targets/ http://saltcityhoops.com/free-agency-preview-how-does-the-draft-affect-potential-targets/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 04:13:48 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12067 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

We interrupt the collective glow-basking of Jazz fans everywhere following a resoundingly successful draft to look at the next phase of the offseason.

That’s right, fellow Jazz fanatics.  You only have mere minutes left to enjoy the acquisitions of Dante Exum and Rodney Hood before free agency frenzy begins in full swing.  (Adrian Wojnarowski is chugging a 55-gallon drum of espresso as we speak.)  Now that the draft is over, a much clearer picture is forming in regards to what holes positional and skill-based holes each team will need to look to the free agent pool to fill.

With the selection of the Australian wunderkind Exum, Utah gets an exceedingly young combo guard with a potent combination of size and speed.  Exum is a promising, albeit unproven prospect whose prior level of competition caused many to wonder out loud if his impressive stats and skills are  a product of this lower level of opposing play.  Rodney Hood brings good athleticism and versatile scoring ability to a squad that often struggled to score.  Like Exum, Hood’s strengths lie almost exclusively on the offensive end.  From a pure on-court standpoint, the Jazz could use some defensive assistance from incoming free agents, especially on the perimeter.  There are a handful of free agents who could fit the bill.

Shawn Marion would provide defensive help, but has certainly lost some of the zip on his fastball since is “Matrix” days, and will likely be looking to join a contender.  Avery Bradley and Eric Bledsoe are two restricted free agents who, although would be solid young talent who would immediately shore up Utah’s perimeter defense, are quite unlikely to be pried away from their current teams.  One interesting defensive talent would be Thunder pending free agent Thabo Sefolosha.  If you just threw up in your mouth after remembering his performance in the Western Conference semifinals, I sincerely apologize.  After seemingly forgetting how to shoot, Sefolosha’s stock has never been lower.  If coach Snyder and his staff have faith in themselves to correct Sefolosha’s offensive woes, he could be a good value.

From a development and off-court standpoint, the Jazz will likely be targeting established veterans who, in addition to having solid work ethics and good habits to pass along, have professional and positive attitudes.  These intangibles can be invaluable for members of a team that’s as young and impressionable as Utah to have.  As I don’t have unfettered access to every NBA locker room to see the interactions between players behind closed doors, it’s a bit more difficult to peg down just who fits this bill that Utah could be targeting outside of oft-repeated anecdotes and what has been reported.  By many accounts, one person who fits the good person and good habits role is Utah’s own pending free agent Marvin Williams.  Williams looks like an ideal mentor to Hood, who has a similar build and somewhat similar skill set to Williams.  Utah Jazz radio commentator David Locke repeatedly raved about the class and professionalism with which Williams conducted himself; what better influence to have around a handful of still-developing players who are all hovering just above or just below the legal drinking age in Utah?

Though Hood figures to help boost Utah’s shooting numbers a few notches, Utah’s 25th-ranked offense in ’13-’14 could use some knock-down shooters who won’t break the bank. Mike Miller from Memphis could fit the bill.  The 34-year-old played in all 82 games for the Grizzlies and clocked about 20 minutes-per-game while shooting a crisp 45% from behind the arc, good for 2nd in the league behind former Jazz man Kyle Korver.  Matt Bonner from San Antonio will likely not be brought back after seeing sparse playing time this season, and is a three-point specialist whose work Jazz fans are familiar with from the numerous times he went 6-7 from three-point land against Utah.  While his contributions would largely be one-dimensional, a steady long-distance shooter would be even more valuable after adding a speedy player like Exum.  The slash-and-kick possibilities are endless!

Spencer Hawes is another, more versatile option.  A 7-footer who can stretch the floor, Hawes hit threes at a 41.6% clip last season for the Sixers and Cavs, and could add a veteran to Utah’s front court as at least a placeholder until Kanter and/or Gobert develop into reliable starters.  The competing offers for Hawes will likely include more years and money than the other previously mentioned candidates.

Oh, I forgot one last possibility.

jimmer

 

Happy free agency, everyone!

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Too Much Youth? Integrating Rookies Into an Already-Young Lineup http://saltcityhoops.com/too-much-youth-integrating-rookies-into-an-already-young-lineup/ http://saltcityhoops.com/too-much-youth-integrating-rookies-into-an-already-young-lineup/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 14:13:00 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com?p=11923&preview_id=11923 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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With players like Trey Burke still developing, how will the Jazz handle adding even more youth? (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

With players like Trey Burke still developing, how will the Jazz handle adding even more youth? (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Utah Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey and his staff will have a unique problem to deal with when the Jazz are on the clock for the June 26th NBA Draft.  With five projected starters who are all still considered young up-and-comers as well as a few more basketball babies further down the bench and overseas, Utah has young talent at every position.  With an abundance of youth, and consequently potential, this “problem” is one many GMs in rebuilding situations would sell an internal organ or two to have.  However, there are plenty of challenges and complications involved in the task of balancing the egos, self-esteem levels and developmental needs of 7-10 young players, all of whom are hopefully not anywhere near hitting their respective ceilings.

With the Jazz currently slotted to pick at #5 in the upcoming draft, there is a reasonable chance they’ll be adding another player who is capable of starting (or perhaps even expects to start immediately). Again, this is an enviable problem, but with an early-to-mid-20s building block at every position, will the addition of another high draft pick crowd out an existing player or impede their development?  Will the apparent incumbent at the draftee’s position interpret the pick as a show of the front office’s lack of confidence? There are plenty of psychological ramifications the pick could have on the rest of the roster as Lindsey looks to add the best player.

There are a number of ways to handle the situation, two of which I’ll analyze in this post.

Option 1: Add more youth and let it play out

Borrowing from a gridiron colleague, Lindsey could adopt a Belichickian approach to the situation and simply choose the best player available, let the draftee and the existing players battle it out in training camp and preseason, and then start whoever performed better.

This tactic would allow the team to maintain its young depth and assets while they hang on to all of their proverbial lottery tickets to see which gambles pay out, giving the team more time to see if one or more of the players become All-Star caliber. The downside is the risk that a player who loses out on the starting gig doubts himself as a result and/or inwardly resents the team for it, both of which would likely result in worse play and possibly stunted development.

Even if the player who loses out on the starting spot is a consummate professional and takes his bench role in stride, the question would still stand as to whether or not the current construct of the roster is truly maximizing the value of the assets Lindsey and the Jazz have painstakingly acquired.  An entire year was essentially sacrificed when Lindsey made the decision last offseason to utilize nearly all of Utah’s cap space by taking on three contracts from Golden State, netting extra picks and rolling over that cap space to this offseason.  While this may be a bit presumptuous, it seems unlikely that a roster devoid of an All-Star-caliber player and supersaturated with youth was the reward Lindsey had in mind when he committed to the rebuild with that trade.

Option 2: Combine assets into a trade package and go for a star

Lindsey’s willingness to wheel and deal already well demonstrated, the second option to addressing the youth surplus would be to make another trade or two, this time with the goal of netting a higher-caliber player. An argument could be made that this is also the most likely course of action judging by Lindsey’s propensity for dealmaking, the current makeup of the Jazz roster and the challenges that small-market teams such as the Jazz face when attempting to attract marquee players.

With three potential franchise players headlining the 2014 draft, the Jazz may have the option of trading up for the likes of Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins instead of targeting an established star player (such as the allegedly available Kevin Love or Rajon Rondo) should they believe that one of the three top-tier draftees can ultimately be a franchise player.  Many of the established stars who are rumored to be on the trading block have only a year or two remaining on their current deals, so their potential hesitance or even refusal to sign an extension with the Jazz makes trading up for a higher draft pick a more likely path at landing a star. The Jazz could go that path for their marquee talent, who can then be locked up for four years on a rookie contract.

Of course, this is only a viable option to add a star if there’s a team willing to trade down. The rumor mill right now would indicate that everybody’s talking and nobody’s dealing quite yet. Still, if one of those guys with generational talent potential becomes available via trade, the Jazz could be at the front of the line with their stockpile of picks and talent.

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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3 Jazz Players Who Will Benefit Most From Quin Snyder http://saltcityhoops.com/3-jazz-players-who-will-benefit-most-from-quin-snyder/ http://saltcityhoops.com/3-jazz-players-who-will-benefit-most-from-quin-snyder/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 01:12:11 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11831 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Central among the many frustrations Jazz fans struggled with last year was the seemingly slow or non-existent improvement and development of several young players on the roster.  Chock-full of potential and expected to be key components of an eventual competitive Jazz squad, the core players could use a coach with strong player development and communication skills to reach their full potential.  Ultimately, potential that is never converted into tangible ability and skill is worthless.

With the hiring of Quin Snyder, who received nearly-unanimous high marks in the player development and communication areas, it bodes very well for the cadre of young Jazz players who still have plenty of growing to do.  If Snyder lives up to his ambitiously high expectations, every player on the roster won’t be able to help but benefit.  However, three players stand to gain the most from their new coach:

3.  Trey Burke

While Burke played with plenty of poise and made decisions that belied his age and inexperience, he still has plenty of room for improvement, specifically with his shooting percentage.  Burke shot just 41% from the field and 33% from behind the arc in his rookie campaign.  While Snyder isn’t known for being a whiz with shooting mechanics, he can help Burke improve his decision making, which should lead to a reduction in contested-low percentage shots.  Also, when run correctly, Snyder’s intricate offense will lead to an increase in open shots for Burke. A lack of elite size and speed, two of Trey’s biggest weaknesses, can be lessened or even negated via a joint effort on the part of Trey and Snyder via adding specific wrinkles to Snyder’s offensive sets and the consistent effective execution of said offense.  Trey has demonstrated the moxie and basketball intelligence required in quickly picking up a complex offense such as the one Snyder is likely to implement, and a tweet sent out by Burke following his initial meeting with Snyder indicates the two hit it off right away:

2.  Derrick Favors

Favors’ combination of size, athleticism and Lamborghini motor have had NBA coaches and executives drooling ever since he declared for the NBA Draft following a year at Georgia Tech.  After a handful of years cutting his teeth in the NBA, Favors has developed into a disruptive force on the defensive end, but still has quite a ways to go to even be considered an above-average offensive player.  While he’s shown flashes of impressive offensive plays that fully utilize his impressive athleticism, he hasn’t perfected a reliable “go-to” move.  Such a move could single-handedly transform Favors from someone to whom the defense rarely needs to pay special attention to an immense headache and matchup nightmare to opposing defenses. This is where Snyder’s enyclopedic offensive knowledge would be greatly utilized.  Favors comes pre-loaded with the ability to execute within offensive sets such as pick-and-roll-based offenses and motion offenses: Snyder simply needs to teach Favors how to better utilize his tools.  By himself and with the assistance of previous coaches, Favors has cobbled together a less-than-ideal offensive identity and skill set.  Essentially, it’s Snyder’s job to disassemble the proverbial moped Favors has built and help him use the same tools and pieces to carefully craft a luxury car.

1. Enes Kanter

In terms of a coach who can develop players and a player who needs developing, Kanter and Snyder are a better combination than peanut butter and chocolate. Anyone who watched more than a few Jazz games last season should be keenly aware of the rollercoaster ride Kanter can take Jazz fans on on a nightly basis.

Kanter can wow fans and befuddle defenders with some impressive footwork on a post move and then look utterly lost on a defensive rotation on the subsequent trip down the floor.  The majority of Jazz fans still have a soft spot and a fondness for the gregarious and fun-loving Turkish kid, but the frustration level is slowly climbing.  Though his relative newness to the game of basketball (Kanter didn’t pick up a basketball until he was 14) and age-related lack of maturity and discipline all may be temporary impediments to Kanter’s eventual realization of his potential, Snyder will be charged with significantly hastening that process. Make no mistake, it’s a tall order.  Snyder is now responsible for getting Kanter, who mightily struggled at times with a system simpler than what Snyder will be likely to run, up to speed on not only basketball fundamentals, but also on every last bit of detail of what will largely be a brand new scheme.

It should also be pointed out that this isn’t a knock on Kanter’s intelligence, basketball or real-world.  Kanter’s grasp of the English language is a firm one and has noticeably improved each year.  Kanter also comes from good mental stock: his father received his medical degree from the University of Zurich and is currently a Histology professor at Trakya University in Turkey. Yes, it’s a tall order, but one that will reap huge benefits if fulfilled.

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Coaching Profile: Quin Snyder http://saltcityhoops.com/coaching-profile-quin-snyder/ http://saltcityhoops.com/coaching-profile-quin-snyder/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 21:30:36 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11783 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The “Qualifications” section of Quin Snyder’s coaching resume is a mightily impressive one.  Juris Doctor and MBA Degrees, playing and coaching under legendary Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and coaching in the NCAA, NBA and D-League are just some of Snyder’s accomplishments that, on paper, make him look like an ideal candidate for an NBA head coaching job.

His previous head coaching results?  Maybe not quite as much.

Despite a diverse and largely successful 22-year coaching career, Snyder is best known for his run as head coach of the Missouri Tigers men’s basketball squad that, following periods of success, ended somewhat controversially.  Although some consider his final years at and exit from Mizzou a black mark on his resume, Snyder finds himself on the short list of head coaching candidates for the Utah Jazz, according to a report from Deseret News.

Snyder’s coaching career actually began at the NBA level.  After a successful collegiate playing career under Krzyzewski at Duke and in the midst of working on his MBA, Snyder was assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers under Larry Brown.  After his brief NBA foray in Tinseltown, Snyder headed back to Durham, North Carolina and demonstrated impressive multitasking skills by serving as an administrative assistant under Coach K while completing both his MBA and Juris Doctor degrees.  Upon completion of said degrees in 1995, Snyder became a full-time assistant coach for the Blue Devils, and was promoted to associate head coach in 1997. In 1999, Snyder was tabbed to replace coaching legend Norm Stewart as Missouri head coach.  Snyder hit the ground running, significantly overachieving in his inaugural season despite what was thought of as an undermanned roster comprised primarily of Stewart’s recruits.  Snyder’s success continued in succeeding years, highlighted by four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances including an Elite Eight run in 2002.

Snyder’s popularity in Columbia hit a snag when an NCAA investigation into the program revealed multiple incidents of misconduct.  As Snyder’s image declined, so too did the success of the Missouri program.  Though all improprieties uncovered by the investigation were deemed minor, Snyder decided to resign in 2006.  In 2007, Snyder tried his hand at coaching in the D-League, taking over the Austin Toros.  Though he never won a D-League championship in his three-year stay in Austin, Snyder won more and saw more players from his squad get called up than any other coach in the league.  After spending single seasons as an assistant coach in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, this time for the Lakers, Snyder was hired as head assistant coach for CSKA Moscow for the 2012-13 season under Ettore Messina, coincidentally another name loosely tied to the Utah Jazz head coaching job.

Snyder returned to the NBA last season and served as an assistant coach on Mike Budenholzer’s staff for the Atlanta Hawks.  While it’s difficult to measure the impact, positive or negative, that an assistant coach has on a team, former Jazz forward and current Atlanta Hawk DeMarre Carroll gave Snyder a glowing review. “I have to give a shout out to Coach Quin,” Carroll said in an exit interview.  “This is the first year a coach really worked with me on my footwork, my shot, spent time with me. That’s a credit to coach Quin. That shows me that he cares about me as a person, cares about my career.”  

Offensively, Snyder seems to be somewhat of an expert in a variety of areas.  Snyder is an expert at pick-and-roll offenses, as a 2009 FIBA Assist article co-authored by Snyder that discusses nearly every facet of pick-and-roll basketball can attest.  Snyder also created a DVD/video based around his intricate motion offense that was also chock-full of very intricate and very specific details on motion principles, philosophies, rules, drills and myriad other facets of the offense.  With a detail-oriented and cerebral coach like Snyder, previous offensive sets and philosophies may not be a surefire indicator of what Jazz fans could expect Snyder to run in Utah should he land the job.

In several interviews and publications, Snyder has demonstrated a high level of basketball comprehension and effective communication.  It should come as little or no surprise that Snyder has evidently impressed Jazz brass enough in interviews to land on the short list of coaching candidates.  However, it’s unlikely that his inauspicious exit at Missouri will not loom large over the prospect of hiring him.  Are high-level credentials, diverse experience and in-depth offensive knowledge enough to outweigh perceived failure, especially at a lower level of competition than the NBA?

That’s for Dennis Lindsey and Co. to decide.

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Could The Jazz Be Winners Next Season? http://saltcityhoops.com/could-the-jazz-be-winners-next-season/ http://saltcityhoops.com/could-the-jazz-be-winners-next-season/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 23:30:39 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11608 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

No one likes losing.

Painfully obvious observation aside, there are times where a patient, long-term development plan is subject to the unpalatable side-effect of piling up losses in the interim.  The loss of interest among casual fans, dip in ticket sales and decreasing satisfaction of players, coaches and front office personnel, all of which are part and parcel of a losing, can be too bitter a pill to swallow for some even with the knowledge of the (hopeful) eventual payoff.

With young teams clearly in a state of rebuild, as is the case with the Jazz, a heaping helping of losing is nearly inevitable.  That is not to say that roster shakeups and player transactions can’t be utilized to hasten the transformation to contender status.  Judging from comments Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey made during the season, this is precisely what he would like to do.

So what would a so-called “accelerated rebuild” look like?  This strategy would affect every facet of the offseason NBA schedule.  First and foremost, shoveling more coal into the furnace of the rebuild train would almost certainly have to lead to a significant loosening of the Miller family’s purse strings.  There are three major aspects of the offseason roster construction process that could be significantly altered, dependent upon what moves are made.

Free Agent Acquisition

The alternative to the patient route of drafting talent and taking fliers on young, inexpensive free agents with upside is to pony up the dough for proven commodities who can be immediately relied upon to significantly contribute.  The increased expenditure on free agents will roughly be directly proportional to the magnitude the front office would like to expedite the process.  If Lindsey finds himself ready to shell out max contract money, the risk taken by the Jazz in doing so will skyrocket along with the payroll.  Unless Greg Miller is prepared to go full Prokhorov and turn a blind eye to an exorbitant luxury tax, the Jazz can’t afford to be hamstrung with a max contract for a player producing more like a role player.  (See Stoudemire, Amar’e.) An accelerated rebuild could also require trading one or more young assets who have not reached their full potential for an established veteran.  Any such move would also involve a significant financial expenditure and a possible increase in risk.

The list of impending free agents is a long one, but the number of definite and potential free agents who are likely to consider the Jazz a possible destination are significantly fewer and farther between.  LeBron James, who has an early termination option after this season, will undoubtedly be the most sought-after player.  Despite Jimbo Rudding’s Twitter campaign, it’s all but certain LeBron won’t be coming to Utah.  Ditto for Carmelo Anthony.  This leaves the Jazz with a slew of second-tier vets and role players from which to choose.  Names like Luol Deng and Marcin Gortat are tantalizing, but both would likely have to be overpaid to consider Utah. The same goes for Lance Stephenson, with the added complicating factor of Stephenson’s personality and playing style.  The Jazz could make a run at veteran big men on the downside of their respective careers in Pau Gasol and Zach Randolph, but that would also come with a laundry list of questions.  Will the young core peak before the free agent in question completely tails off? It seems that backing up a Brinks truck to the home of a prospective free agent may not be the optimal route for Utah to take.

Trading 2014 Picks

With the treasure trove of assets Lindsey has accumulated, in the form of young players, draft picks and cap space, it seems much more likely and feasible he will choose to combine a good deal of assets in exchange for a franchise player.  There are multiple All-Star caliber players whose deals soon expire and have allegedly expressed either dissatisfaction with their current team or the desire to test free agency.  It seems logical to me that Lindsey gathered his current assets with such a scenario in mind.  Now that there are a few such situations, Lindsey has the ammo to pull the trigger on a deal.

The most notable name who is likely available, and who Grantland’s Bill Simmons asserted will be moved before the Draft is Minnesota’s Kevin Love.  One potential complication with Love and with any other trade target the Jazz would face is the target’s willingness to sign with Utah long-term.  The deal could certainly still be consummated without an extension, but that would significantly increase the risk assumed with the trade.  Would a package of the #5 and #23 picks along with Enes Kanter and a future 1st be sufficient to land Love, especially with other suitors well-stocked with assets (Cleveland) or that are likely more attractive destinations (Golden State?)  A similar package could be offered to Boston for Rajon Rondo, though the Jazz may be hesitant to bring another surly point guard aboard.

One very interesting possibility is Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez.  With vets Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett virtually untradeable, the championship window rapidly shrinking and an impending luxury tax bill about the size of the GDP of Ukraine, the Jazz may be able to obtain Lopez for a good price.  The deal would likely involve a third team, as the Nets would be looking for more immediate impact than a rookie or even a Jazz “Core Four” member may be able to provide.  In a three-team scenario, the Jazz could supply the third team with the rebuilding blocks Brooklyn is so sorely lacking.  In return, the Jazz would get a potential franchise center, albeit one with an extensive injury history.

Keeping the Pick(s)

Accelerating the rebuilding process would also affect who and how Lindsey drafts, albeit to a lesser extent than it would trades and free agency.  The desire to more quickly build a winning program would most likely eliminate the drafting of major projects or foreign players being stashed overseas, especially considering Utah already owns the rights to two high-profile overseas players, Ante Tomic and Raul Neto.  This mindset could come into play as early as Utah’s own first-round draft pick at #5.  If Lindsey wants to win now, foregoing project players with immense upside (Noah Vonleh) in favor of NBA-ready players with arguably lower ceilings (Doug McDermott, Julius Randle) seems likely.

Right out of the gate, Dennis Lindsey proved he’s not afraid to take immense, albeit carefully calculated risks by taking on an enormous sum of salary from Golden State in exchange for future assets.  Lindsey is undoubtedly prepared to pull the trigger on a risk-filled transaction that warps the Jazz closer to contention if he feels it’s the right move.

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Coaching Profile: Fred Hoiberg http://saltcityhoops.com/coaching-profile-fred-hoiberg/ http://saltcityhoops.com/coaching-profile-fred-hoiberg/#comments Mon, 12 May 2014 16:11:06 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11333 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In the team’s first bona-fide coaching search since 1979, could the Jazz turn to a “mayor” to fill the vacancy?

Iowa State men’s head basketball coach Fred Hoiberg, also known as “The Mayor” by his fans, players and his own twitter handle (@ISUMayor32,) has been mentioned by numerous media outlets as a potential candidate to fill one of many vacant head coaching positions in the NBA.  Though only faintly connected to the Jazz via a tweet from Jody Genessy, who covers the Jazz for the Deseret News, Hoiberg is a logical candidate to whom the Jazz front office should give serious consideration.

Hoiberg’s credentials compare favorably to other potential candidates who currently lack NBA head coaching experience.  After a lauded collegiate career at Iowa State, Hoiberg put together a journeyman’s career in the NBA, compiling 10 seasons hoisting threes for the Pacers, Bulls and Timberwolves.  Hoiberg had surgery in June 2005 for a serious heart condition and joined the Timberwolves coaching staff.  In April 2006, Hoiberg formally announced his retirement and took a front office position with the Timberwolves.

Four years later, “The Mayor” returned to Ames, Iowa to take over for the departing Greg McDermott as head coach of the Cyclones.  In his four years at Iowa State, including his inaugural 2010 campaign which saw only four players return to the team, Hoiberg has never had a losing record, and boasts an impressive 90-47 overall record.

Hoiberg has numerous qualities that make him likely to be highly sought after by NBA teams.  At only 41 years of age, Hoiberg has a decade of playing experience, front office experience and four years of demonstrated success as a head coach.  His up-tempo, three-point heavy offense meshes well with the prevailing offensive sentiment in the NBA. Though the Jazz probably don’t possess the three-point shooting prowess at this point to run a Hoiberg-style offense at maximum efficiency, the thought of a world-class finisher like Alec Burks and freakish athlete like Jeremy Evans operating in a fast-paced offense is certainly a tantalizing one.  In addition to the general overall offensive philosophy, Hoiberg’s thick playbook he liberally dips into throughout the season indicates an advanced offensive mind. He runs as close to a pro-style offense as can reasonably run in the NCAA, exactly why Hoiberg’s name has been bandied about with such frequency.

Though he already has a lengthy and diverse portfolio of basketball knowledge and experience, at 41, Hoiberg is young enough to grow along with a young NBA team.  His age, quite young compared to most other NBA coaches, as well as recent experience mentoring college athletes could make it easier for younger roster members to relate to him.  If dozens of videos and articles that feature the 2013-14 Iowa State squad are any indication, Hoiberg has done a superb job of building iron-clad camaraderie within the Cyclone locker room.  Hoiberg’s rapport with his squad is excellent, as ringing an endorsement of his people and communication skills as there is.

As tantalizing the thought of Hoiberg taking the reins of the Jazz is, his ties to Iowa State aren’t easily broken.  The son of an Iowa State sociology professor, Hoiberg grew up within walking distance of Hilton Coliseum.  He received his nickname as a player at Iowa State after his popularity led to him getting numerous write-in votes in the 1993 Ames mayoral race.  The beloved son of Ames is also contractually tied to Iowa State for the foreseeable future after signing a 10-year, $20 million extension in 2013.  If ever there were a coach inextricable from a non-powerhouse university in Smalltown, USA, it’s Hoiberg.

There is a faint glimmer of hope for fans and GMs hoping to lure Hoiberg to the NBA.  Hoiberg’s contract has a $2 million buyout clause if Hoiberg accepts another college coaching job.  However, the buyout is whittled down to $500,000 if Hoiberg bolts Ames for an NBA head coaching gig.  While this is no guarantee Hoiberg will be barking orders from an NBA arena in the 2014-15 season, the existence of the reduced buyout amount appears to indicate that Hoiberg would be interested in calling the shots for an NBA team in the right situation.

With the perfect blend of experience, youthful exuberance and potential, Fred Hoiberg will more than likely be contacted for interviews by multiple teams during the hiring process.  However, between the mutual love and adoration between Hoiberg and Iowa State combined with the lack of confirmed connection between Hoiberg and the Utah Jazz head coaching position, Hoiberg is a fringe candidate for the time being.

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Jazz Unlikely to Make a Move? http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-unlikely-to-make-a-move/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-unlikely-to-make-a-move/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 23:12:21 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10402 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Let me be blunt:  It’s been crystal clear since the first jump ball of the 2013-14 season was tossed into the air that the Jazz weren’t going anywhere this year.  The odds of a playoff run after the departure of Utah’s two best post players were slim, and the chances of even sniffing a small modicum of playoff success were nil.  The age, financial status and collective roster talent (or lack thereof) clearly painted a picture of a young team at or near the bottom of a competitive cycle that was fixated on building for the future.

Despite the .500-level play following the abysmal 1-14 beginning the Jazz had, not much has changed in terms of the apparent long term goals of the team.  GM Dennis Lindsey has shown a desire to stockpile assets coupled with a willingness to pull the trigger on deals that don’t exactly set fans ablaze with excitement, such as the trade with Golden State that brought in Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and Andris Biedrins.  Also high on Lindsey’s priority list is the maintenance of financial flexibility if possible.  Though the deal with Golden State gave away the majority of Utah’s financial flexibility this year, it essentially just rolled the ample cap room over to next year, as all three players acquired from Golden State plus Marvin Williams become free agents.

So what do Utah’s current situation and the known tendencies and goals of the front office predict will happen at the trade deadline?  Before we get into that, let’s take a look at the Jazz’s assets that are most likely to be moved.

Brandon Rush

Rush’s tenure with the Jazz has been subpar at best.  He clearly looks like he’s not totally recovered from his season-ending knee injury from last year, and at times has looked disinterested.  Nonetheless, Rush has shown previously he can provide good perimeter defense and three-point shooting.  At $4 million for this year, Rush may be a decent “3 and D” option for a contender that doesn’t want to break the bank.

Marvin Williams

Williams has been surprisingly good and surprisingly consistent for Utah this year.  Williams should top the list of sought-after players with whom the Jazz could live with parting.  At 7.5 million, he wouldn’t break the bank for most teams, and could make an immediate impact on both ends of the floor.  While Williams has the highest value of all the most likely trade assets on the Jazz, he’s also the most likely to be brought back.  At 27, Williams is still young enough to be part of a rebuilding project, and his versatility makes him a good fit for the Jazz.

Richard Jefferson

Jefferson has had a respectable season, which is much more than many expected out of him.  Despite the good play, it’s clear Jefferson is not in the long-term plans of the Jazz.  It’s a safe bet the Jazz would love to get a little value in return for Jefferson, but his large contract ($11 million) makes trading the former Arizona Wildcat that much more difficult.  The only type of trade that would seem to fit would be an equally bad contract and a draft pick or young project for Jefferson.

Now here comes the bad news for my fellow trade deadline junkies who are already jonesing for a fix:  It’s looking increasingly unlikely the Jazz make any moves before the trade deadline, and here’s why.

Though they could contribute to a contender, neither Williams nor Jefferson are quite good enough or highly enough sought after that any sensible contending team will make any attempt to acquire either player at anything less than a cheap price, let alone overpay.  As for Rush…let’s just say I don’t think we’ll see a queue of Rush fans line up to give up valuable assets for a player who has a lower PER than John Lucas III.  As Lindsey is certainly not the type to make a deal just for the sake of making a deal or accept a lowball offer, the odds of Utah sending one of these players packing grows more and more distant.

This doesn’t mean Lindsey will shy away from playing facilitator again if it allows the team to acquire more young assets, but that is also more difficult now due to the relatively large size of the contracts Utah is willing to move.  Other than the two aforementioned options, the only other trade scenario in which the Jazz would be likely to embark is a very minor trade for an end-of-the-bench player whom they covet.  Though the Jazz front office is legendarily good at keeping movement hush hush, the quiet we’re currently hearing appears to indicate it’ll be another quiet trade deadline for the Jazz.

Don’t fret, trade geeks.  Foregoing deals at the trade deadline seems to make the possibility of a draft night deal being consummated much higher.  That cap space will come in handy too.  Though Utah has never been an ideal free-agent destination, the cap space can still be used to lure some free agents as well as acquire other young players via trade.

In short, expect Lindsey to stand pat unless he’s blown away by an offer, or unless a highly-coveted player becomes available for a reasonable contract.  The real roster reconstruction and personnel fireworks look to start after the conclusion of the season.

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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