More Summer Q&A: Front Office Shuffle, Targeting Defense, and… a Hayward Sequel?

May 14th, 2019 | by Dan Clayton

If the Jazz could take Hayward’s contract back from Boston, would they? (Melissa Majchrzak via celtics.com)

The offseason rolls on, which means the questions keep coming.

Jazz fans (and SCH readers) are curious how the summer will play out for Utah, especially after a season that has many people wanting to accelerate the process of elevating the club to contender status.

Once again, we’re here to help. Here are answers to the latest batch of questions submitted from the Tweeps.

The Jazz need a wing who can shoot, drive, defend, pass. Would they take back Gordon Hayward (with Terry Rozier or a pick) for Kyle Korver and cap space (relinquish all FA rights, maybe Derrick Favors re-signs for the mid-level exception)?

@JJDFB

Do you believe the Jazz would take Hayward back for the right offer? And is it worth? I mean could he be at least 70-80% of the player he was here?

@JazzNationBr

It’s an interesting thought exercise, because if you set out to design the perfect third guy to complement the Rudy Gobert-Donovan Mitchell core, Hayward would check a lot of those boxes. Can create off the dribble, but also doesn’t need the ball in his hands all the time. Big enough to play either forward spot. Can guard multiple positions. At least assuming he gets a tad nearer to his pre-injury self, he’s pretty close to the guy you’d design in a laboratory to complete the equation, right?

That said, this one is tricky from an emotional standpoint. Remember, on the day Hayward made his departure official, the Jazz’s best player sent out a video of himself singing, “These hoes ain’t loyal,” and flashing what appeared to be a middle finger. Gobert would later admit that he was hurt by how Hayward handled the free agent process, shutting out teammates and friends who viewed him “as a brother.”

So before the Jazz even sniffed around such a trade proposal, they’d want to check in with #27 to find out if he’d be amenable to a reunion. If the Stifle Tower said he was on board, then there’s no reason not to consider it, although they might prefer to first see if any of their free agent targets are interested. (It’s all an intellectual exercise anyway, I don’t think this option will be on the table.)

One quick mechanical clarification on the last part of @JJDFB’s question: the Jazz can’t use cap space AND still have their mid-level exception. They would have to relinquish their MLE to get enough cap space to make that deal, so all they’d have in the way of exceptions would be veteran minimum slots and the “Room MLE” of just under $5 million — neither of which would be enough to re-up Favors.

Do you think the Jazz prioritize barely past-prime vets that help Jazz win in the next 2–3 years (e.g. Bojan Bogdanovic, Rudy Gay, Danny Green) or upside players that match Mitchell’s growth (e.g. D’Angelo Russell, Tomas Satoransky, Jeremy Lamb)?

@zarinf

More than anything, they need another shot creator, and it has to be someone who fits in defensively — meaning he can at least hang within a team construct. That’s a hard enough combo to find that I don’t know that they’ll worry too much about timelines. It sounds like their viewpoint is that if they can add another dynamic scorer, the timeline talk grows more or less moot, because it would elevate them to contention right away. That said, most of the guys on your list probably aren’t that type of scorer anyway. Russell is, but he has some of the same efficiency leakage as Mitchell, so pairing them as your backcourt could be problematic to fielding a top-10 offense. Bojan carried the offense for a 48-win team after Victor Oladipo got hurt (21ppg on 61% true shooting after the All-Star break), so he might be capable of being the complementary dynamic scorer.

I could see the Jazz being interested in those other guys you mentioned, but only as role player upgrades. You’re not going to hire Lamb, Sato or Green to carry your offense for stretches. Gay is the only guy you mentioned who I think is legitimately on the “steep decline” portion of his career arc. Outside of him, I think any of those guys make some sense in a certain role — but their main priority is another bucket-getter.

Can the Jazz already opt in on Favors’ contract, so his salary for next season would became guaranteed and use him to match salaries in a draft night trade?

@JazzNationBr

In theory yes, but remember that his contract is not technically an “option” year, but a non-guaranteed year. Which means that in order to count his salary in trades, they’d have to actually amend the salary protection in his contract, and that requires Favors’ agreement1. So in a strange way, Favors kind of has veto power — he can play along if he likes the proposed destination, or he can decline to amend his contract and then the Jazz can’t use his salary in trades.

That said, there’s an easy way around that — Utah could simply agree to a trade before July 7 and wait to officially consummate it until his contract is guaranteed. The only downside of that is that if any 2019 draftees are involved in the deal, it keeps them in limbo and costs them a chance to play in summer league.

Big money FAs like Kemba Walker and Tobias Harris likely mean losing Favors. Is their offensive output enough to compensate for losing the defense of both Rubio and Favors?

@shumekot

It’s a great question, and it’s why I still insist that the Jazz are not going to go after somebody who just doesn’t commit to playing team defense. They are not going to kick the tires on Jabari Parker, for example. And, to the chagrin of certain tweeps who like him, Danilo Gallinari. I have said it a number of times and people either believe me or they don’t: I don’t believe the Jazz have interest there.

Kemba is below average defensively, too, but I trust my press row friends who say that the Jazz have decided he could fit in.

Harris isn’t awful defensively. He seems to understand team schemes and is generally in the right places, though his technique can certainly improve. He isn’t as active as his coaches would probably like, both in terms of moving his feet and in terms of being in more of a D-ready stance. But I think there’s more of a coachable framework there than there is with the likes of Parker and Gallo. Basically, the Jazz want guys who are willing to improve and who have a desire to defend. If guys have that, they’ll work with them. But they’re not interested in offensive talent attached to a player who simply isn’t interested in playing at the other end. It’s why they no longer employ certain former Jazz men.

Draft isn’t that deep this year. Do you think it’s possible for the jazz to trade into the top 10?

@caaanelson

Probably not that high, just because there is a pretty established market price for trading into the top 10, and it involves assets the Jazz aren’t going to trade. I’ve tracked nearly two full decades of draft-season trades to establish a bit of a guide on what it takes to move into certain pick ranges, and a top-10 pick almost always costs you a combination of high-level starters, other lottery picks, and dumping grounds for large unwanted salaries. The Jazz’s pick is No. 23, and picks in that range just historically don’t get you into the top 10 unless it’s attached to a star player, and the Jazz aren’t trading either of their star players.

They will certainly kick the tires on trading up, but getting into the top 10 might be too high an aspiration given their asset cupboard.

Are the Miller’s willing to go over the (luxury tax threshold) to get the players they need?

@SpeechlyBrent

It’s probably moot for this upcoming season. All signs point to the Jazz operating as a cap space team this year because it’s their best chance at a major talent addition, and it’s next to impossible to go under the cap and then wind up over the tax threshold in the same season. So they won’t pay the tax this season, but that’s because it’s tactically the right way to operate, and in fact the only way to add a significant player.

Now, will they pay it going forward? We’ll find out. Indications are that this generation is more willing to go into that territory for the right type of roster, and the way the ownership is structured now in the legacy trust might make the decision-makers less beholden to generating a yearly profit than other teams with more traditional ownership set-ups. So we’ll find out, but probably not until next year at the earliest.

What would it take to get Malcolm Brogdon and are the Jazz willing to do it?

@awesomdestroyer

Brogdon is a really good player. He can defend, play both guard spots, and he is a deadly spot-up shooter who can also make a play in pick-and-roll situations. He’s not quite on the tier of “bona fide bucket-getter,” which is how I keep describing what the Jazz are really after this offseason. So I don’t know that he’s at the top of their wish list. I’m sure they’re interested, but they have a finite amount of cap room, so they might not be able to assemble an offer that would make the Bucks pass on matching, especially if they’re still trying to add another stud along the way.

Thoughts on Terrence Ross? Is he someone the Jazz could chase and does hit fit their needs and culture?

@JaredWalch

Same is true of Ross, another player I really like. He just had his best season by far, and he did it by doing a lot of things the Jazz really value: hitting open shots, being an above-average perimeter defender and more. But again — if the only addition you make is adding Ross, then you’re still putting Mitchell in positions where he doesn’t just have to carry the offense, but rather BE the offense. The Jazz want to give him some creation help, so that Ross/Brogdon tier probably won’t be their top priority.

With the Jazz being fairly conservative and predictable sometimes, which free agent pickups make the most sense? Also does (newly promoted GM) Justin Zanik change the course from what may have transpired or does Lindsey’s say go?

@LilBax

Zanik has already been a very empowered and vocal member of the Jazz brain trust, and someone who puts his extensive contact list to good use for the Jazz with agents and other execs. So from that standpoint, I think the decision-making dynamic will change too drastically as a result of his promotion. I think this was mostly about giving him the title and paycheck to match his contribution level, so that he stays with the team and doesn’t instead go hunting for the GM role elsewhere. Zanik was mentioned as a candidate in nearly every GM search so far this season and offseason, so this was about them giving him every reason to stay in Salt Lake City, but he and Lindsey are already very aligned on the broad decision-making process and on how specific personnel moves need to fit into a cultural framework. 

(Also, this might be nit-picking, but I wouldn’t necessarily describe the Jazz’s front office as being “conversative.” They’ve been aggressive, but you need at least two parties to say yes for anything to happen in the NBA.) 

Are there any solid rumors you know about? Who do the Jazz have on their target list? Such as borderline guys like Jimmy Butler, etc.

@LilBax

Mostly what you’re hearing. Most of what I hear through private scuttlebutt eventually works its way out via the people who are in a position to report that news, so I’ve mostly heard the same news and names you’ve heard. More often, the most valuable stuff I get from my well-placed buds and contacts pertains to players in whom they’re not interested — in other words, where reports of Jazz interest are overblown or completely off base.

I haven’t heard anything specifically around Butler. I’d be surprised if the Jazz got any real traction there.


That wraps another batch of offseason questions. We’ll do more of these as this pivotal summer for the Jazz continues along.

Dan Clayton

Dan Clayton

Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball from up close for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. The born-and-raised Utahn now lives in New York City.
Dan Clayton

18 Comments

  1. Zarin says:

    Nice writeup, thanks Dan. I agree a Tobias/Kemba creator is the priority. If the Jazz miss on them, I wonder if they move on to trade options (e.g. Conley), or if they’ll consider guys like Brogdon or Ross at that point.

    • Dan Clayton says:

      Totally valid question. I think they’ll prioritize trade. They really seem to want one more guy who can score with the ball in his hands.

      • Spencer says:

        I understand that Brogdon is not the bucket getter like those other guys, but he is SO efficient that I see him as a likeness of Curry and Steve Nash before the breakout. Both were already great shooters but they needed a bit more freedom. Neither were super athletic or big. Just incredible IQ. if the Jazz can turn Ingles into a playmaker they can do that with Brogdon. I believe the rest of his game is so much better (defense, moving without the ball, IQ) than the others that I think he can be a bucket getter.

  2. Mike Z says:

    Great post. Do you think the Jazz would have any interest in Terry Rozier? I haven’t seen him play a lot, but he seemed like a bucket-getter during stretches of the Celtics playoff run last year. Would he be too undersized on the perimeter to play next to Donovan?

  3. Paul R. Nelson says:

    Did you watch Gallinari play this year? He was very good defensively. Clippers players and coaches went out of their way to laud his defense without provocation, in particular what a good communicator he was on that end. Anytime someone mentioned Gallo in front of Doc he would rhapsodize at length about how much better defensively Gallo is then Doc had figured before he coached him personally. He’s not a lockdown defender by any means, but he grades out well (and always has by the way) in isolation despite being targeted frequently by other teams unaware of his defensive chops. He’s not any kind of rim protector whatsoever and he’s average as a post defender, but he can switch 1-4 (and even did a good job as a smallball 5 in crunchtime this past year) and defend well on the perimeter. He’s not quick but he moves his feet well, he’s very smart, and he rarely fouls. He also drew 12 charges this year (23rd in the league) and closes out well on shooters with his length. Again, he’s not an absolute lockdown stopper, but talk to any Clips fan who watched the entire season about how good he was defensively, ESPECIALLY as a “team” defender. You mention Harris specifically and he was considerably worse on the defensive end than Gallo this year, and they played right next to each other for 2/3 of the year so it was an easy comparison, not to mention Gallo routinely received whomever the tougher forward matchup was. And to compare him to Parker is flat out insulting. I get that non-Clippers fans wouldn’t know how good Gallo is because they don’t watch him day in and day out and the national media basically ignores his existence (even when they do features on the Clippers as a team), but seeing him play even just twice a year you can tell Jabari is leagues worse on both ends.

  4. Rick S says:

    Thanks for update.

    Have the Jazz got any info on Nigel Williams-Goss on his European play, is he developing into a point guard they would bring in?

    It looks like there are so many variables with so many of the NBA players being free agents, interesting to see what the next couple of months hold and what the Jazz team looks like when the dust settles.

  5. Chris Sylvanstoke says:

    Is there a possibility where the jazz complete a sign and trade for someone like Tobias Harris, inheriting his bird rights, and operating above the cap?

    In doing so, creating the ability to lure in a Pat Beverley-type player with the mle?

    (or sign and a trade/trade outright for a guard, a la the long shot of landing jru, and create flexibility to retain favors?)

    Any implications you might see in doing so?

  6. Don says:

    How badly do the Jazz really need a creator? They led the league both during the season and post-season in wide open looks. It seems like all they really need is players that can make wide-open shots. In the words of Jerry Sloan, they don’t need shooting guards- they need making guards.

    Also, how much of the credit for all of the wide-open looks should be given to Rubio? Will his loss hurt the Jazz offense more than expected?

    • Spencer says:

      Good insight. I agree. The rockets entire team guarded Mitchell. With Brogdon in the place of Rubio twice as many shots go in. Big deal.

      Also. Brogdon is a much better defender.

      • Don says:

        Actually, the point that I was making is how much Rubio’s passing ability set up wide-open looks. But your point (and other responses that echoed your point) is very valid as well. I sure would like to see statistics on both.

        • rvalens2 says:

          Don, here is what you requested.

          2018-19 Season Stats – Per Game Averages

          Ricky Rubio vs Malcolm Brogdon

          27.9 – – 28.6 – – minutes played
          45.4% – – 54.5% – – 2 point shots
          31.1% – – 42.6% – – 3-point shots
          85.5% – – 92.8% – – free throws
          .5 – – 1 – – offensive rebounds
          3.1 – – 3.5 – – defensive rebounds
          6.1 – – 3.2 – – assists
          1.3 – – .7 – – steals
          2.6 – – 1.4 – – turnovers
          2.6 – – 1.6 – – personal fouls
          12.7 – – 15.6 – – points

          Malcolm Brogdon is statistically a lot more efficient than Rubio in three critical categories: 2-point shots, 3-point shots, and free throws. Ricky does, however, hold the edge in assists.

          Should the Jazz fail to bring in a star player, Brogdon would be a great consolation prize and might just surprise us all by becoming an even better player on a team that needs his shooting efficiency.

          *Stats courtesy Basketball-Reference.

          • IDJazzman says:

            I’m thinking that Brogdon could probably be signed for the same amount that Rubio was making. That still leaves money available to do other trades and signings.

          • Don says:

            The problem with Brogdan, as I understand it, is that he does not break down defenses and create open shots for others. He is catch and shoot guy. Trading Ricky for him will greatly improve shooting from the PG spot, but will it eliminate much of the wide-open looks from the other positions?

            When Donovan had to play PG the Jazz killed bad teams and really struggled against good teams. With Ricky leading, they played much better against good teams. Brogdan is not as good of a penetrate/dish man as Donovan is, so without Ricky the offense may have better shooters but a lot worse shots. Unless, of course, either Brogdan or Donovan can be taught to be a highly-effective setup man.

    • Zarin says:

      I wonder how many of those wide open looks were because teams allowed Rubio, Favors, and Crowder to shoot.

      • Spencer says:

        Exactly. Guard Mitchel and the lob with five guys and let the other guys shoot. I would have done the same thing. If you have Brogdon you go from a defender hanging out in the paint to a defender with one foot on the three-point line or you have a 42% three-point shooter open all game. The Desperately need an efficient scorer at the other guard position which is sort of like saying a bucket getter, but the truth is, Donovan is best breaking down the defense. Brogdon is world class at catch and shoot or catch and drive. The perfect kick-out guy.

        • rvalens2 says:

          100% agree. The team has ball distributors. What they need is someone who is a deadly shooter.

          A rock-solid 40%+ 3-point shooter will completely change the dynamics of the team. That’s exactly what happened in the 90s when Jeff Hornacek joined the Jazz. And guess what? They made it to the NBA Finals twice. Jeff hit 40.3% of his 3-point shots during his career. The team needs its Hornacek in order to win more games.

          Jazz fans complain that Brogdon isn’t a ball distributor and that he can’t break down defenses. But truth be told, that hasn’t been his job at Milwaukee. He’s no slow-poke and can drive by most bigs and even some guards. Is he as good as Mitchell? No. But having watched him throughout the playoffs he has decent foot speed.

  7. Rick S says:

    Dan,

    With the draft coming up. What do you see the Jazz Doing?

    Cam Johnson looks like the perfect fit for the Jazz. 6’9″ play SG/SF

    thoughts?

  8. Rick S says:

    I know many are not high on trading Exum, but I would love to see a trade for Matthew Dellavedova for our point guard needs. He’s a pit-bull that shoots career 38+% from three.

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