Deadline Q&A: Do the Surging Jazz Deal, Aaron Gordon, Cap Planning & More

February 5th, 2018 | by Dan Clayton

Could Gordon (right) become a Jazzman? (From

We’re now mere hours away from the NBA’s deadline for in-season trades, so the chatter intensifies, especially around a team like the Utah Jazz, who most people figure to be unusually active in this year’s trade market.

For the past several weeks, we’ve been fielding your trade and cap-related questions in this Monday Q&A. Once again, SCH readers and Twitter followers are an inquisitive bunch, with a healthy offering of burning questions. 

Does the Jazz’s recent winning streak make a trade more or less likely? @orrderek

With the Jazz’s recent run of play, does that change Dennis Lindsey’s approach (to evaluating) possible moves? @cstu2

Great minds think alike.

Honestly, Utah’s 8-2 surge probably doesn’t change their deadline approach that much. If you think about it, most of the players I’ve been saying are most likely to move haven’t really been all that instrumental in the club’s turnaround. Joe Johnson has averaged 5.6 points on sub-average efficiency during the positive stretch, Alec Burks is at 9.6 but with three DNP-CDs, and Rodney Hood had a 30 game and a 25, but also missed six of the games in question. Don’t get me wrong, each of those three has had good moments during this run… but they haven’t been the primary catalysts behind it.

Derrick Favors is the obvious exception: the Jazz have outscored opponents by 34 in Favors’ minutes since January 17, during which he has contributed 12.7 points and 8.6 boards per outing. He’s still a prime candidate for trade just because his future with the Jazz is in question, but it could be tough to trade him while things are going this well. This has become the most intriguing question at the trade deadline.

Let’s stay on Favors for a minute…

Will the Jazz gamble on Favors wanting to stay and re-sign after the season and if he re-signed will they trade him or keep him? @stantheman1983

There’s as much question about whether the Jazz want to re-sign him as there is about Favors’ desire. Remember, Favors recently responded to a fan saying that it’s “not true at all” that he has told the franchise he’s ready to move on. If we take that at face value, maybe Favors is opening to staying, and the question becomes: do the Jazz want to re-sign a player to eight figures that only plays 3-4 minutes per half with Rudy Gobert? That said, he’s a consummate pro, the longest-tenured Jazz man, and he seems to have real chemistry with new guys like Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio. Man, this is a hard one.

One important thing to remember with Favors is that, with so few teams able to sign players in his tier using cap space, holding his Bird rights this summer could still be an advantage for Utah. So they don’t necessarily need to buy into the flawed1 “gotta get something now” logic.

Most realistic person to be traded on the Jazz this week? @dotson_gordon

In your opinion, what’s the % likelihood you put for each that Favors and Hood are traded? Personally, I put Favors at a 1% chance and Hood at a 50% chance. @B_Den1

No, I’d still say the chances of a Favors trade are much higher than 1%, for reasons stated above. After the 8-2 run and after the Jazz missed on Nikola Mirotic, it’s certainly easier to imagine a scenario where Favors stays. But flip it around: Utah’s resurgence and Favors’ solid play could also increase the likelihood of an offer that would satisfy the Jazz. My updated ranking on likelihood to not be on the Jazz roster this weekend:

  • Johnson: almost a sure bet to move on this week, whether via trade or buyout.
  • Hood: there’s just too much interest out there for me to think the Jazz can’t find an offer that would satisfy them. I like how Ken Clayton addressed this in our recent podcast: there’s probably a baseline deal out there right now that the Jazz would take for Rodney if nothing else becomes available by 3:00 p.m. EST on Thursday.
  • Burks: this will be harder because of his remaining salary, but I think the Jazz want to find a taker now since it will be harder this summer, given the cap environment.
  • Favors.
  • Everybody else.
  • Gobert & Mitchell. (Hands off!)


If the Jazz trade Burks and Hood, what does the cap look like next Summer? How hard would it be to clear enough space for a big fish? @zarinf

What would the Jazz have to do to create max cap space for a restricted FA such as Jabari Parker or Aaron Gordon @clayson_searle

Perfect opportunity to plug my salary cap calculator that launched last week! You can play with different scenarios and see what it would take to open up a max slot, which is $25 million for younger star free agents — and, to Clayson’s question in particular, you’d probably need to go full max to deter a match on an RFA.

As you’ll see by tinkering with the tool, it’s going to be awfully hard for the Jazz to get to $25M, even in @zarinf’s scenario where they move Burks and Hood. Even if they take ZERO long-term salary back in those deals, they’d enter free agency with only about $10M in space. They could waive some of their non-guaranteed guys, and they could try to agree to terms with Dante Exum at a number that is lower than his cap hold… but $25M is going to be hard to come by, especially if the Jazz want to bring Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko and the other non-guaranteed guys back.

But yeah, people do LOVE asking about Gordon right now…

Any realistic package the Jazz can offer to get Aaron Gordon? I’m sure Magic want a lot, but he fits need and timeline well. And why not get a new Gordon? @KantsImperative

Jazz FO have any interest in Aaron Gordon? He seems like a natural fit at the 4 next to Gobert. Good size, length, athleticism, and when he’s the #2 or #3 option on offense, he’s pretty efficient. @j_d_cummings

What kind of a package would it take to go out and get Aaron Gordon? @arcandrew90

As the Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor explained on Monday, it’s not that the Magic are trying to trade Gordon. His sources lead him to believe that Gordon “likely won’t get traded” and that the fact that his name out there is just a side effect of the new cap realities whereby teams have to proactively gauge what their stars can net on the trade market before committing to $100 million-plus deals. It would still take a LOT to get Gordon; he’s their best trade piece by far, a recent top-four pick and their leading scorer. Utah couldn’t get him just by packaging the guys they’re already planning on moving. At minimum, you’re probably throwing Exum and some draft goodies into the conversation just to keep Orlando from hanging up the phone.

Now look at it from the Jazz angle: he is a non-shooting big, which is a problem when you pair him with Gobert. He started the season hot, but is shoting 35 percent from the field and 20 percent from three in 2018. Twenty! (This after shooting 59% in October, 40% in November and 36% in December — a troubling trendline.) I get the allure — he’s athletic, energetic, a defensive Swiss-army knife, can make plays, etc. But Utah would have some similar spacing problems with a Gordon-Gobert pairing. So knowing that there’s a fundamental flaw, is it worth giving up what Orlando would require in a deal? 

I would rate this idea as extremely unlikely to come to fruition.

Any Orlando guys float your boat? (Evan) Fournier is one but any of their lesser guys you’d take a flyer on? @JosephHorner

There’s not a ton there of great interest. Bismack Biyombo doesn’t make sense for Utah, and I don’t really see how they could pair Nikola Vucevic and Gobert (any easier than they could with Favors). Terrence Ross is probably a better version of Burks, but has the same uncomfy contract. DJ Augustin is overpaid for what he is, the Jazz already tried Shelvin Mack on for size, and Jonathon Simmons has literally been one of the worst rotation players in the league in Net Rating. So you’re probably talking about taking a wild swing with one of their young guys: Mario Hezonja, who has been pretty meh so far in the NBA, or Jonathan Isaac, who can’t even find developmental minutes on THAT team. It’s not a super inspiring roster after Gordon and Fournier.

Are the Jazz players in the trade talk worth a 1st round pick? @JazzNationBr

Beauty (and trade value) is in the eye of the beholder. I think Utah could potentially get a first for Rodney: teams know it will be hard to acquire a player of that caliber in free agency without having their rights, so acquiring him now is worth something to teams who otherwise wouldn’t have much of a chance with Hood in July. Favors could maybe bring back a late pick from the right team, but his status as an expiring contract makes that iffier. 

If you could wave your magic wand, who are 5 non All-Stars who would best address the Jazz’s needs both this year and beyond? (You’re not restricted by salary issues in this exercise but we’re not just adding the Damien Lillards and Anthony Davises of the world.) @getsit

I love this question, but I’m undoubtedly going to forget someone because the question is so open-ended.

Far and away my top choice is Khris Middleton. I actually think he’s every bit as good as many All-Stars, and would instantly be Utah’s second or third best player. He’s the perfect guy to have as your third stud, because he can provide whatever you need in a particular playoff series. I have no idea if he’s available, though. I’m sure Justin Zanik, after a stop in Milwaukee, knows what the front office there thinks of him. The other two-way wing I’d take in a heartbeat is Robert Covington, who is still somehow underrated everywhere outside of Philly.

Otto Porter fits great and reportedly had some interest in talking to Utah last summer. Kelly Olynyk is the middle class man’s Kevin Love (who I can’t include because he’s an All-Star), and is locked in on a reasonable contract, so let’s add him. I’d say Danilo Gallinari if he didn’t look so creaky every time I watched him play. I honestly might prefer Tobias Harris over him if the Clippers were still dealing. I like Thaddeus Young and think a team with the right personnel could get him shooting back closer to last year’s 38% from three. 

I’m guessing that by non All-Stars you also mean I can’t add recent top-three picks who are likely future All-Stars: Jabari Parker, Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram. 

So let’s go: Khris, Otto, RoCo, Olynyk… and I guess Harris.

What is the ideal situation for Favors moving forward? I am thinking putting him at the 4 and pairing him with a stretch 5 like Kristaps Porzingis, Channing Frye or Memo (not bitter at all about that injury). @caseyadamson

It matters less whether he’s a 4 or a 5, honestly. Most teams these days just have a guard, two wings and two bigs. You can call one a center and one a power forward, but what’s more important is the role they play. For example, if Favors joined Porzingis you could technically call Fav the 4, but when the two visited Utah, Gobert would guard Favors. But I think you’re right on in terms of the thinking: these days, a non-shooting big almost has to be next to a shooting big. Fav-Zinger would be a scary frontcourt; Frye probably isn’t good enough anymore, but really you could put Fav with any big guy (4 or 5) who spaces and he’d have a great time rolling down an empty middle.

What’s the upside of cap flexibility that Jazz may be seeking? I tried your awesome cap tool and found it’s really difficult to have 20m cap space (is that good enough for a star FA?). Thank you for listening/answering! @_am_h

Thanks, glad you liked it!

The benefit of having it is that most teams won’t, so you could be the team that gets an asset for helping facilitate a deal, or that gets a second-tier free agent because you have a $10-15M salary slot open and nobody else does. That said, I don’t think the Jazz are that set on flexibility as a main goal. In order to get to even $15M in space, they’d have to relinquish assets that might be worth more — like negotiating rights for their RFAs, the cheap option years for their veterans, and the roughly $9 million midlevel exception.

Jeremy Lamb seems like he would fit really well in Snyder’s system. Any chance Charlotte lets him go? @j_d_cummings

Yeah, it sounds like the Hornets are listening. They’re well under .500. Lamb isn’t perfect, but he’s a good bench wing. He’s solid defensively, an improved but streaky outside shooter. He’s a few million cheaper than Burks, and would likely play a similar role. 

What kind of package would entice Milwaukee to trade Parker? Perfect fit for the Jazz. @tSlay23

I agree, Parker would be a swing-for-the-fences move by Utah. It would also require a swing-for-the-fences package. The Bucks can’t pay everybody, so one of Middleton or Parker could be made available at some point. If they did put one on the market, the Jazz probably have some assets to at least start the conversation. The Bucks have been looking for a starting center, so you could start with a package where the Jazz send a pick, Favors, Hood (the Bucks would probably want Exum) and Johnson’s expiring deal in exchange for one of their bad contracts. The problem is, even if such a package enticed Milwaukee, it likely wouldn’t be their best offer.

Favors, Johnson, Hood and a second round pick for Kevin Love (Yes I know he’s hurt) and Rose’s contract to buyout. I feel like everyone is better with their goals. Cavs this year/ Jazz the next three. what are your thoughts? @westonhalson

Well right off the bat, it’s the “next three” part where I disagree. Love is only guaranteed through next season, after which he has a player option. So you’d really only be getting him for a season. That said, if the Jazz could get love for that package — three players they’re likely moving on from anyway and a second-round pick — they’d do it. 

Do you think the Jazz be willing to take on a bad contract if it meant it could net them a first round pick and a half decent player in a position of need? @EJ_AyalaNBA

Would Utah ever consider taking on an overpaid (but still productive and versatile) player – Nic Batum, for example? CHA apparently wants to clear some cap space. Favors and pieces for Batum and picks?

It depends on what comes attached. Batum alone probably doesn’t make much sense, because then you’re kind of stuck with that roster, and Batum isn’t good enough to get the Jazz over the hump and back to relevance. But if taking an albatross got Utah a guy who could legitimately be the third guy next to Mitchell and Gobert, sure, they’d absorb bad salary. You just can’t absorb bad salary if the deal doesn’t provide you with that other difference-maker or a way to get him later.

Who are some under-the-radar trade targets that Utah may be interested in? @j_d_cummings

Would someone like DeMarre Carroll or Kelly Oubre fit this? @zarinf

In no particular order, here are some random names I ran across while sifting through my salary files for an answer to Justin’s magic wand question.

I still think Caris LeVert is going to be really good someday, and he’s still on his rookie contract — but that’s probably not quite the tier you meant. And two players whose stock is low right now because they play on non-system teams but who I still think can be good in a more structured thing: Jae Crowder and Patrick Patterson. I’d take a chance on Justise Winslow, who’s playing less than ever before but finally starting to make threes. If the Thunder are truly interested in Burks, I’d see if they’d give up Alex Abrines, a dead-eye shooter who has piqued the Jazz’s interest in the past. And of course, keep an eye on bigs who shoot — even less-known ones like Mike Muscala or Nemanja Bjelica. Those two would be bench bigs for sure, but fit the philosophy.

Oubre would be a nice get, but I think Washington still likes him quite a bit. Because of age and salary, Carroll probably wouldn’t be the best fit, but he has had nice runs in Atlanta, Toronto and now Brooklyn since he finally found a place he could stick in Utah six seasons ago.

Can Sefolosha’s medical exemption be used in a trade – like a TPE? @1tobeamup

Yes, with a few catches. First, the Jazz don’t get an extra roster spot to use, so they’d have to waive someone (or make another 2-for-1 trade first). Second, that exception can’t be combined with other exceptions, so it has to be someone whose salary fits into the $2.63M exception (plus $100K if it’s via trade). That’s a pretty short list. Third, the Jazz can’t acquire anybody with that exception — whether by trade or signing — who has a contract past this season. That further limits the list. It’s not very likely to yield anything amazing.

Where do you think the Jazz feel they stand at the moment. Is an 8th seed in the playoffs worth taking a bad contract or two for depth and experience purposes? Would they be better served punting the playoffs this year for a possible FA run in the offseason? @YanksNJazzUhkay

That’s too loaded a question for me to address properly at the very end of a long Q&A — sorry, Cuz! But the short answer is this: I believe my guy Tony Jones’ reporting that the Jazz still believe they’re a playoff team. They won’t make a move that hurts or mortgages the future, but they believe in the value of being a playoff team — in terms of cachet with free agents and in terms of giving guys like Mitchell some meaningful opportunities. That said, if something came up that made them clearly better next year at the expense of this season, I don’t think they’ll pass on it just to ensure an eighth seed. They’re still building toward the peak of a Rudy and Donovan-led Jazz, which is a couple of years off.


Thanks for all the questions! The deadline is on Thursday, so hang on tight!

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, but contributes regularly to Salt City Hoops, FanRag and BBALLBreakdown.
Dan Clayton


  1. Paul Johnson says:

    Do you think the Jazz might be interested in at trade for GAllinari, and do you think he’s available? He would seem to be a perfect fit for the Jazz, if he could stay healthy–but perhaps that’s too risky of a proposition with Gallinari’s injury history.

    • Dan Clayton says:

      Even when he’s healthy, Gallo just kinda looks like a shadow of himself. Just running in a straight line looks like so much work for him right now. He fits Utah’s plan on paper, but I’d have to know that the Jazz docs had scoured his medical records before I’d feel too excited about that deal.

  2. Agustín says:

    I love this Q&A sessions, thanks! Quick question: Do you think Favors + Hood in exchange for Jae Crawford would be a fair deal for both teams? Do you think both teams would pull the trigger on that deal? Thanks!

    (Sorry, no Twitter to do it before you post this)

    • Dan Clayton says:

      I think the market value of Fav + Hood should probably get you more than just Jae… but that said, it’s not a bad deal for Utah if they are in fact ready to move on from those guys anyway. Jae, as I mentioned in the Q&A, is a “buy low” type of guy right now because of his struggled in Cleveland. I think he’s way better in a structured place than he is in a situation like Cleveland.

      • Agustín says:

        I love the deal! And the fact that Jae was cheaper than I expected makes it even better. I’m betting hard on Jae, like you mention, he will benefit from Utah’s system (and team environment).

        So what about Favs now? To deal or not to deal?? (depending on what you get in return is not a valid answer)

  3. Pingback: From Blockbusters to Rotation Pickups, Reviewing a Decade of Deadline Deals in Utah | Salt City Hoops

  4. Spencer says:

    Right at this moment, I believe that over the next 4-6 years Favors has a chance to be a rerun of Millsap after he left, with slightly less passing and shooting, but more interior defense and rebounding. I honestly believe he could be hitting 1+ threes a game from the corners and taking an average of about three. He has always had a soft touch and hits consistently from 18 feet when his legs work. So, I am now on the Favors playing with Gobert bandwagon. Part of the great streak has been exactly that. Favors and Gobert together against both GS, NO and SA were giving those guys fits. Gobert, Favors, Ingles, Mitchell, Rubio should be an absolute terror on defense.

    Rubio figuring out things and making people pay for leaving him wide open is a HUGE develpement that has coincided with this.

    Also, Favors found a little nasty recently that has him playing like I always wished he would. Exploding to the rim for dunks and exploding for out of area blocks. On or two of those plays a game from him means a lot.

    I really like Hood. If he wasn’t such a whimp/injury prone, I would never want to let him go at the levels people are talking. That said, I would trade him straight across for Og Anunoby from Toronto. Toronto should be in win now mode and seeing Hood go for 30 has to make them think he could win them a playoff series. He will have tons of room with the gravity of the guard line. (Don’t tell them he can’t play defense, maybe they won’t notice.)

    I think Og has Kawaii Leonard lite in him, which would be an ideal wing next to Mitchell and the Rubio/Exum/Ingles trio. Right now he just doesn’t have much in the way of offensive arsenal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *