Playing GM – Reviewing Our Own Free Agents

June 24th, 2013 | by Laura Thompson

Evaluating our own free agents in a vacuum–ignoring other free agents out there, just for fun here–which of our players would I keep if I were GM?

Al Jefferson

Last year: $15 million

If I were GM: Al has a lot of great qualities: a proven, low-post scorer, low turnover rate, great teammate and mentor. As much as I like the guy, I, personally, don’t want him back under any circumstances, for a few reasons:

1. While Al has dramatically improved as a passer, he still takes too much time to make his move—17 pivots and four pump fakes are the norm, right?—and it often causes the other four players to stand around and stagnate the offense.

2. His aversion to contact means he rarely gets to the line, never getting the opposing player in foul trouble and decreasing his efficiency offensively.

3. His defense. Enough has been said there over the last few years.

For $15 million, you need to know exactly what you’re getting for the player. We’ve had Al for three years now, and I don’t think we have any clear cut answer as to whether or not he’s made the team that much better. He’s got great offensive moves, but his molasses-slow defense has often been the target of other teams, especially running the pick-and-roll in fourth quarters of close games.

In order for Hayward and Favors to take over the leadership role, there has to a vacancy. As long as Al Jefferson is on the team, there’s no way Hayward and Favors would have the seniority or credibility to be The Leaders, but in order for this team to be successful in the long run, they need to be the leaders. Their two-way play would demand the same of others.

Mo Williams

Last year: $8.5 million

If I were GM: I’d only consider him back at $5 million and if I had assurances from Ty that he’d come off the bench. Unfortunately, Mo is not a starting point guard for a top playoff team; he doesn’t make his teammates better and he looks for his own shot too much, resorting to hero ball and taking some awful shots at the wrong times. If the two conditions from the first sentence aren’t met, I’d rather him sign elsewhere.

Bottom line question: Are the Jazz better next year if Mo’s on the team? I think the answer is a “maybe marginally better” and I don’t think that’s worth his price tag, especially at the expense of others’ minutes. If I were GM, Mo wouldn’t be back.

Paul Millsap

Last year: $8.6 million

If I were GM: I’d have similar conditions for Millsap, which is painful to say at this point because he’s been my favorite Jazz man since his hustle and grit his rookie year. Unfortunately, that Paul Millsap is somewhat a distant memory. But if he were to sign for $20 million/3 years, and if he were willing to come off the bench (I realize that’s unlikely), I’d love to have him back. Otherwise, I hope he finds a great home. I know he thinks he’s a starting power forward on a playoff team, but even if that’s true, unless the team has LeBron or some other superstar, it’s not a team that’s getting out of the first round.

Randy Foye

Last year: $2.5 million

If I were GM: I’d bring him back on a similar contract. I didn’t always love Foye—his defense left a lot to be desired, with a few notable exceptions—and I certainly thought he played more minutes, at times, than I would have liked. But his ability to hit the three is one of the things the Jazz desperately need. Even with adding three three-point shooters last year in Marvin, Mo, and Foye, we still only jumped three spots in three-point shooting, still near the bottom of the league. That will have to be addressed before we can make any significant jump in the standings, and keeping Foye, at a reasonable price, is part of that. I’d bring him back for $5-$6 million/2 years.

Earl Watson

Last year: $2.0 million

If I were GM: I like Earl Watson. A lot. Definitely more than his play warrants, because I think every team needs a guy who is wise, positive, and encouraging for young players. Add that to the fact that Watson is a tough player and a pesky defender and you’ve got a great end-of-the-bench sort of guy. Unfortunately, his shot is rarely on and he wasn’t really able to get into any sort of groove last season. But if he were willing to come back on another similar contract ($2 million/1 year), I’d keep him, though it’s a toss-up between him and Jamaal Tinsley for a third-string PG. I think one of the two might be nice to have back, assuming we draft a rookie PG (or two?) and sign or trade for another PG. Having a constant at the PG position as the new PGs acclimate to the new system might be helpful.

Jamaal Tinsley

Last year: $1.4 million

If I were GM: Again, for me it’s a toss-up between Watson and Tinsley; Tinsley runs the team better than Mo and Watson, but his (lack of) shooting allows other teams to pack the paint. His wizardry and craftiness is really fun to watch, but if he landed elsewhere, I’d survive.

DeMarre Carroll

Last year: $885k

Of the Jazz’s own free agents, I think DeMarre Carroll is the most important one to re-sign. Credit Kevin O’Connor for picking up DMC after being waived by the Nuggets. He’s gritty, a hustler, a defender, a rebounder, and a gambler. Throw in an improved shooter (out to three-point range), and you’ve got a great spark off the bench. If I were GM, I’d lock him in at $10 million/3 years with a team option for a fourth year.

Kevin Murphy

Last year: $473k

Next year: $788k (team option)

If I were GM: I don’t feel I saw enough of Kevin Murphy to say definitively yay or nay. So, for me, it’d come down to, “Do we need more bodies to fill the roster?” If not, I’d let him walk.

Jerel McNeal

Last year: $61k

If I were GM: If you need a guy to fill a roster spot and McNeal seems more promising than anyone that could be had with #46 or signed  from the free-agent camp, keep him. Otherwise, I hope he can find a good fit elsewhere in the league.

Bottom Line: If I were GM, I’d make DeMarre Carroll the #1 option of our own free agents. After that, maybe pick between Tinsley or Watson for a third-string PG, sign Foye to a reasonable contract (with the condition that he’ll be playing fewer minutes, and possibly off the bench). Otherwise, I’d let everyone else walk, unless I needed some cheap bodies—like McNeal, Murphy, etc.—to fill the roster.

What about you? Who would you keep? At what price? Conditions?

Laura Thompson

Laura Thompson

Laura was a Jazz fan since diapers, even growing up in California. Her favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach--though possibly not in that order.
Laura Thompson


  1. Jeremy Pitt says:

    This is pretty close to how I see it. I think Al is gone for sure. I would love to have Paul back, and maybe we explore the option of the Big Lineup again? If not, I’ll cheer for him on another team. The only one I disagree with is Mo. I think everyone’s down on Mo, and when you ask who’s the veteran point guard we can have next year to get the team through… I think the answer should be Mo Williams. It makes more sense than bringing in another point guard who doesn’t know the system and who may not be any better.

  2. Clint Johnson says:

    I agree with most things you say as well. The exceptions being:

    1) I would keep Paul for $8 million a year if he agreed to be the sixth man. If he mentally and emotionally embraced that role, I think he would be a sixth man of the year candidate every year.

    2) It sounds silly, but if the Jazz decide to keep an aging veteran point guard I would keep Watson with the understanding that he would transition into an assistant coach, and would be an unofficial coach on the floor in practice this season. When asked which Jazz player last year would most likely become a coach, Corbin said Watson. Why not give him assurance you will keep a spot for him on the bench if he agrees to mentor younger point guards under the understanding he isn’t going to get game minutes except for a true emergency.

  3. Lee Nielson says:

    I think out of the free agents we have I would bring back Carrol, Watson and Foye! Carrol the #1 option, Watson #2 and Foye #3! I would lettherest of them walk!

  4. Trevor says:

    I think Milsap coming off the bench for a reasonable price would be great, but I’m guessing he he’d rather be on a contender for that price. Aren’t there sign and trade options available for Big Al?

  5. Scott says:

    Love the break down! Carroll is a good #1 choice and seems like a Utah Jazz guy.

    I think I might be a little higher on Foye than most though and I would re-sign him. He is not going to be a locker room issue, he is not going to detract from what we all suppose will be a youth movement, and he had the best 3 point year in Jazz history. Having a roster with young bigs who have developing offensive games, it will be a huge help to give them some extra space to work because defenders have to stay out on guys like Foye. He’s not an all-world defender, but he made efforts. He fits a good role player need. We need shooters and there aren’t many others on the free market.

    I do like the idea of signing Watson to mentor young point guards. He has been fairly vocal about his desire to be a coach at some point and this will be an opportunity for him to showcase his ability to teach. It would have to be made clear that that is his role and I can see him accepting it since I don’t think he’ll have loads of other offers.

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