Offseason Q&A Continued: Specific Targets & More

May 16th, 2018 | by Dan Clayton

Harris a potential Favors replacement in 2019? (

We’re picking up where we left off with a massive bunch of reader questions.

Our first offseason Q&A was bursting at the seam with questions, so we split it into two. Earlier we answered questions about the Jazz’s situation and some X-and-O matters. Now we continue on through by looking at specific assets and targets. 


Assets & Targets

I’m of the opinion we need to acquire another top 50 player to become a true title contender. What’s the most likely avenue to acquire a player of that caliber? Trade, FA, or the draft?


It’s a good question. History says the draft, but given the range the Jazz will draft in, it would take a pretty impressive “hit” plus some development time. Given their free agency track record and what they have to work with in the trade market, it seems more likely that they’d trade for someone who could become a top-50 guy rather than someone who’s already there. So in any case, I think some more patience will be required. But the good news is that the Jazz are going to be pretty dang good while they figure those things out.

As @Ben_Dowsett was mentioning in a conversation earlier, Jazz could look to use the Team Option contracts as trade chips to take on salary of another player. What dates would this have to happen by? What players do you see making the most sense?


I think an impact trade is a more legitimate possibility than an impact signing. You could trade, say, Alec Burks and two of the Sefolosha-Udoh-Jerebko trio (after guaranteeing next season) and be able to bring back well over $20 million in salary. But you’re not going to get an impact player for three dudes who were in and out of the Jazz’s rotation. So you’d be talking about someone who’s a little overpaid and/or on a team that’s not good and needs to reset its books. Evan Turner? Nikola Vucevic? Gorgui Dieng? Maybe attach a pick and you can move into a conversation for someone slightly better. Are the Jazz afraid of Danilo Gallinari’s recent health woes? Interested in a Harrison Barnes reclamation project? I don’t know, but if the Jazz add an eight-figure salary this summer, my bet is it happens via trade.

Supposing the Jazz can trade Burks, can they sign a FA while under the cap and and then re-sign Favors even being over the cap because Bird rights?


In order to maintain the Bird rights to Favors (or Exum or Neto, for that matter), they have to reserve a certain amount on their cap as a “hold.” In Favors’ case, that figure is 150% of his current salary, or $18 million. As long as they keep that hold on their books, they still have the right to re-sign Fav to any amount. But if they clear that hold in order to create cap space, then they lose his Bird rights.

So they can do what you’re suggesting, but only if they find a different way to create cap space while still keeping Favors’ hold amount on the books — which would be very difficult.

Assuming Denver doesn’t win one of the top 3 picks in the lottery tomorrow night. Is 21 and Tony Bradley enough to get Denver to give us 14? Also, why is Denver almost certainly going to make that deal?


Haha no. And I have no idea why Denver still answers the phone when Dennis Lindsey calls. Especially on draft night.

In an actually serious question: maybe it’s just the success of Orlando draft picks once they leave Orlando, but hearing a lot of people who like a potential Mario Hezonja pickup.


Hez can play, and the Magic won’t have matching rights since they declined his fourth-year option. The question I’ve heard about Hez is whether or not he had too much of an attitude/ego to exist within a strong culture. I have no idea if he’s addressed that concern or not, but the fact that Orlando chose not to keep their former top-five pick back for a fourth season makes me worry some. 

When are exceptions (MLE, bi-annual, room, etc.) determined? Is it based on cap space at the beginning of FA including cap holds?


Aside from the room exception*, those exceptions will apply to the Jazz’s team salary sheet starting on July 1, until one of the following happens:

  • They use them.
  • They fall below the salary cap by a number greater than the total of their exceptions (this won’t happen).
  • They rescind their exceptions to create cap room.

(*The room exception is only available to teams who were under the salary cap in the first place and then spent that money to get back to the cap.)

The Jazz wouldn’t revoke their exceptions unless there was something they wanted to do that they couldn’t get done with the MLE ($9M) and their other exceptions. That would also mean that they had a path to creating more than $9M in space, meaning they had deals lined up for Burks or some other Jazz player(s) under contract, and had decided not to bring back at least a couple of the option-year veterans. 

Who do you think the most realistic player the Jazz will add this offseason?


Which possible 2019 FA do you think the Jazz have the highest chance of getting? And which do you think the Jazz would benefit the most from?


Guessing at specific names is a bit like throwing a dart blindfolded. For example, nobody foresaw the Jazz signing Sefolosha or Udoh last season, or Joe Johnson the year before. I think they’ll add a decent bench player or two with their free agent exceptions OR they’ll swing a trade where they get a non-star starter whose team needs to reshuffle the books.

Of the 2019 guys, I have a longstanding public crush on Khris Middleton, who I think would be perfect for the Jazz… but I don’t think they’re getting him. Klay Thompson or Tobias Harris are popular fan picks, too. Those are the names that are motivating all the 2019 talk, however realistically. (More on those three down below.)

How much $$$ will Will Barton get? Any chance Jazz could get him to help with the scoring?


If you sign Barton, are you letting Exum walk? Because Barton doesn’t have the size to play the three, and you probably have close to all 96 backcourt minutes allocated already between Rubio, Mitchell and Exum, don’t you? I like Barton in certain contexts; he’s sort of the better version of a Burks-style player, someone who can score in bunches with the ball in his hands. But, like Burks, he does his best work out of system, so I’m curious if the Jazz would be all that interested. 

Any under the radar low(er) cost potential free agents you see that would still leave powder dry for ’19?


Well if you’re trying to keep the “powder dry,” then you’re talking about one-year deals specifically, or guys who would be willing to sign the Sefolosha/Jerebko type deals with a non-guaranteed second year. So you’d be talking about guys in that tier: veterans or guys who have had an up-and-down start and believe a solid year can return their value. Maybe that’s where a guy like Hezonja takes a bet on himself. Here are some names of guys who made less than $9M last year but had decent wins-added stats: Wayne Ellington, Anthony Tolliver, Joe Harris, Aron Baynes. 

How do the Jazz move up in the draft and who do they take, do they move out, or if they stick around at 21 who do they select?


I’m a total NBA-head, which means I’m usually late to the game when it comes to analyzing draft prospects. So I’ll save the bulk of the question for later when I know a little bit more. But in the meantime, here’s something I wrote last year about the historical cost of moving up in the draft. That answers part of your question while I get caught up on the world outside the Association.

If LeBron leaves Cleveland, seems like they’d most likely trade Love for picks and young guys. If that scenario plays out, do the Jazz try to get Love? And what would they have to give up?


Love is really good, one of two players in the NBA to average 17 & 9 while making 40% of his threes last season1. He’s an all-league talent who’s not that far removed from his prime. He’s good enough that it’s hard to imagine the Jazz outbidding 28 other teams with their non-Rudy, non-DM assets. I suppose if the Cavs and Favors had mutual interest, the Jazz could explore a sign-and-trade that landed them Love, but S&Ts are hard to orchestrate, and I just don’t see them as having the asset juice (outside of the two untouchables) to get it done otherwise.

If Fav is out, do you think targeting a guy like Ryan Anderson in the trade market would be a smart replacement?


I’m sure there are people who would love that, but I’ve never been wild about the Jazz fit there. Anderson does one thing really well: he shoots the heck out of the ball. He’s not a good rebounder or passer, and he’s enough of a liability on defense that he has disappeared from Houston’s rotation for chunks of games. At 30, he’s not going to suddenly get better at defending, and he’s equally bad protecting the paint AND guarding out on the perimeter. That’s not to say that a team couldn’t figure out how to make good use of his offensive gravity for short stretches off the bench, but he’s no longer a starter-caliber player. 

Everyone says the Rockets are matching any contract Clint Capela is offered. How in the world can they afford Harden, CP3, a likely max to Capela, and Anderson? More about our competition than the Jazz, but relevant.


They can pay all of them because they have Bird rights to all of them. Sure, paying them all will push them into luxury tax territory, but it’s easy enough for a legit contender to justify a year of tax-paying. They could try to move Anderson, but even if they can’t offload him, they’ll have plenty of veterans lining up to sign there for minimum salaries and exception deals to be part of a team that could take a shot at toppling the Warriors’ dynasty.


NBA Cap Environment

How are you feeling the 2019 FA cap market will look? Assuming the Jazz lose Favors, re-sign Exum, and sign a FA or two on one year deals to maintain flexibility.


The Jazz are positioning themselves to have cap flexibility in 2019, but what do they do with it?


Well, more teams will have the ability to create meaningful space, and that’s the biggest difference. The free agent class itself is deeper, too, but the market as a whole will be more of a seller’s market, as compared to this year when only a few teams can really make a lot of noise.

The reason we keep talking about the 2019 free agents are those names we mentioned above — guys like Middleton, Thompson, Tobias Harris. The problem is, it’s not clear if the Jazz can get to any of those. Middleton is at this point legitimately the Bucks’ second-best player. By the time Thompson hits the market, GSW might have three or four titles with this group and be very motivated to keep everything together. And the Clippers, after trading their franchise face to get Harris, might want more for him than the Jazz have to give.

Of course, those are just three of the names available. But the point here is that it’s easier to say, “The Jazz should go get ____ next summer” than to go and get him, especially in a market with more bidders.

What teams in the NBA do you think have the worst cap management issues? How would you grade Utah’s cap management over the last 5 years?


The biggest thing the Jazz have done is that they’ve continued to set up multiple options, so that they’re never backed into a corner if Plan A falls through. They haven’t nailed every single decision, but they’ve given themselves several bites at the apple, and that’s worth something. Of course, “cap flexibility” can’t grab a rebound or score a playoff bucket, but the reason the Jazz have been able to assemble their current roster is because they’ve always preserved enough in the asset cupboard to be able to get things done: the Mitchell and Gobert trades being prime examples.

In terms of bad cap management, I’d look at teams who are capped out (or flirting with the tax) for a middling roster. Charlotte, Detroit and the Clippers all missed the playoffs despite paying close to $120 million to their players. But there’s something worse than overpaying for mediocrity: being directionless. Teams like the Kings, Knicks and Bulls keep making moves that make me wonder what their short-term goals are. Sacramento’s decisions over the last 10 or 11 months are particularly perplexing in that respect: they’ll make a move that makes it look like they’re trying to be good, then follow it up with a clear tanking move. It’s just not clear what they’re doing.

Thanks for all the questions!

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

One Comment

  1. Spencer says:

    Players to look into with potential who may turn into something:
    1-Skal Labisier
    2-Mario Hezonia
    4-Noah Vonleh

    Draft Targets
    1-Kevin Knox-
    2-Kevin Hervey –
    3-Chandler Hutchison-

    Players who may be available via trade (and be better here):
    1-Evan Fournier
    2–Bobby Portis

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