Don’t Get Your Hopes Up For A Utah Jazz Draft Day Trade

May 26th, 2015 | by Clark Schmutz
(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

There has been and will continue to be a lot of speculation and talk about what the Jazz will do with the 12th pick in the upcoming NBA draft.  It’s fun to imagine which players will be available at 12 or which players would fit best with this young and upcoming Jazz team.  But it’s also fun to imagine which players the Jazz could trade the 12th pick for, what it would take to trade up into the top 5 or how many future picks the Jazz could garner by trading out.  That’s the fun of being a couch GM, which is as fun, if not more fun, than watching the games at times.

The Jazz are going to look into trading their pick, trading up in the draft, and they will make a list of which players in this draft they want and in what order.  They may even consider drafting a pregnant woman.  To use a cliche, they will exhaust all options.  But ultimately, I believe the Jazz will draft a player at 12 in the upcoming draft.  It seems like the most boring option, but here is why the Jazz will take the path of least resistance.

1. Trades Are Hard to Execute

It’s the most obvious reason, but warrants acknowledgement.  Trades are less likely to happen than to happen.  Salary matching, value matching, and good human interaction get in the way.  Teams incorrectly value their own players and picks.  Emotions are high at times in negotiations.  The Jazz have to find a dance partner, which, as high school taught me, is very difficult.  If the Jazz are trying to trade the 12th pick for a good player with a reasonable to semi-reasonable contract, then they need to find a team that is in the right developmental stage.  That alone probably eliminates 80% of the teams in the league.  The stars have to align for trades to benefit both teams on paper and that just doesn’t happen often.

2. The 12th Pick has Difficult (Little) Trade Value

For every Kawhi Leonard, Nick Collison, Richard Jefferson, or Giannis Antetokounmpo, there are a dozen guys like Earl Clark, Austin Daye, Jeremy Lamb, Anthony Randolph, or Julian Wright.  It’s a decent place in the draft to find a contributor, but offers few stars, if any. And in the last 15 years, trades involving picks 11-15, if not attached to a larger trade for a star player, have yielded only average players.  Outside of the George Hill for the 15th pick that became Kawhi Leonard trade, picks in the 12-15 range usually yield players like Joel Przybilla or Ike Diogu.  And it bears mentioning that Dennis Lindsey was on the winning side of the mentioned Kawhi Leonard deal, but that fact may make his ability to repeat the performance less likely this year, not more.  In short, if the Jazz trade the 12th pick for a player, that player is historically not going to be a difference maker.  Why would teams give up a difference maker for a very average first round pick?

3. Drafting a Player at 12 is a Very Cheap Investment

Take almost any player that you can imagine trading the 12th pick for and look at their contract.  It probably costs the Jazz at least $15 million for the next two seasons and then puts that player in free agency when they can command 40% as much, due to the increased salary cap.  Take Jrue Holiday as a hypothetical trade target.  Holiday would be a good player for the Jazz, but would cost the Jazz $23 million the next two years and would hit the open market after the salary cap takes a HUGE jump, even if the Jazz desired to re-sign him.  If the Jazz draft a player at 12, that player is locked into a rookie scale contract that will pay that player about $10 million over the next 4 years, and will not go up with the salary cap increase.  You can’t beat that value if that player becomes a rotational player and contributor.

4. The Jazz Will Have a Hard Time Trading Up

Since the Jazz find themselves at a position to compete for the playoffs now, it will be hard for them to part with a meaningful player and their pick in order to move up.  Packaging Favors, Hayward, or Gobert would set the team back several years. Exum could be in play, I suppose, but I would put the chances of that happening at about 0.5%. And the Jazz don’t have extra first round picks whose value is known, like they did when they traded up to draft Trey Burke.  I suppose the Jazz could take a bad contract back in order to move up a spot or two, but it’s certainly a long shot.

5.  Front Office Types are also Ultra-Competitive

Obviously if a “can’t miss” free agent or trade acquisition became available to the Jazz, they would jump on the chance.  But trading a pick for a more well known asset that may speed up the competitive side, while helpful, also feels a bit like cheating the process.  I’m not saying it’s wrong, but it’s sort of the easy decision to trade for a more well known commodity.  Front office types, in general, would rather find and develop the next Khris Middleton or Danny Green, rather than pay out the nose for them.  Judging from his interviews, Dennis Lindsey believes in his coaching staff and the front office’s abilities to find and develop talent.  I think that belief will win out the day on June 25th.

Clark Schmutz

Clark Schmutz is a Jazz fan living in North Carolina who has been blogging about the Jazz for 8 years. Just like with religion, politics and good deals on the internet, Clark likes to talk NBA basketball to find more truth and learning. Find him on twitter @clarkpojo.


  1. LKA says:

    Clark would you trade Burke and #12 to Boston for # 16 – # 28??

    • Clark Schmutz says:

      Well I hate to sidestep your question, but it depends. I tend to think that this draft isn’t deep enough to warrant that trade. I think the players available at #16 are generally a tier below the guys who will be there at 12. And trading back 4 spots is super risky because your desired guys, even if available at 12, might get picked 12-15 obviously. So I’d have to like 5 guys available at 12 similarly to justify that trade.

      Also, I don’t have a good enough feel to speak with great conviction, but I don’t think there are a handful of great guys available at 28 that I’d be excited about. Looking at the list, I don’t see multiple guys I think will stick in this league like I thought about Clint Capela last year. I get your question. It makes financial sense to have two guys from this class on rookie contracts locked in, but by the same token, if I don’t love a guy in the late 1st round, I am forced to pay him a rookie scale contract. Take Grant Jerrett for instance. Probably not an NBA talent, but the Jazz have to pay him more than the rookie minimum.

  2. Michael England says:

    Great article, I also believe that the Jazz will stay for all of the reasons that you mentioned. It just doesn’t make sense for them to pay a lot for a player as well as move up and risk getting younger and more inexperienced.

  3. Dan says:

    “Trades are less likely to happen than to happen.”

    Please explain what this sentence is actually trying to say, because things sometimes more likely to happen than to happen too. haha

  4. UtahsMrSports says:

    Just looking at the last few drafts…….

    2012- we came in with a middle of the second round pick, we kept it and we drafted kevin murphy. No moves were made, but we didn’t have a lot to play with.

    2013- We started the night with 14, 21, and 46. We ended the night with 9, 27, and 47.

    2014- Traded a second rounder for a future second rounder, kept both first round picks.

    This year, we have our own picks, plus the cavs second rounder. I would be shocked if we used all three. I think if we do, at least one of those second rounders will be a player to stash overseas (Im not a big fan of this, but I suppose if its the best you can do, its what you do.)

    I do think we will draft at 12. I dont see a combination of a pressing need plus a player worth paying a premium for. I think trading down might not be a bad call, if we can get a current plus future assets.

    The draft is so fun…….just look at 2013. We got, IMO, the best player in the draft and we got him at the 27th pick.

  5. Aaron Orgill says:

    Of course we’re going to get our hopes up. Plus, now we’ve got a wheeler dealer as GM, who doesn’t mind actually sharing some information, rather than the boring old men in the Jazz front office while I was growing up in the Stockton-Malone glory years.

  6. Curtis says:

    Trading up in the first round of the draft typically takes not only draft picks but current players of value. I don’t believe there is anyone the Jazz would value enough to part with any of their current assets. However, second round picks seem to be traded more frequently/easily. It seems like the Jazz have a history of trading their second round pick over the last few years. At the end of the year, with all the draft picks and D-league players, the Jazz played 7 rookies in one game. Most of those contracts are still on the books for next year, which certainly leads for more flexibility in trades. My point, however, is that I don’t believe the Jazz are looking to bring 3 additional rookies on to the roster next year, and even though second rounders are non guaranteed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jazz try to package those and move up or out of the second round entirely. So, while I am not expecting a flashy, move up in the first round trade, I do think a trade involving our second rounders is more feasible.

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