As is always the case, it is interesting to see national takes on anything Utah Jazz-related. Naturally there has been a lot of discussion of late regarding the big Jazz/Golden State Warriors trade. In his column analyzing the NBA off-season to this point, Grantland’s Bill Simmons writes the following (tying different quotes from the movie Midnight Run to happenings in the Association):
“Don’t worry, Eddie. For 25 grand I’ll bring him in on a silver platter!”
To the Jazz, who let Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap leave, then assumed $24 million of Andris Biedrins–Richard Jefferson–Brandon Rush cap cloggage from Golden State just to get its unprotected 2014 and 2017 no. 1 picks. I’m all for bottoming out for 2014′s mega-draft and rebuilding around Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Trey Burke and picks/cap space … but $24 million of dead contracts for two first-rounders???? Thanks to Utah for making me feel better about the Celtics taking on three years and $30.3 million of Gerald Wallace’s basketball cadaver. For about four minutes.
Like many other national writers, Simmons sees why Utah made that move–to acquire assets, maintain flexibility, and center around their young core. And like some of his contemporaries, he also thinks the Jazz may have assumed too much money in return for those draft picks. I’m not here today to discuss those nuances of the trade, as that has been excellently covered my by fellow Salt City Hoops friends.
Here’s where I want to focus: Simmons includes Brandon Rush with Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson as “cap cloggage” and “dead contracts.” I respectfully disagree with Rush’s inclusion therein.
You wish to know why? I thought you’d never ask. In my opinion, Brandon Rush was a key part of the trade (along with those first-round picks) and is very much a cog in the now and the future of the Utah Jazz. In fact, his coming to Utah is one of the reasons I am genuinely excited about the upcoming season, which simply cannot arrive soon enough.
Without further ado, here are reasons I am big on Rush:
- First off, his contract is anything but onerous. At $4 million, that is an absolute bargain for a knock-down shooter, as other off-season pacts for similar players have shown (Kyle Korver at four-years, $24 million and J.J. Redick at four-years, $27 million). Picking him up was an excellent use of cap space. Had he been a free agent, getting him for $4 million would have been a complete steal.
- From things I’ve heard over the past few seasons, Utah has long been fans of his game. My guess is that Jazz brass insisted that he be a part of this transaction for that reason– not just to be roster/salary fodder, but to see if he can fit into the fabric of what Utah is weaving with their young team. I believe they are confident that he will.
- Yes, he is coming off a horrible injury, but by all accounts, he will be ready to go for the season’s start.
- His last full season in 2011-12: a career-best 9.8 ppg (50.1% field goals, 45.2% three-pointers, and 79.3% free-throws, for a True Shooting Percentage of 62.8%), 3.9 rpg, 1.4 apg, and 0.9 bpg in 26.4 mpg. That is solid production from one of your key reserves.
- Perimeter marksmanship is essential, and with the Jazz opting to part ways with Randy Foye (and Mo Williams), Rush’s outside shooting will be crucial to the make-up of the team, especially in an offense that will still focus on Utah’s big men. He has eclipsed the 41% mark each of his past three healthy seasons and sports a 41.3% career mark. And again, he shot 45% his last complete season. That’s 9 makes for every 20 attempts. I’ll take it.
- Speaking of which, it is equally easy for Rush to fit in start or come in off the bench. It naturally depends on how head coach Tyrone Corbin’s rotation shakes out, but supposing Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward, and Trey Burke are tabbed as starters, Rush’s shooting could help balance out that unit’s offense. Alec Burks could then be a featured scorer off the bench, while capitalizing on his ball-handling skills when playing with guys like John Lucas III or the newest Jazzman, Ian Clark. Either way, Hayward, Burks, and Rush appear to be a solid three-man rotation on the wings.
- Rush will get ample opportunities to assume a bigger role than he had with Indiana or Golden State, without interfering with the young guys’ development and growth. There are ample minutes and shots to spread around and Rush can definitely help fill the need for scoring and veteran play.
- At 6’6″ and 210 lbs, I can envision Rush playing small forward in some line-ups. This will be big for the first portion of the season, as Marvin Williams works his way back into the line-up.
- I love the 0.9 bpg from the wing position. He brings athleticism and defensive effort to the table.
- He just turned 28 and pending his return from his injury, he is entering his prime. He is also in a contract year, so will be motivated to perform. And if/when he does, Utah may look to lock him up using a portion of their ample monetary reserves in the 2014 off-season.
- He is very active and, better yet, interactive on Twitter. Make sure to follow him if you aren’t already.
Obviously Biedrins and Jefferson have monstrous contracts, are coming off poor seasons, and on paper, look like dead weight. Their time in Utah most likely will be short-lived.
Brandon Rush, on the other hand, is different in every way. He is a guy who can factor heavily into the now and the future of the team.