Last updated 2/19/14 at 2:18 p.m. EDT.
February 20 will be an interesting day, either because of breaking Jazz news or because of the lack of it.
Either way, we’ll have a better sense in less than a week what the Jazz’s direction and plan looks like. Are they really going all in on the 2014 draft? Is the team winning too much for Dennis Lindsey’s liking? Are they planning to stockpile more assets? Are they preserving cap space? How untouchable is Gordon Hayward? How untouchable are any of the Jazz’s core?
I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know that every time I read a trade rumor, my mental reflex is to figure out a way the Jazz could improve their 2014-15 roster by getting involved.
Let’s take a look at the latest we’re hearing from the Association’s 29 other teams, and where the Jazz might or might not fit into those conversations. For some teams we’ll only have a quick sentence or two, but there are some places the Jazz could get involved.
Check back over the next week - I’ll be updating this with relevant tidbits as the deadline draws nearer. Also make sure you check out the East teams, too.
Dallas - Basketball Insiders report that the Mavs are mostly fine with their roster and will make only minor deals, if any. Still, as a fringe playoff team with an aging (and otherwise fragile) roster, it wouldn’t take much for them to need some insurance. That’s probably the most likely way they become buyers. If they do, they’ve got some extra 2nd rounders, including one from Boston that should be pretty valuable.
Denver - The only rumors from the other side of the Rockies are ones involving the Nugs selling. It’s starting to sound like Andre Miller might be a central figure this deadline since a lot of the teams considered buyers have the ex-Ute on their radar. The fact that we’re even mentioning Kenneth Faried underscores that the Nugs are selling and not buying, plus it’s wildly interesting how quickly they’ve decided to reset on what was supposed to be a more competitive roster.
Golden State - The Warriors, logically, would love to upgrade their bench, especially with big bodies, writes Sam Amick. (Bleacher Report also says they might try to reacquire Jarrett Jack, but that seems like a long shot.) They don’t have a lot of assets, but they can absorb salary with the large trade exceptions they got last summer in the Utah deal. They seem to be coming to the conclusion that most players who can help them aren’t going to be available for free, and the only true untouchables are Steph Curry and Andrew Bogut. Honestly, I think they’ll come up empty unless they’ll include Harrison Barnes… and in any case, probably nothing here for the Jazz. But they’re buying, at least in theory.
Houston - Everybody knows Houston is OK undoing the financial commitments to Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, and Basketball Insiders say that there are standing offers for the Turk that Houston could evoke at any moment. But in case that makes them sound purely like sellers, there are some names they like, too. PG and PF are their apparent targets. If the Jazz wanted to oblige, they could maybe get a Donatas or Terrence Jones type player in return. If they wanted something better – say, one or more of the whopping six incoming 2nd rounders Houston is owed – they’re probably going to have to help with Lin or Asik.
LA Clippers - The Clips finally have all their principals healthy at the same time, so with the second best point diff in the conference, they may choose to see what they’ve got. But most speculation around what they *would* do if they decided to dabble in the market is find some upgrades to their bench unit. They might not be buyers, but they’re definitely not sellers, so they’re someone the Jazz should at least check in with a couple times.
LA Lakers - I can’t think of a reason why anybody on this roster would be untouchable. OK, probably Bean, but he’s untradeable anyway given that new extension. Everything starts with Pau Gasol here, which is a short way of saying everything is about how to save money, not winning now. (Mitch Kupchak said as much.)
Memphis - This is mostly a gut feeling, but I see the Grizz as a team who might be looking for an upgrade - and a recent Yahoo! rumor bears me out on that. They’re big on culture/chemistry there, but given that they’re on the edge of making the playoffs and have so many guys battling health issues, a nice addition or two for depth’s sake would really help them. There are 2013 rumors to suggest that the Grizz at least considered Marvin Williams at some point. Maybe others of the Jazz’s expirings would be interesting, too. USA Today says they’re after wings (Sam Amick reiterates this), and the Jazz have a few of those who should be available. They’re asset situation isn’t great (next 1st they can trade is 2017), but they might be shopping.
Minnesota - If Minny were still realistically in the playoff hunt, they might be more earnest buyers. In their current situation, though, they reportedly are still willing to deal some of their minor pieces, like the inexpensive JJ Barea, Dante Cunningham (expiring) or Alexey Shved. In fact, a late Monday rumor from Marc Stein suggests that if they can offload Barea, they may be interested in exiled Nugget (and ex-Ute) Andre Miller. If you want a Jazz angle, a Rush-Barea dump clears the way for Minny, saves them money next year, and might get the Jazz one of Minnesota’s extra second rounders. (They have three second rounders this year. Their 1st is owed.)
New Orleans - The Pellies are willing to change a lot — even their mascot’s beak. Sounds like everybody up to Eric Gordon is available for the right offer. The Disabled Player Exception they appear to be getting for Ryan Anderson makes things interesting, too. First, because now they can acquire a player for up to $4.25M without sending money out, and second because it probably alters the calculus for Anderson himself. They suddenly are starting to sound like buyers, whereas a couple days ago I would have had them in the stand-pat category.
OKC - You wouldn’t think they need a whole lot, but the Rudy Fernandez rumor suggests they might want some bench upgrades and shooting. Not sure the Jazz have what they’re after, but it could be worth a phone call, especially if they’d part with a Dallas pick that could be in the early 20s or the very valuable #31-35 they have coming from Philly.
Phoenix - Everybody and their dog is saying that Phoenix is the team to watch this deadline, with good reason. They have very real needs and very real assets — one of few definite buyers in the market. They want to add a piece without compromising their core, so this is a team that might actually be willing to cash in an asset for an expiring.
Portland - A week or two ago, conventional wisdom was that PDX would stand pat. But the Joel Freeland injury gives them a frontcourt depth issue they might want to address going into the playoffs. Problem is, they don’t have a 1st this year, they can’t trade next year’s, and the next 2nd they own is in 20181. So you have to wonder: would the Jazz be able to use a way-future pick from a good team in an asset package to get what they want this summer? Maybe not, but call ‘em anyway.
Sacramento - I would tentatively take Sacto off the buyers list now that they’ve dealt Marcus Thornton to Brooklyn. First, because this smells like a tank move to me. Jason Terry is on a fast decline (36% FG and 50% TS) and Reggie Evans has barely been playing (40 minutes total in February, DNP in the last three), so I have a hard time buying that the Kings did this deal to get better. Second, I also don’t know that they have the assets to do much more. They have eight (!!!) outstanding draft debts (a couple incoming 2nds in ’16 and ’18), so not much to work with.
San Antonio – Ken Berger suggested last month that the Spurs were working the phones pretty hard. A recent RealGM rumor might explain why: if this is really it for Tim Duncan, there’s going to be a lot of pressure to make this last run count. Take this rumor with a grain of salt, but if it’s true at all, this moves the Spurs firmly into the buyer column, especially as it relates to expiring guys (so they can still start a post-Tim rebuild). Wow. Can’t believe I just types those words.
Again, stay tuned for more as rumors develop. We’ll keep updating with any Jazz angles on rumors that pop up over All-Star Weekend and beyond.