Here are my offseason grades for the Jazz:
1. Ty Corbin / Quin Snyder
Whether you want to call it a firing, or that the Jazz chose not to renew Tyrone Corbin’s contract, the outcome was the same: Corbin was no longer going to be coaching the team going forward. For many, it was a change that happened a year too late, after three candidates many Jazz fans had hoped for were snatched up by other teams—Jeff Hornacek, Mike Budenholzer, and Brad Stevens—and had enough success with their respective teams to feel like a bit of a kick in the gut.
When the Jazz’s head coaching search began in earnest, there were some interesting prospects out there: Mike Longabardi (le sigh), Quin Snyder, Adrian Griffin, and others. But as we’ve learned more about Quin Snyder and as we’ve heard more from him, there’s a lot to look forward to: a team that will utilize the pick-and-roll, that will “play with the pass,” that will have an increased focus on defense 1, creativity on both offense and defense 2Snyder came from the Mike Budenholzer/Gregg Popovich tree, which is innovative on both ends of the floor), and an articulateness that has proved incredibly refreshing with both the media and fans.
Obviously, only time will tell whether or not Quin Snyder will be a great coach. But as of right now, all signs point to this being a really good hire.
Grade: B+ (with potential to be an A+)
2. Draft: Dante Exum / Rodney Hood
Once Jazz fans got over the hope of an Andrew Wiggins/Jabari Parker/Joel Embiid (pre-injury news) pick after the draft lotto set us back a spot and with the #5 pick, expectations were perhaps a bit more realistic of what kind of a player we could get with the draft. We’d been hearing about the 2014 draft for years and knew we needed a superstar to compete for a championship. So to get the fifth pick in what many deemed a four-superstar-deep draft was disheartening, to say the least. However, when Orlando reached and took Aaron Gordon #4, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Exum was #2 on my draft board (Wiggins was #1) and I thought there was no way he’d end up at #5. Granted, seeing him in summer league and international play has probably tempered expectations somewhat. And they should be tempered: he’s 19. But we’ve also seen flashes of an incredible passer and a very fast offensive player.
Rodney Hood was another one many fans didn’t expect to see at #23. I remember Locke used to say that, sometimes, he thought Hood was the best player on a very good Duke team (one which included the ever-popular Jabari Parker). After seeing his smooth shooting stroke in summer league, it seems like fans are even more excited to see what Hood can do moving forward; yes, he played inconsistently—every other game seemed to be a breakout game for him—but that was true of pretty much all our players last year, so he may fit right in.
The one black mark on draft day—and it’s potentially a small mark—was the trade of Jarnell Stokes to the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s one a lot of fans were excited for with the pick and thought he’d fit in well with the team. Unfortunately, he was traded immediately after the pick for what essentially was nothing (a future second-round pick from the Grizzlies). I’m trying to convince myself that was Jody Genessy said is true: If that’s the worst draft mistake Dennis Lindsey makes, he’s doing pretty well.
Like the Quin Snyder coaching grade, this one’s going to take time for us to really know how good of a draft it was for the Jazz. But considering the Jazz’s need for a superstar, Exum was the best one on the board to fulfill that role. He’s got the tools and the skills; hopefully he’ll get there sooner rather than later.
Grade: A (only time will tell on this one, but Exum and Hood were the best picks available at those spots)
3. Gordon Hayward’s Contract
We’d been hearing for some time from Dennis Lindsey that they planned on Gordon Hayward remaining with the Jazz for a very long time. We’d heard all kinds of rumors that the Jazz would match any offer Hayward received. What I think really surprised many Jazz fans—or maybe I’m just projecting?—is that a player who was good at a lot of things, but not great at any one thing, would get a max contract. But that’s the reality of the league we’re in right now and the amount of money being thrown around at second-tier players. I think matching the contract was the right move for the Jazz: letting him walk would’ve cost the Jazz more than keeping him, in my opinion.
Grade: B (because you’re still having to pay a non-max guy max money)
4. Free Agency
So, anyone heard much of these guys the Jazz are signing? Sure, we’d heard of Trevor Booker, but I hadn’t heard much. But Dee Bost? Kevin Murphy signed for training camp. Jack Cooley? And there’s been another that’s been rumored for weeks (or is it just agent-driven?). Whatever the case, none of these signings—or rumored signings—are going to move the needle at all. The only reason there’s optimism here is that the contracts Dennis Lindsey is signing these guys to are flexible enough (only one guaranteed year, for example) to offer to a team looking for cap relief in a trade, say, the Clippers, who are almost $3 million over the luxury tax line.
Grade: C (flexibility is nice, but is only valuable if you use it . . .)
Overall Grade: B