Salt City Hoops » Free Agency http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Tue, 29 Jul 2014 21:47:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Free Agency http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com/category/blog/nba/free-agency/ Should Hayward Get a Max If He’s Not The First Option? http://saltcityhoops.com/should-hayward-get-a-max-if-hes-not-the-first-option/ http://saltcityhoops.com/should-hayward-get-a-max-if-hes-not-the-first-option/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 20:10:27 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12188 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also contributes at all-things-basketball site Not Your Father's Water Cooler (nyfwc.com), and has made appearances on local talk radio. With a strong background in statistics, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Well, it’s been an interesting couple days in Jazzland to say the least. Tuesday appeared to be coming to a close as one of the slowest and least newsworthy days thus far in the offseason until Charlotte beat man Rick Bonnell broke news right around midnight Eastern Time that Jazz RFA Gordon Hayward would sign a maximum offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets. The deal was officially inked yesterday, and Utah’s 72-hour window with which to match began ticking down.

To my mild frustration, many of the immediate hot takes against Utah matching the deal, as seems to frequently be the case during the rare instances where the Jazz are squarely in the national spotlight, lacked any sort of basic team context and contained a number of different totally illegitimate arguments.

Perhaps most confusing was the sentiment that this deal is right for Charlotte, but not for Utah. Not only does this view likely once again miss team context here in terms of future plans and payroll trajectory, it’s just plain wrong – the fact that Utah is likely two years away from being a contender while the Hornets appear ready to challenge for a top-four seed in a weaker East next year is in no way whatsoever a justification for such an argument, and is in fact closer to the opposite. The Jazz easily have the space to eat a small overpay plus give extensions to whichever young pieces are deserving, and remain flexible through the life of his deal given projected large increases in the cap – plus, a potential max extension for Dante Exum, should he turn out to be worthy of one, would not need to come until the year after Hayward is off the books.

But much of this has been covered in the time since by more reasonable analysts, with Grantland’s Zach Lowe and BasketballInsiders’ Nate Duncan both echoing most reasonable local sentiments that while the situation surely isn’t ideal, it’s a relatively standard match for the Jazz given every bit of context involved. SCH cap guru Dan Clayton also weighed in yesterday, and while his piece was centered more around explaining some cap FAQ’s after the new developments, it contained several excellent bits of analysis that roughly line up with my own thinking.

One of the major arguments against matching the offer is that Hayward never projects to be a first option on a contender, one of the few bits from the “don’t match” camp that actually does appear to hold up to legitimate analysis given his failings in this role last season. If we assume this to be true going forward, Hayward projects as a second or third option, and the argument goes that over $15 million per year average salary is far too much to pay for a non-star player.

But is it? Given cap numbers announced officially on Wednesday, Hayward’s deal will take up roughly 23 percent of Utah’s cap sheet next season and, given fairly conservative estimates for subsequent years, should incrementally drop closer to 20 percent. I went team by team for each of the last three seasons, marking down any team that paid over 20 percent of its available cap to any player who clearly wasn’t their first option. Keep in mind there were plenty of occasions where the actual first option on these teams made less than 20 percent of the cap, but this is a potential scenario for Utah also if Derrick Favors were to make the leap in the next couple years.

Of 90 individual team seasons, 50, or slightly over half, paid over 20 percent of that year’s salary cap to a second or third option (or in many cases to a guy who wasn’t even that). Of these 50, 33 made the playoffs, or 66 percent. 10 of the 12 conference final appearances made during this time were by teams that fit the bill, with the only exceptions being this year’s Spurs and the 2012 Thunder. There were several cases of multiple non-stars making over 20 percent of the cap on the same team (the Knicks pulled it off all three years and still made the playoffs twice), and several of the teams typically paying huge money to a second or third banana (Miami, OKC, Chicago) have been some of the most successful teams in the league during this period.

Again, this data doesn’t prove anything. It doesn’t account for the specifics of each team, which vary wildly. But it’s pretty darn indicative that managing such a situation, and even thriving in one, is easily doable in today’s league if over half the teams in the league are doing it and two-thirds of them are making the playoffs. This isn’t an assertion that the Jazz are in an optimal situation here; it would have of course been preferable to get Hayward for less. But guess what? This is always the case. Show me a general manager in the NBA who wouldn’t prefer to pay his best players less and save cap room for other assets, and I’ll show you a guy who’s going to be out of a job in a hurry.

Their cap sheet may be the slightest bit tighter than they’d prefer at this point in the process, but this is a no-brainer match for the Jazz. In a new system with a role more suited to his talents, Hayward can absolutely be one of the most versatile combo guards in the league. Even if he “lacks one elite skill” and tops out as a solid second or third option (on a squad that will run a very Spurs-ian team offense that likely won’t emphasize that sort of pecking order), league trends in the last few years have shown that paying this sort of percentage of a team’s available cap to non-superstars is easily manageable for contending and even elite teams.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also contributes at all-things-basketball site Not Your Father's Water Cooler (nyfwc.com), and has made appearances on local talk radio. With a strong background in statistics, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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The “After” Math: Hayward’s Offer and the Jazz Cap Sheet http://saltcityhoops.com/the-after-math-haywards-offer-and-the-jazz-cap-sheet/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-after-math-haywards-offer-and-the-jazz-cap-sheet/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 22:23:47 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12176 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Time to rework some numbers.

A Tuesday BonnellBomb told us that restricted free agent Gordon Hayward is getting paid by somebody, and that we need to update our spreadsheets.

By now, you know the basics. The Charlotte Horcats committed to a $63 million offer sheet with Hayward. Once signed tomorrow, Utah will have until 7/13 to decide whether to sign the checks themselves or let Charlotte do the honors. Multiple outlets are reporting that Bailey’s Moving & Storage will not be needed at the Hayward home, as Utah is expected to match.

But what does this mean to the Jazz’s financial position? Here’s the new math on the dollarific details behind Hayward’s offer sheet and what it could mean to the Jazz, starting with the most obvious.

Are the Jazz going to match the offer?

Yes.

Should the Jazz match the offer?

Yes. (Wow, we’re really cruising here.)

Why?

I’ve written and spoken already about how Hayward is probably underappreciated when you look at his skill set relative to other young wings around the league. Even in what was admittedly a rough year for him, he still put up 16-5-5. With a better cast, a more spread system and a quicker pace (meaning more possessions on both ends), it’s not a stretch to imagine him getting to 18-6-6 pretty quickly, which would put him in pretty elite company. Granted, a max offer to Hayward today is based on the hope of him filling out the top of his projected range as a prospect, but I like the chances. As Zach Lowe opined, “[T]he brains and skills are there, and they’re developing.”

And there are broader reasons to bite the bullet, too. First, it would set the whole rebuilding project back, which I think costs the Jazz more capital — literally and figuratively — than just signing on the dotted line. Plus, there’s something to be said for showing people the Jazz will pay for talent. Think about it: in the past 4 years, the Jazz have let nearly all their key players walk: Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Andrei Kirilenko, Deron Williams, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.

I don’t want to rehash those individual decisions, but how does it look if once again, the first time that one of the Utah’s young core approaches an opportunity to get paid or walk, the guy they’ve made the franchise face is gone? To rebuild, you eventually have to decide to, you know, build on some of the pieces. Continuing to usher talent away would send a bad message to potential free agents — not to mention the rest of Utah’s young core. Want Dante Exum to believe in what he’s building in Utah? Show him that the team is willing to reward good players and move forward.

But you came here for a cap breakdown, so let’s move on…

If the Jazz match, are they done spending?

No. Depending on exactly where the cap falls, the Jazz will have about $9 million left under the cap, with another $4M or so they could free up by waiving non-guaranteed contracts. They could use that to sign players, absorb salary in trades, or make lopsided deals where they package smaller-salaried players for an impact player another team wants to clear from their cap. Or, they could opt to operate as an over-the-cap team, retaining the free agent rights to their own guys, and then using exceptions such as the MLE to fill out the rotation.

I heard Hayward’s cap hold is just $8.6M. Can we use that lower figure to fit in some signings during the 72-hour waiting period and then match the $14.8M offer sheet?

Turns out I was wrong on this, even falsely correcting the hard-working David Locke. For the RFA’s original team, the cap hold amount until the match notice is sent is the greater of the RFA’s cap hold or his QO – in Hayward’s case, that’s his $8.6M cap hold. For the team submitting the offer sheet, the new salary amount counts right away.

So yes, the Jazz have an extra $6.2M of cap space up until they match the offer. My apologies to those I steered wrong before double checking the CBA document.

Does the player option or trade bonus make Utah less likely to match?

I don’t think so. The trade kicker slightly dings the value of Hayward-the-trade-asset, but I think they like Hayward-the-basketball-player enough that it’s not really about that. The player option is discouraging because it means he could be an unrestricted free agent as early as 2017, but I don’t think it changes their math. They’ll either get him for 4 years and $63M or for 3 years and $46M. Either way, I think they want him back.

Did the Jazz mess up by not extending Hayward last fall?

It certainly cost them some money, sure. But I don’t know if they “messed up,” and it’s hard to say without knowing exactly what was on the table in October. You could also make the argument that the Jazz simply wanted more of a sample size on Hayward — particularly as a team leader and core guy — before making the decision. If that’s true, then maybe they’re more comfortable investing $63M based on what they know today, versus investing mid-50s based on what they knew 9 months ago. If that was their logic and they made a conscious decision to pay for some extra evidence, it’s hard to say they made a mistake. But the extra data points definitely came at a price.

Will the contract hurt Utah’s flexibility later?

It could, but it’s important to remember that the cap and tax threshold are both expected to climb sharply in the next few years. Gordon’s 4th year salary ($16M) sounds like a lot in today’s salary construct: about a quarter of the cap. But if the cap has done what it’s supposed to by then, that may only be on fifth of the cap, or the equivalent to a 12M salary in today’s NBA economy. Either way, this shouldn’t be a huge issue as long as Hayward earns this salary by being one the top three players on a good Jazz team during this contract. Look at the salary construct of good teams: you can afford to pay eight-figure salaries to your best 3-4 guys, especially when you still have a lot of rookie-scale salaries on your roster.

But can they still extend or keep Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Trey Burke and Dante Exum?

Two-part answer. First: yes, they can. The Jazz will have Bird Rights to all of those players, as well as the ability to secure matching rights with a qualifying offer. I’m also not sure that any of those guys outside of Exum will command the type of price range Hayward did. Most in the NBA are project Kanter, Burks and Burke as really good rotation players or part-time starters, but the Jazz won’t be in a position where they have to pay all six guys (plus Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood, Jeremy Evans when his contract expires, etc.) eight-figure salaries.

Second: no fan likes to hear this, but the reality is that not every one of these players is going to be a part of Utah’s indefinite future. If the Jazz are contending any time in the next 5 years, it’s going to be because they’re figured out which 3-4 of these guys are truly the core, and then they’ve cashed in assets to surround that core with complementary impact players. I actually keep thinking we’re close to the point where “asset accumulation” turns into spending mode, and somebody gets parlayed into the right kind of impact glue guy. Wouldn’t surprised me if that trade is coming sometime in the next 12 months. Having a dozen good players is nice; to compete, though, you need 2-3 guys who are at least in the All-NBA conversation, as well as a really strong top 6-7.

Is Hayward really a “max” guy?

I’ll concede that this contract has a lot more to do with potential than where he’s at today, but Hayward really is undervalued for the unique skill set he brings to the table. Also, remember that there are many levels of “max,” so him getting $63M isn’t tantamount to saying he’s as good as LeBron James. There are certainly some things Hayward needs to improve upon, and he knows that. His defense, his rebounding and of course the perceived engagement issues from last season come to mind. But again, the tools are there.

What if the Jazz don’t match?

Then they’ll be sitting on about $38.7M in salary, more than $24M under the cap and about $18M below an amount they’re going to be forced to pay anyway. Not sure what they’d do with that $24M given the realistic free agent targets out there. They’d probably get filler guys, or maybe perform some more cap-dump trades for assets. But one thing’s for sure: they’d have a big hole to fill on the basketball floor, too.

Don’t the Jazz have to spend a certain amount anyway? What happens if they don’t?

Every team is guaranteed to spend $56.76M in salaries, one way or another. If they don’t reach that level, the NBA adjusts its players’ salaries upward proportionally. So there’s really nothing wrong with falling short — but the Jazz are going to pay at least that much no matter what happens. Even with a Hayward match, they’re not quite at the floor.

The Jazz's cap sheet, post Hayward offer sheet. Figures are estimates, compiled from a number of online sources.

The Jazz’s cap sheet, post Hayward offer sheet. Figures are estimates, compiled from a number of online sources.

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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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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SCH Mailbag: Your Questions Needed http://saltcityhoops.com/sch-mailbag-your-questions-needed/ http://saltcityhoops.com/sch-mailbag-your-questions-needed/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 00:49:15 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11993 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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If Favors is really on the block, how would that work? Submit your cap questions here. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

If Favors is really on the block, how would that work? Submit your cap questions here. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

It’s time to get down to business.

The next two to three weeks will be among the most interesting of the year for NBA fans, particularly those of rebuilding team. There is already a persistent hum of rumors involving the Jazz, and the volume will only increase leading up to the draft and free agency. It can also get increasingly complex, with a complicated set of rules governing every potential transaction. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

This week we’ll be reaching into the SCH Mailbag to answer your questions about the salary and trade rules that will dictate what the Jazz do over the coming weeks as they build their team and their future. We want to know what Jazz-related questions you have about cap space, draft-day trades, post-draft trades, cap holds, free agency, restricted free agency, and any other CBA-related issues.

Submit your question in the comments below, or Tweet/DM @danclayt0n (that’s a zero). I’ll grab as many as possible and attach answers well before the Draft on Thursday so you know what the options are before Adam Silver takes the podium.

And…go!

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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The Plan Explained: GM Dennis Lindsey on Decision Time http://saltcityhoops.com/theplanexplained/ http://saltcityhoops.com/theplanexplained/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:12:22 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11097 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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GM Dennis Lindsey spoke with SCH and other media about a pivotal offseason. (Getty Images)

GM Dennis Lindsey spoke with SCH and other media about a pivotal offseason. (Getty Images)

When Jazz faithful, talk about “The Plan”, it’s with a certain amount of reverence, as though it’s a sacred document sitting under glass in an undisclosed location right next to the Magna Carta and the Constitution.

To hear Dennis Lindsey talk, The Plan is far more fluid than that. The Jazz GM spoke at length on Thursday with the media corps, including SCH’s own Andy Larsen, providing a whopping 42 minutes of detail on what might happen next.

The quick version: we’ll figure that out and get back to you.

“I don’t think at this stage — what is it, April 17? — we can say we have a concrete direction,” Lindsey said. “(There are) a lot of internal questions we’re getting to right now.”

When the Jazz parted ways with veteran leaders last July, it was easy to envision an oversimplified version of The Plan. Step 1: hand the team to the young guys. Step 2: young guys will probably struggle to consistently deliver wins. Step 3: cash in on the resulting high draft pick.

As Lindsey would point out, that’s one option. “The draft is just one piece of what we want to do,” he told reporters.

“I’m very confident in… the ability to move forward, whether it be internal improvement, or using our salary cap or using our draft picks. I expect us to be better next year.”

The Plan, it turns out, isn’t a single predetermined course. The Plan is a set of options created by the Jazz’s overall asset position, and now comes the difficult part: figuring out what the right moves are in each of those areas to start the ascent back to relevance.

Internal Improvement

The Jazz’s asset arsenal includes several guys who ostensibly are only going to get better. Lindsey hasn’t given up on the idea that the franchise piece we long for might already be on the roster. He talked about the need for one or several of the Jazz’s youngsters to exceed expectations, change their trajectory to become something more than expected, the way Jazz legend John Stockton did when he stepped out from the shadows to co-lead a franchise and rewrite NBA history.

The first player Lindsey mentioned as a candidate for that type of leap to stardom was Derrick Favors.

“Derrick’s a very intelligent player and an instinctive player,” the GM said of the first Jazz youngster to make a long-term commitment to the franchise in the form of a contract extension he signed last fall. “We think there’s two more levels he can hit as he improves his conditioning, his activity level, his intensity level.”

Two more levels is an oddly specific forecast. Lindsey is clearly imagining some specific mental hierarchy wherein he sees Favors as having the potential to scale two strata. I’d be interested to know what Lindsey’s “levels” are, but it seems safe to say that a Favors-plus-two-levels type of player is potentially part of your contending core.

Now the question is, who is going to be there with him. Gordon Hayward has yet to secure his long-term future in Utah, and Lindsey spoke as though locking him up would be a priority. He stopped short of saying the Jazz would match any offer for the restricted free agent to be — saying only that he expected Hayward would get a “significant” contract — but did say he doesn’t expect Hayward to go anywhere. What he does expect, is a more engaged and higher-performing version of the versatile wing.

“I think he needs to have more fun,” Lindsey said of Hayward. “We wanted to clear the path so he could be more prominent with the Utah Jazz, and there’s a lot of responsibility that goes with that. Once he gets time away and reflects on that, he’ll be better in that role next year.”

So that’s two. What about the rest of Utah’s young nucleus?

  • Of Enes Kanter, Lindsey said, “He really fell behind this season” because of lost time due to last spring’s shoulder injury. Lindsey blamed that the period of inactivity for Kanter’s timing and rhythm, but didn’t let the Turkish center off the hook on his defensive issues, which Lindsey called “well documented.”  He thinks Kanter can and will improve there, but acknowledged that it’s a conversation they need to have. As far as whether or not Kanter and Favors will have problems coexisting, the GM said, “Frankly, that’s nonsense.”
  • Lindsey said he was “very pleased” with Alec Burks’ progress. Like everybody else, Lindsey noticed Burks’ tough early stretch, but said he “continued to grind through after a slow start.” They looked to Alec to allow them to play an empty-the-post style of basketball as a change-up option, and Burks became a viable off-the-bounce shot creator who still has room to get better.
  • Trey Burke, Lindsey said, is anxious to be more of a leader for the young squad, so they’re talking to him about how he can develop that leadership voice through discipline. But he’s another player they believe has bright things ahead. “Trey’s ambition, his work ethic, his intelligence are all good characteristics that will all provide a platform for him to move to greater heights.” He specifically mentioned a need to work on finishing better.

That accounts for what fans refer to as the five “core” players, but the implicit reality behind The Plan as a set of options and contingencies should probably lead us to rethink the “core” designation. In all likelihood, not all five of these guys will be integral to hoisting a hypothetical trophy, so at some point you have to make tough decisions based on who can be part of a championship team and who won’t. The outcome of that thought process may lead the Jazz to believe that some of these players have more value as trade assets today than as basketball assets three (or five or ten) years from now.

How the Jazz choose to move forward with those five players — and other young talent like Rudy Gobert, Ian Clark, etc. — is a set of questions we haven’t talked through enough as a community, instead giving the “core five” the benefit of the doubt. But it’s entirely possible that not all five guys have starter-on-a-championship-contender in their future.

Draft

OK, now to the part of The Plan that we’re all familiar with.

Or are we?

As Lindsey spoke about the draft, it became clear that even that area has a pretty rich set of options associated with it.

“Do we take all three of the very good draft picks in a strong draft and go (trade for a) vet and speed up the timeline? You know, those rhetorical questions. Or do we add another young piece to an already young base and slow grow it?”

That might not be how Jazz fans envisioned the Jazz cashing in the probable top five pick that comes Utah’s way after a fairly arduous and painful process, but it just illustrates that everything’s on the table this June. Lindsey even spoke about the team’s history of being aggressive at trading up, but to do that would almost certainly require parting with a player. A history of draft trades indicates that to move up even a couple of spots within the top 5 almost always requires a package of talented players and assuming some bad salary. The Jazz can acquiesce on both fronts.

At any rate, it was not accidental that this was the year the Jazz dipped into the lottery barrel. “This was the right year,” Lindsey said in reference to the draft class.

Free Agency & Cap Room 

Lindsey also mentioned a desire to add balance to the roster in terms of experienced players who can help show the way. He was extremely complementary of Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams and the influence they had on the team. He went so far as to say, “Under the right circumstances, we could see one or both back.”

But he also mentioned the possibility of using free agency and the Jazz’s cap space to add “veteran personnel that have been in situations more.”

It’s unclear what he means by “situations”, but I’m picturing a David West-type influence here. The Pacers became a contender when they drafted right, and then added an intense competitor and great character guy to the mix in West. It sounds as though the Jazz are looking for their own version of West, someone who can play a major role in guiding the young core to prominence.

He’s also not dismissing the chance that something more dramatic happens with that cap space, though, like a marquee signing. “If the right guy wants to say yes to us,” Lindsey added, “we’ll speed this thing up. If it’s slow growth, and add vets in support of the young guys and pay the young guys as they mature and get better, we’re clearly preparing ourselves for that alternative as well.”

What you probably shouldn’t expect to see Utah do with that cap space: another series of cap dump trades. It seems like Lindsey is ready to start the journey up the standings, rather than continue to pile up even more assets with a future shopping spree in mind. “I don’t think that would be the preference to continue to add picks, but if that’s our best alternative… we’ll look at that.”

The Plan

So there you have it, Jazz fans, straight from the GM himself: The Plan isn’t just to show up on May 20 and see what happens. The Plan is actually a complex series of options, evaluations and decisions that are going to require good patience and even better judgment. There will be some tough decisions made, especially as it relates to figuring out who’s going to be part of a true championship core.

“We have a real opportunity to get it right for the Utah Jazz. We will just continually try to do the right thing from a development standpoint, a procurement standpoint [and by being] aggressive in the draft.”

OK, Dennis, we’ll hold you to that.

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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Derrick Favors & Gordon Hayward: Do They Get Extensions, and For How Much? http://saltcityhoops.com/head-to-head-extension/ http://saltcityhoops.com/head-to-head-extension/#comments Thu, 08 Aug 2013 21:30:30 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7321 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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The Jazz have just under three months to complete what would be their most important transactions of this off-season (no offense, Richard Jefferson). The extension deadline for Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors looms in late October, meaning that the most substantive questions between now and then revolve around the value of those two to the future of the organization and the market conditions that will set their asking price.

They’re loaded questions, ones on which not everybody agrees. One salary cap expert with whom I have already had some spirited debates on this topic is Peter Novak. Peter and I went a few rounds on this on Twitter last week, and decided to air it out here for your entertainment.

For a great primer on extension rules before you dive in, check out today’s companion post, also by Peter and me.

 

Dan: OK, Peter, let’s start at the most basic question, which I’m sure will lead us into all the little nooks and crannies where we have divergent views. How much do you think Hayward & Favors should get as extensions and how likely do you think it is that the Jazz lock them up by October 31?

 

Peter: I think we both agree that at this point in time it is difficult to see a scenario where the Jazz offer a full 4 year, $62.3mm maximum extension to either player. When I consider how much either player is worth, I look for recent comparable players/contracts. In Favors’ case I think the Serge Ibaka extension (4 years, $49.3mm) signed last year is rather indicative of what Favors is worth.  Both Favors and Ibaka are raw, defensive-focused PFs with room to grow on offense. For Hayward, I look at DeMar DeRozan’s extension (4 years, $38mm).  While Hayward is a better shooter and more efficient overall, DeRozan has a superior athletic profile which balances out their future NBA prospects. Will either player agree to those type of numbers?

Considering how conservative the Jazz franchise is historically, I tend to think the Jazz won’t offer that type of money now.  Further, I think both players are looking at their anticipated roles this year and could anticipate a work load that will allow them to put up better production than their Ibaka and DeRozan comparisons did.  For this reason the players may similarly be hesitant to sign a deal in that range. So what do you think, are we in the same ball park?  And will the Jazz ink them at those prices before this fall?

Dan: The extension prices you quoted probably aren’t way off, although that’s not where the Jazz will start the conversations. The players’ agents might, but I don’t think the Ibaka-Favors comparison will get Favors’ negotiating team very far. Serge was coming off all-defensive first team and a trip to the NBA Finals, the culmination of a run in which he netted an 18.9 Playoff PER. Even still, he got an extension that averaged a little more than 12M/yr with an extra couple million in incentives. I just don’t think Favors is in Ibaka’s league yet, in overall terms, to say nothing of a much different economic market than when Ibaka extended.

Hayward-Derozan, on the other hand, might be in the ballpark. A 4/38M deal is honestly a better deal on the Jazz end than I thought, so if that’s on the table, they might have to take it. But in either case, I think it points back to the salient question about the risk calculation on the part of the players. On one hand, you could take the money now, knowing it might be lower than you could get after a year of number-padding. On the other, you could wait for the chance of a slightly more lucrative payday but risk getting screwed by: the structure of restricted free agency, a market with loads of marquee guys, injury, or just the fact that any shortcomings are going to be magnified when you’re the #1 or #2 option.

 

Peter: Since we are further apart on Favors, let’s look at 2 additional comps. Joakim Noah and Al Horford. Both signed rookie extensions at 5 years, $60mm. Both of these guys, similar to Ibaka, had established starting roles in year 3, but Favors’ production in his limited minutes isn’t so far off and if you look at per-36 numbers, it is mostly superior. While the Jazz may try to argue that Favors hasn’t met the production levels of any of these guys, his agent can easily point at the team for holding Favors’ minutes down.

In a league where Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez received maximum contracts as RFA’s, I have hard time seeing Favors having to settle for much lower than $12mm/year.  Similarly, Gordon Hayward can look at Nic Batum (4 years, $46mm) and to some extent Eric Gordon (4 years, $58mm) as his potential upside if he plays to Jazz fans’ lofty expectations.  Dan, assume for a minute that Favors and Hayward pass on extensions, assuming they remain relatively healthy but only put up average production, what do you think their salary floors are as restricted free agents next year?

Dan: First off, I again think your comps are aggressive. Those guys were already core guys on mostly good teams by the end of year three. I think any extension that is based on that group is one made on the faith of what Favors could become as he takes on more minutes and consistently plays against starter-caliber competition. If the Jazz want to show that kind of faith, they can do so, but I don’t think they’re obligated to based on a comp list of guys who were already doing that at this point in their careers. The reality is that at this point, Favors is not a sure bet to be as good as any of those dudes.

Onto your floor question, I’m just not sure I grant the premise that there IS a floor, at least not once you remove all the conditions you placed on it (relatively healthy, average production). Bad health or subpar production are real risks for either player, so security is the real carrot at the end of the extension stick. You can’t base their extension values on a bunch of hypotheticals that remove the risks inherent in playing 2013-14 without that long-term guarantee, because the whole reward for players signing an extension is foregoing that risk.

What you probably are trying to get at is their RFA value if we took Hayward/Favors now and took them in a time machine to 2014. The answer there, I’m afraid, is just as volatile because there’s really no precedent for the market conditions we’ll have next summer. In a vacuum, I’d say something like 4/32-38M for Hayward and maybe a bit more for Favors (who is less polished all around but gets a big man premium), but we’re not in a vacuum. 2014 free agency will be different from anything we’ve experienced.

 

Peter: I 100% agree that those are aggressive comparisons for Favors. The Jazz certainly aren’t obligated to pay Favors on those comps, which is ultimately why I think no deal happens this summer.  If I’m Favors I’m comfortable that I can merit a similar contract based on the role I am inheriting in 2013-14.

Favors could easily average 15 and 10 on 43% shooting and still get a big contract offer from a big man needy team.  In both cases either player could argue below average production was a result of being the 1st year thrust into their role and they are young enough to argue they still have upside.

As an RFA, DeAndre Jordan got 4 years, $43mm coming off a season averaging 7 PPG and 8 RPG. Favors already does that in fewer minutes. JaVale McGee got 4 & $44mm after averaging 11 and 7.  Neither of those guys were considered the prospect that Favors is.  I have a hard time seeing Favors getting less than $11mm/year next offseason, even if he only adds 4-5 MPG and puts up similar numbers.  So is there strong enough motivation for Favors to sign for $11mm/year or less now?

I think we agree that $8mm/year is a reasonable RFA floor for Hayward. We saw way too many average wing players sign for something similar this offseason.  Which begs the question, if $8mm/year is the floor, why sign a deal averaging $9.5mm/year now if he has potential to earn $12mm-$15mm year on a 5 year contract if he waits until after the season?

I am curious by what you mean that 2014 free agency will be different from anything we’ve experienced?

 

Dan:  I just think we’ve never seen the confluence of market factors we’ll have next year. Potential free agents include LeBron, Kobe, Melo, Tim, Dwyane, Dirk, Granger and Gay, and joining our guys in the potential RFA class are Paul George, Greg Monroe, Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins. As much as half the league has the opportunity to create a near-max salary cap slot, but at the same time the repeater tax kicks in and revenue sharing will have fully kicked in, changing the way big & small market teams spend.

I don’t have any idea how the market will shake out next year; nobody does. So an agent telling his client to pass on, say, 4/38M guaranteed could wind up looking awfully smart… or the bottom could fall out. That’s why I think measuring guaranteed money now against a hypothetical floor in one of the most unprecedentedly weird markets is dangerous for the players; just as measuring against a hypothetical ceiling is usually bad practice for teams.

Let’s say the agents show up with the script you just provided around per-minute numbers and favorable comps, and the Jazz show up expecting a discount for rolling the dice and giving the players the security now without seeing them as alpha dogs first. How likely is it that the parties can’t bridge the gap at all and wind up waiting until next summer just as a result of a negotiating impasse?

 

Peter: I think there is a very small chance that a Favors deal gets done. As a big man there will almost always be money for him, thus unless the Jazz want to break the bank now (and I don’t think they necessarily should), I’d give it only a 10% chance that he signs.  Hayward is probably closer to 30-40%.  He has more room to get exposed if he isn’t able to play as efficiently in his new #1 role.

 

Dan: I think you’re underestimating the motivation to forego restricted free agency based on how hard it is to get paid as RFA. Tiago Splitter – a pretty good comp for present-day Favors, actually – got 4/36M. Jeff Teague, a promising young point guard, got 4/32M. Nik Pekovic was one of the game’s most efficient centers last year and he’s not even signed yet. And all three of those guys were ESPN top 16 free agents; in next year’s star-studded class, neither Favors nor Hayward figures to be ranked that high.

Let’s not forget the ceiling, either. It’s hard for a 22-year-old kid to turn down, for example, $40 million guaranteed for the possibility of Ibaka money or the dream (because, frankly, it’s a dream) of Hibbert money. In other words, I think there’s a middle ground here and I’d put the odds a bit higher than 10-40% for either guy.

 

*     *     *

Your turn: What do you think? Will deals get done with Favors & Hayward? If so, for how much? What’s the right amount? Chime in in the comments section to join the conversation.

 

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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Primer: NBA Contract Extension Rules http://saltcityhoops.com/primer-nba-contract-extension-rules/ http://saltcityhoops.com/primer-nba-contract-extension-rules/#comments Thu, 08 Aug 2013 21:27:24 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7323 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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As Peter Novak and I were preparing for our nerd smackdown debate on extension values for Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, Peter aptly threw in a primer on extension rules. I decided to share those here as a companion post for anyone who wants to join in the argument while making sure they have all their facts right.

Peter put together the following description of what the fourth-year forwards are eligible for if they agree to an extension by the October 31, 2013 deadline:

Until October 31, either player is eligible to sign a 4 year extension with a first year salary in the approximate amount of 25% of the 2014-15 Salary Cap and annual 7.5% raises.  Depending on what the Salary Cap ends up at next summer (really it depends on Basketball Related Income), a maximum contract extension would be about 4 years and $62.3mm.

There are two new 2011 CBA provisions which potentially could modify that figure.  The first is the “Derrick Rose Rule” which allows two-time All-Star/All-NBA players or an MVP to get an extension with a first year starting salary of up to 30% of the 2014-15 Salary Cap.  However, neither player will meet those conditions to get the bonus jump in salary.

The other new rule is the “Designated Player” provision which allows the Jazz to offer 1, and only 1, player on its roster a 5 year extension.  The Jazz will be hesitant to offer either Hayward or Favors the extra year and should save their Designated Player provision for a more identifiable franchise player in the future.

If the Jazz and Hayward/Favors are able to come to an agreement within those guidelines by October 31, then the player would finish out the fourth year of the contract on the scale figure from their rookie contract and then the new numbers would kick in for the 2014-15 season.

If not – and here’s where the negotiating leverage comes in – then the team can make either player a restricted free agent next summer by extending a qualifying offer at a pre-set amount. Once that offer has been made, the Jazz then have the right to match any contract terms that are agreed upon by the player and another team, giving them the upper leg in re-signing either guy.

Peter brought this up later in our debate when he said:

I should also disclaim that there is a possibility that the Jazz do not want to extend either player now in order for them to maintain maximum salary cap flexibility next offseason.  Since the Jazz can control the restricted free agency process next year they have little incentive to overpay now.

Restricted free agency is extremely pro-team and can work against the player, for a couple of different reasons. First, because many teams’ approach to RFA is to tell their player to go out and set a market value by negotiating with other teams. This is smart, given that the team doesn’t want to bid against itself, but getting serious bidders as an RFA is hard. If you’re a Bird free agent (both Favors and Hayward are), then any team that has an ounce of interest knows your team has the ability to match any offer, so they may not even mess around with you.

That happened to a number of RFAs this summer who were thought to be among the prizes of the free agent class but wound up signing very late because their old team only wanted to talk when the number was set by the market and no new teams wanted to help them out, at least at a dollar amount that the players found attractive.

Of course, the players do have one other chip — a veto threat, if you will. If they are really turned off by the team’s offer or handling of the situation, they can ride out their contract with no extension, accept the one-year qualifying offer and then become an unrestricted free agent after the fifth season. Very few take this route because of the bird-in-the-hand logic; now your career is five years in before you get your first major payday, and if you get hurt or suffer a slump before then, you may never cash in on the millions that may have been available to you in extension negotiations or as a restricted free agent.

So that’s basically what’s behind door number 1, 2 and a distant 3 for Hayward, Favors and the Jazz. Now that you’re primed, go watch Peter and me fight. Pay-per-view subscription not required.

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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Christmas, or Something Like It http://saltcityhoops.com/is-it-christmas/ http://saltcityhoops.com/is-it-christmas/#comments Sat, 06 Jul 2013 23:10:58 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=6844 Author information
Mario Alejandre
Mario Alejandre is a proud alumni of both the University of Utah and Biola University in La Mirada, California. During the day he works as a Case Administrator for the Federal Courts is Salt Lake City. In his spare time, he teaches two classes at his local church and writes for other blogs on matters of faith, and pop culture. His love for music and movies often finds its way into his work. He is the husband to his incomparable wife, Tera. Together, they share of love of the Utah Jazz that they are passing on to their two children. Mario enjoys exploring the intersection of sports with other aspects of life (philosophy, sociology, and identity to name three) and believes they make for important discussions. Don't worry, it's not always as serious as it sounds.
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Did you ever make a list of preferred gifts that you’d make at Christmastime for the gift-giving power brokers? Remember waking up as a kid on Christmas morning wondering how many of those things on your list you would be able to cross off? As a kid, I can remember opening gifts that could only be described by saying, ‘it’s exactly what I wanted.’ While I no longer keep lists for Christmas gifts (I’ve thankfully outgrown that), I know that as a sports fan, I have those types of lists for my favorite teams. Those lists are usually comprised of players I hope come to play in my city for my team, or for a particular player to stay on board, not leaving for what might seem to be greener pastures via free agency. These last few weeks have provided for some of those magical moments for Jazz fans that can only be described as ‘exactly what I wanted,’ and there have been some moments that serve as a reminder that ‘what I want’ may be more painful than originally envisioned.

The Draft: Like so many Jazz fans, the words that I would use to describe this year’s draft was, ‘Surprised, Success, and simply, YES!’ Over the course of the weeks leading up to the draft, the conversation that fans and Jazz insiders had centered on was whether or not the point guard that would be available at 14 or 21 would really be the kind of player that could have a long-term career as a starter in the league. The elephant in the room was that even though everyone (including mock draft guys) knew the Jazz had a glaring weakness at that position, the kind of PG they coveted would be long gone by 14. The Jazz’s next starting point guard would not be coming from the draft. If anything, the Jazz would draft their next solid backup PG, who’d steady the ship for the next year or two while the search the franchise’s next floor general continued.

ralphie-christmas-storyBut just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story was determined to get his Red Rider BB gun, the fan base longed for their next big thing. Then it happened: I got the alert saying that the Jazz swapped their two first-round picks for the University of Michigan star. Is Trey Burke the answer to every deficiency the Jazz had last year? No. Is there something about him that inspires hope that things are heading in the right direction? Yes. What can’t be underestimated is the rate in which he won at every level. From the presence of his parents at his introductory presser (his dad also serves as his agent), to leading a Jr. Jazz camp clinic the day after he was drafted, to indicating he wants to play his entire career in Utah, Trey Burke may be the guy to make Jazz fan’s forget their beloved team once passed on CP3.

In addition, Rudy Gobert adds an interesting piece to the Jazz’s front line. If indeed, league trends in officiating continue and ‘verticality’ continues to favor the defensive player’s efforts on that end of the floor, then this pick actually does have the potential to be the diamond-in-the-rough that most of us envisioned at the point guard position. Getting even better, Rudy Gobert tweeted that he was looking forward to working with The Mailman to improve his game. What’s not to love about a guy with a 7’9″ wingspan with sharp elbows and a decisive outlet pass? What’s more, GM Dennis Lindsey accomplished all of this without compromising any future assets. (More on this in a moment). Of all the things Dennis Lindsey gave Jazz fans this night, the one that proved to be most cherished: optimism.

Free Agency: WIth free agency negotiations hitting full throttle, the fan base’s long history of being jilted by players surfaced once again. Why won’t player A and/or B come to Utah with all of its available cap space? With all of the drama surrounding Dwight Howard, day after day, Jazz fans lived on a diet of speculation and rumors. To no one’s surprise, Big Al signed with another team. As the opening days of free agency came and went, the excitement of draft night began to ebb.

Then the trade broke that had most Jazz fans scratching their heads. What started out as an interest in Andrew Bogut (and hopefully Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson) quickly turned into the duo of Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson. Huh? My initial reaction was that there was no way the Jazz just enabled a Western Conference opponent to better themselves at their expense. Then the details that filled out the trade began to trickle in. The Jazz received two unprotected first round picks and multiple 2nd round picks. They also added an additional player (Brandon Rush) that may fill a substantial team need, but whose health is still to be determined.

This move allows the Jazz to accomplish a few other things:

  • It allows the team meet the minimum salary requirements without overspending for a player whose contract may handcuff them in the years to come.
  • It will maximize the amount of time the young players will get if they can keep themselves on the court. Ty won’t have the game management considerations that he admittedly had to take into consideration last year.
  • This move allowed the Jazz to acquire multiple draft picks, which is still the most viable way for this franchise to continue to acquire talent.
  • Lindsey’s ability to get Golden State to give up what they did is a reminder that a long term vision is needed to be successful. I think in the end, Golden State will regret conceding so much in this trade.
  • Without the presence of a dominant veteran figure, the desire for leadership to emerge from the young core is not only expected, it will be necessary (I’m convinced this will end up being a hybrid of Burke/Hayward next season).
  • Most importantly, the financial flexibility reinforces a commitment to the youth movement in that it gives the Jazz an opportunity to keep guys like Burke, Favors, Kanter and Hayward around for as long as possible. There is no one on the market who is available now that I’d rather have long term than any of the four players I just mentioned.

Conclusion: So far, Dennis Lindsey has indicated that the Jazz wanted to be aggressive on draft day. They were. He indicated there were no skipping steps in the rebuilding process, and the trade with the Golden State Warriors is evidence that this process is well under way. Jazz fans should be excited about the youth movement, even if it means more L’s than W’s in 2013-2014. Lindsey has spoken about ‘financial flexibility’ to anyone who asks him about the teams’ long term success. It’s an asset that, once invested, can take years to show returns. There are no guarantees, but if this means that for the next 10+ years Jazz fans are treated to the finished product that is often imagined with the young guys, that will truly be the gift that every Jazz fan wants.

Author information

Mario Alejandre
Mario Alejandre is a proud alumni of both the University of Utah and Biola University in La Mirada, California. During the day he works as a Case Administrator for the Federal Courts is Salt Lake City. In his spare time, he teaches two classes at his local church and writes for other blogs on matters of faith, and pop culture. His love for music and movies often finds its way into his work. He is the husband to his incomparable wife, Tera. Together, they share of love of the Utah Jazz that they are passing on to their two children. Mario enjoys exploring the intersection of sports with other aspects of life (philosophy, sociology, and identity to name three) and believes they make for important discussions. Don't worry, it's not always as serious as it sounds.
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Jazz & Free Agency: The Sound of Silence http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-free-agency-the-sound-of-silence/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-free-agency-the-sound-of-silence/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2013 17:54:25 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=6892 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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NBA free agency is a few days old, and so far the most exciting rumor to come out of the Intermountain West is that it’s the location of Dwight Howard’s $100 million game of Eeny-meeny-miny-moe. Even that is on the other side of the Rockies from where the Jazz are treating free agency like a classified mission.

In a business that usually leaks more than a sieve, the Jazz front office has somehow managed to run an eerily quiet free agent operation. As far as the public knows as this moment, the list of free agents contacted by Utah include OJ Mayo, Chris Copeland, DeJuan Blair and the team’s own free agents. Since the Jazz sport more potential cap room than all but a couple of teams, it seems hard to believe that a total of three at-large free agents have gotten phone calls from this suddenly deep-pocketed franchise. So what gives?

At this point, I think there are three possible explanations for things being so quiet on the Western front. I personally choose to subscribe to the one that promoted patience and confidence (explanation #3), but let’s get the other, more incendiary theories out of the way first.

Explanation A – The Jazz are simply striking out

We already know that, if one set of rumors is correct, the Jazz missed out on Mayo. The Jazz were reportedly one of the first teams to contact Mayo, and supposedly had a meeting set up with the scoring guard for later in the week. But before Jazz brass could even sit down with the former Grizzly and Maverick, he appears to be finalizing a four-year deal with Milwaukee.

So one explanation is that the Jazz have been working feverishly — but missing. We haven’t heard any other cases, but it’s possible the Jazz had calls in to other free agents who have since committed to their new teams: Kyle Korver, JJ Redick, Tiago Splitter or Gal Mekel, to name a few popular options. However, there were never any solid rumors connecting the Jazz to any of those guys after July 1.

Explanation B – The Jazz are purposely sitting out this round

Basketball Operations head Kevin O’Connor made a comment on the team’s radio station the other day that deals made in the early part of free agency tend to be player-friendly. That made me wonder if the Jazz are purposely keeping their dance cards empty for the first part of the dance.

Of course, the problem with that theory is that the first part of the dance is when the cutest girls are still available. Perhaps part of the reason early free agent deals are so lucrative is that the early free agent deals are made by the best players. I understand not wanting to bid against yourself or drive market price up, but a purely passive approach could leave you with other teams’ leftovers.

The team has taken the same approach to negotiating with their own restricted free agents in the past, telling them to go out and set their market value by talking to other teams. The strategy has probably caused them to overpay a time or two, and on at least one occasion they have lost someone they wanted to keep (Wesley Matthews) by not saying early on, “We want to keep you, and here’s our offer.”

This explanation might be true to some degree — even in the free agent conversations the Jazz have had up to this point, there have been no reported offers at this stage. But I don’t think it’s the main reason things are quiet in Salt Lake City.

Explanation C – The Jazz know what they’re doing — they’re just doing it quietly

On draft night, nobody knew the Jazz were shooting for Trey Burke until after a deal had been swung. In 2011, the team managed to move its superstar without anybody seeing it coming. Even leading up to the trade deadline, the tight-lipped Jazz quietly explored options that never made their way to papers or the Twittersphere.

In other words, the Jazz’s way of working quietly is nothing new. There’s a very good chance that they are as active as other teams and they’re simply doing a better job managing the flow of information.

In fact, I will not be surprised in the coming days when an impending Jazz signing hits Twitter in a way that makes the basketball universe stop and say, “Wow, I didn’t even know they were interested in so-and-so.”

*     *     *

Let’s finish with a quick look at who’s left (as of noon MDT on July 4) to be that guy:

Point Guards:

  • Top 5 Remaining on ESPN Big Board Top 30: Jeff Teague (r), Brandon Jennings (r), Monta Ellis, Jarrett Jack, Jose Calderon
  • Best fits for Jazz?: I’ve been pretty vocal in support of Calderon, but so far there’s not a peep to indicated he and the Jazz have been talking. Some fans are pretty low on Jack, but if Trey Burke is seen as ready to start, Jack could be an interesting change-of-pace backup. Don’t sleep on former Jazz guards Devin Harris or Jamaal Tinsley.

Wings:

  • Top 4 3 Remaining on ESPN Big Board Top 30: Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Andrei Kirilenko, Marco Bellinelli
  • Best fits for Jazz?: The Jazz aren’t in play for Smith or Iggy. As intriguing as the idea is to some, they are almost surely not bringing AK back to Utah either. Bellinelli is something of a specialist, although probably somewhat underrated as a ball handler, too. The names of Copeland, Carlos Delfino and Dorrell Wright have been floated out there, or there are Randy Foye and DeMarre Carroll, the Jazz’s own free agents.

Bigs:

  • Top 5 Remaining on ESPN Big Board Top 30: Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Nikola Pekovic, Paul Millsap, JJ Hickson
  • Best fits for Jazz?: As the big man market gets thinner, it’s getting harder and harder to make a case against Millsap. Hickson, Blair and Antawn Jamison are getting some mentions here, but if it comes down to choosing between those four, don’t the Jazz opt for Millsap unless the money is crazy? There aren’t a lot of sexy names left after that group.

 

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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ESPN Trade Machine – What could be, should be, and won’t be http://saltcityhoops.com/espn-trade-machine-what-could-be-should-be-and-wont-be/ http://saltcityhoops.com/espn-trade-machine-what-could-be-should-be-and-wont-be/#comments Tue, 06 Dec 2011 21:53:21 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=4324 Author information
Nick Smith
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While the final t’s and i’s are respectively crossed and dotted on the new collective bargaining agreement, fans everywhere wait to partake of what has the potential to be the most bizarre free agency period in the history of the NBA. Beginning the free agency period on the same day that training camp opens could make for a very wild ride on the trade market, and without a complete understanding of the new agreement, it’s nothing short of absurd to attempt to predict how the market will behave. Nonetheless, with the help of the rest of the boys at Salt City Hoops, I’ve put together a few Jazz-related moves that I think could be, should be, and won’t be made.

Move that could be made

Let me preface this idea by saying how much I love Paul Millsap. He’s a hard worker, and has done everything the Jazz have asked of him & more. Saying that, he’s ultimately an asset… and one that Utah seems to have in spades right now. There have been multiple reports in the past about a trade that is centered around Millsap & Granger and is a rumor that I believe has some legs. This move would most likely cost the Jazz the first round draft pick Utah acquired from Golden State rather than C.J. Miles, but this was the best picture I could paint on ESPN’s draft machine. Paul Millsap is a very nice player, but continuing to hang on to Millsap is like getting full on deviled eggs just hours before Thanksgiving dinner is served. Derrick Favors is ready to start logging minutes, and if the Jazz are committed to developing him then the time has come to cash in on Millsap, whose stock has never been higher. Danny Granger would be a nice reward for grooming Paul over the years. Granger is a lights out shooter and a perennial scorer in this league. Adding a player that has the ability to score like he can from the perimeter will work magic for Al Jefferson’s and Derrick Favors’ ability to dominate the paint. A starting lineup of Harris, Hayward, Granger, Favors, and Jefferson gets me more excited about any current lineup coach Corbin could build around Millsap. I wish I knew what stopped KOC from pulling the trigger on this one a few months ago, but maybe the addition of another big man in Enes Kanter to add to our stockpile of bigs is enough for him to change his mind in favor of the perimeter player.

All indicators point toward Devin Harris and Al Jefferson also being shopped by Utah, but without any idea of what current market value would be for those two guys, I’ll move away from actual speculation and into a dream land of trades that I feel Utah should make.

Moves that should be made

I know Hollinger’s “Analysis” indicates this as being a losing deal for Utah, but I like what I see here. Jazz would upgrade at point guard to a younger, more dedicated PG in Raymond Felton who could lead this team to maturity and who would hopefully stick around for a while. Devin Harris and Paul Millsap seem to currently be our most valuable trade chips as I think Jefferson’s contract might be too high to qualify, so perhaps we could get another piece out of this, but this would significantly improve our backcourt without hurting us much in the front court. Starting lineup: Felton, Matthews, Hayward, Favors, and Jefferson? Better than what we have now.

Another move I would welcome;

Philly has been looking to move Iguodala for a few seasons now, and with Elton Brand as a likely amnesty target, they could be looking for a new Power Forward. Andre Igoudala would provide athleticism on the wing that the Jazz have wished for, and Jrue Holiday seems to be a nice young PG. Saying all of that, the key piece here would be Thad Young. Thad Young is currently a restricted free agent and I’d imagine Utah would need to include a draft pick of some kind to provide enough incentive to Philadelphia to let this young stud go on a sign & trade. Starting lineup: Holiday, Hayward, Igoudala, Favors, and Jefferson with Thad Young as the Jazz’ 6th man? Again, better than currently constituted.

And one more I’d love to see;

This deal makes perfect sense for all teams involved. Despite recent reports, I’m still convinced Portland is going to use their amnesty clause on Brandon Roy and has needs to add some perimeter scoring. Ben Gordon would do just that. Detroit could very well amnesty the overpaid and under-performing Charlie Villenueva, and would be forced to head back to the drawing board in finding a power forward. Enter Paul Millsap. As for Utah, Ray Felton could potentially save the day again! Felton is a young player who plays hard, is a good teammate by all accounts, and a guy I could really see the rest of the Jazz rally around. In addition to the Felton acquisition, this would allow the Jazz to acquire more assets by moving current PG Devin Harris, a player who seems a bit “too cool for school” and almost indifferent about playing in Utah with our young guys. Starting lineup: Felton, Hayward, Batum/AK, Favors, Jefferson, plus whatever players the Jazz could acquire in a Devin Harris deal, which would most likely be a starting lineup quality player.

Moves that won’t be made

Chris Paul seems adamant about joining his BFFs in New York, but unless New Orleans oddly prefers quantity over quality, New York needs to come up with something more clever than this. There’s no doubt in my mind, however, that New York could and very well may find ways to land the PG. It’s almost like the lockout didn’t even happen. The new deal hasn’t even been ratified yet and new super teams are in the works. It makes me wonder what this whole lockout was all about….Oh yeah, $$$.

This move seems to benefit all teams involved except Utah. With Okur finally back in full health and primed to have a monster season, and Jefferson just getting used to the offensive system, I doubt the Jazz would be ready to deal either one of them for just an all NBA point guard, an all star shooting guard, and a hardly proven superstar power forward. If David Kahn were somehow running the show in Utah, the Jazz may get suckered into such a tragedy, but with KOC at the helm, Jazz nation shall stand united against such ludicrous ideas. <SARCASM>

With the new CBA not expected to be officially ratified by both parties until Dec. 8th, we could be in for a wild ride of the shortest free agency period ever. I’m confident in the Jazz front office to do what’s best for our team. After all, as bad as I felt for Cleveland and Toronto last year, I’m starting to feel worse for New Orleans and Orlando for this coming season. Kudos to Kevin O’Connor for ridding us of the non-stop speculation that would inevitably surround a Utah roster that still included Deron Williams.

What do you think of our trades? Any you’d propose?

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Nick Smith
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