Today we continue looking at all 15 Jazzmen in terms of their likelihood of being traded between now and June 30.
This is not a ranking of trade value; that list would look a lot different, as will be clear as soon as we crack this list at #15. Rather, it’s a guess on how likely the Jazz are to a) want to move a player, b) have takers for said player, and c) get the right type of assets back to get a deal done.
We already looked at 15 to 6 and some possible scenarios in Part I. Here now are the five most likely Jazzmen to be traded in the next eight months.
These three can only be traded between now and late February, but their status as expiring contracts make that more likely, particularly if the Jazz will take on long-term salary in exchange for assets.
5. Andris Biedrins. With one year and $9M remaining, Biedrins represents the Jazz’s best pre-deadline chance of turning next summer’s cap space into more assets. To do so, they’d have to gamble that they’d get more now than they’ll get in July, but the gamble could net them an extra pick or something similar. If Biedrins could still play some basketball, this would be an easier deal to orchestrate, but it’s been about four years now since there was a carrot at the end of that stick.
4. Richard Jefferson. This is probably more intriguing than Biedrins if Jefferson shows the world he can still play basketball after an off year. If Jefferson can prove he could still help a playoff team, he could get some extra attention, but otherwise, he’ll mostly be seen like Biedrins: a way for a team to exchange a longer 8-figure contract for Jefferson’s expiring deal. The Jazz would get rewarded with assets for that type of deal, but would lose some 2014 flexibility.
3. Marvin Williams. If Marv made a little less coin, I’d promote him to the next group (still at #3, though). Marv is the cheapest, youngest and best basketball player in this little subgroup, so he’s the most likely to be traded for a mix of actual basketball reasons and the expiring deal. As an above-average defender with some offensive strengths, a contending team could look here for a short-term rental. Again, they’d likely want to send back some dead salary in return (assuming it’s an over-cap team, they’d have to send something north of 4.93M for a deal to work), but Utah could request compensation in terms of young role-playing talent or draft considerations. Such a deal could help sweeten the haul of the Deron Williams trade, which resulted in the Jazz getting:
Scenarios: Particularly for Biedrins and Jefferson, the likelihood here hinges largely on the Jazz’s willingness to take a longer deal to get assets. Marv might garner some basketball suitors, too, but this group will largely appeal to the NBA because they come off the books at the end of June.
Now we arrive at the two guys I think are most likely to be traded. This is because they’re on value contracts, they have desirable skill sets, and the Jazz would be willing to deal because of the type of assets they could bring back.
2. Alec Burks. Yeah, I get that this will be an unpopular pick, but hear me out. Everything the Jazz have said and done under Dennis Lindsay’s reign suggests they’re trying to land a franchise-changing player in the 2014 Draft. But I don’t think they’ll be bad enough to land a top 5 pick where they’ll find a Jabari Parker or Dante Exum type. (Andrew Wiggins won’t be available via trade; for him, you win the lottery or you miss out). Golden State owes them a pick that Kevin Pelton thinks might land in the lottery, but a combo of a 6-10 pick with a 14-20 pick doesn’t usually get you into the top five.
If you look at the history of recent trades leading up to the draft — I examined 10 years’ worth here prior to the 2013 draft — you’ll see that it’s possible to buy into the top 5 (never the top spot overall), but it always requires more than just multiple picks. Usually it requires picks, a star or starter-caliber player, and often taking on some bad salary, too.
Scenario: First, let me say I think there’s almost no chance that Burks gets moved before the February deadline. But I’m increasingly convinced that the Jazz are pointing to a draft-season swap, and Burks is their best shot at making it happen. Depending on how the season and lottery shake out, perhaps a team picking in the 3-5 range has needs that are different from what the best player available offers, and they’re prefer multiple solid starter types versus going all in on one guy like Parker, Exum or Julius Randle. If the Jazz offer 7 + 14 + Burks, that’s exactly the kind of deal that sometimes can get you up into the top five, especially if they also take back some salary.
I don’t know if it will work, but I’m suddenly very convinced that this is the scenario Jazz management has been stockpiling for, (unless they just get the lottery luck and don’t need to package anything to get a franchise-changer).
1. Brandon Rush. Rush is a low-cost rental (expiring $4M) that would be perfect for a contender needing wing depth and 3-and-D help. It’s almost a given that the Jazz will get calls, and it makes sense for them to listen given that Rush isn’t a surefire part of their future. I would say it’s highly likely that there are some serious discussions around Rush in February, particularly if he returns strong from injury. I’ve questioned why the Jazz didn’t get more in return for taking $24M worth of bad salary from Golden State, but if they flip Rush into something nice, that trade starts to look better.
Scenario: A contending team has a wing player go down (like an ankle tweak to Jared Dudley or Mike Miller) or just lacks good perimeter bench players (OKC, even San Antonio). They call up Utah and can offer anywhere from $2.6 to about 6 million to get the deal to work so there are plenty of options. Rush is a short-term fix, so they won’t give up anything of huge value, but they’ll make it worth Utah’s while, maybe with some young, cheap role players.
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The Jazz are all about collecting and maximizing assets right now. The draft and subsequent free agent frenzy represent Utah’s best chance to quickly leverage those pieces. which is why I think it’s extremely likely they’ll get a head-start by moving somebody ahead of the February deadline or next June’s draft.