Offseason Q&A: Trading Up, KAT/Rudy, Impact Depth & More

May 22nd, 2018 | by Dan Clayton



Another week, another set of reader questions.

At least for this first part of the offseason, we’ll make these Q&A posts a regular thing as long as there are still questions coming in. There certainly were this week, starting with a question that I love because it sets up one of my pet topics at this time of year: draft trade history.

Realistically who would the Jazz need to add to a deal to move up in the draft? And do you think they will try to move up?


Trading up in the draft is harder than Dennis Lindsey has made it look. In the 18 drafts since the turn of the century, a total of 99 deals have been made on or leading up to draft day involving a first-round pick. That means only about five such deals per year actually wind up happening, and only a portion of those are trade-up deals (as opposed to teams acquiring a pick for a player or future assets).

Lindsey’s trade wizardry might make him a victim of raised expectations, as lately he’s seemingly been able to sprinkle his magical fairy dust over his own late picks and turn them into Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert-level players. that type of move is still rare, especially from the Jazz’s current draft range. Here are the 10 draft-day trades made since 2000 where a team started at or around No. 21 (+/- three spots) and moved up, ordered from the smallest jumps to the biggest ones.

  • The ’07 Sixers moved up 1 spot by packaging #21 with a future second and cash. They selected Jason Smith at No. 20.
  • The ’02 Jazz moved up 1 spot by packaging #19 and #47. They selected Curtis Borchardt at No. 18.
  • The ’13 Hawks moved up 2 spots by trading #18 and also absorbing Jared Cunningham. They selected Lucas Nogueira at No. 16.
  • The ’09 Blazers moved up 2 spots by packaging #24 with #56 and a future second. They selected Victor Claver at No. 22.
  • The ’11 Rockets moved up 3 spots by packaging #23 with a future first and cash, and absorbing Brad Miller’s contract. They selected Donatas Motiejunas at No. 20.
  • The ’15 Wiz moved up 4 spots by packaging #19 with a pair of future seconds. They selected Kelly Oubre Jr. at No. 15.
  • The ’12 Cavs moved up 7 spots by packaging #24, #33 and #34. They selected Tyler Zeller at No. 17.
  • The ’10 Thunder moved up 10 spots by packaging #21 with #26 and absorbing Mo Peterson’s contract. They selected Cole Aldrich at No. 11.
  • The ’17 Jazz moved up 11 spots by packaging #24 with lottery rookie Trey Lyles. They selected Mitchell at No. 13.
  • The ’11 Bobcats moved up 12 spots by by packaging #19 with their leading scorer (Stephen Jackson) and key reserve (Shaun Livingston) and absorbing the contract of Corey Maggette. They selected Bismack Biyombo at No. 7.

If we synthesize all that history, it’s easy to piece together a rough guide for trading up from the Jazz’s current spot. Smaller jumps can be made by attaching a second and/or taking some salary back, and bigger jumps require an additional first or some really good/promising players. And you don’t get into the top 10 without attaching a star. Utah really only has two guys who fit that bill, and neither are on the table this summer.

One further note before I wrap up this epistle of an answer: a lot of draftniks are telling me that this year’s draft class has talent into the 20s. That could make Utah content to sit back and let somebody good fall to them. Or it could mean that the Jazz’s pick has good value in the event that there’s someone they secretly covet and a team in the teens decides to move back.

What’s the biggest offer that Dante Exum could get that would make you tap out if you were GM?


What is the most you would pay for each of our current free agents?


That’s tough to answer in a vacuum. Who else is re-signing? What is available on the trade market? How are the Jazz going to use their pick?

That said, here’s my all-other-things-being-equal answers.

  • Derrick Favors will almost certainly get eight-figure offers. I’ve been guesstimating his range at $12 to 15 million, which is basically the low end of starter money in today’s environment. I could see him getting more than that in the right scenario, too, especially on a shorter deal. If the Jazz are the winning bidder and it’s anything north of $15M, it will probably be on a one-year deal.
  • Exum’s value is harder to peg, but teams asked about Exum in February. And the only reason you’d ask about an injured player approaching restricted free agency is if you were interested in him for the long term. So he’ll have some suitors. The Jazz would probably match anything into the mid-teens if they have to, but let’s not pretend that’s without risk. I personally think Exum’s two or three elite skills give him a pretty safe floor as a rotation-caliber guy who changes the tempo and guards the heck out of the other team’s best ball handler for 20 minutes a night. But let’s say you match at $15M and then that’s all he is. That’s becomes steep, in much the same way that Alec Burks’ 2014 extension now looks steep. There’s also a really good chance they could lock him up for less if they don’t mess around with him and play the “bring us an offer” game.
  • As much as Raul Neto is a fan favorite, he probably shouldn’t cost much more than the minimum to retain. He is basically the fourth point guard (OK, third and a half, since Exum and Mitchell each play some SG) and something like the 11th or 12th man overall. In a modern cap construct, you just can’t really afford for your deep bench guys to be earning much more than a couple million.

Are there any positions that you think the team is lacking depth in?


So there’s rotational depth and then there’s impact player depth. One of the Jazz’s real strengths is that they have an abundance of rotation-quality guys. And they have enough multi-positional guys that they can piece together a 9 or 10-man sub pattern in a lot of different ways. Just looking at the 13-man group who played most of the minutes, they have as many as 4 dudes who play some PG, plus Joe Ingles who acts as a de facto floor general in many situations. Seven of those 13 play at least some wing minutes, and they have six different guys capable of logging minutes at the 4 or 5. So there’s no one spot where you look and say, “Dang, they need bodies.” That answer changes if Fav walks, but they can paper over a lot of situations with their interchangeable parts.

It’s the impact depth that they need to address. Some people have framed this as the quest for a “third star,” but I think about it more broadly. Great teams have a number of guys who can really impact a game in different ways. Not just a one-skill specialist, but someone who can make winning plays in any type of game. For example think of the Jazz-Rox series: Houston’s first three guys off the bench are PJ Tucker, Eric Gordon and Luc Mbah a Moute. Any of those three guys could slide into a starting role without inspiring much anxiety. Plus they have Ryan Anderson, who didn’t play a lot in that series but has started more than half his games in recent years. The Jazz don’t have THAT type of depth right now.

And it’s not a positional thing, to get back to Dan’s question. It’s just about having more guys they trust to be more than a specialist. Utah’s starters are all at least average NBA starters at their respective positions, and Jae Crowder is a guy who would start on a lot of teams. But they probably need a couple more of that type of guy. Thabo Sefolosha plays winning basketball when he’s healthy, and there’s some newly kindled hope that Exum can be another difference-maker.

I can’t stop thinking that Glenn Robinson III would be an awesome under-the-radar pickup for the Jazz. He’s athletic, defends, can shoot the three and I think still has a ton of room for development. Your thoughts on him as a target?


He looked OK in limited minutes once he got back from that nasty ankle injury. That said, he has only topped 600 minutes once in his four-year career, so it’s tough to know at this point what’s really there. For that reason, if the Jazz got him it would likely be more as a low-cost flier, as opposed to actually planning a rotation spot for him. If you want him in the rotation, you really have to decide that he’s an upgrade over Royce O’Neale at that backup wing spot, which means you’d have to think his O outweighs Royce’s elite D. It probably doesn’t, with overall shooting efficiency that’s actually below average (.529 last season, .536 career). Some of that is because he doesn’t have a great shot profile. He likes mid and long range twos way too much. Get him in a structure where he’ll get more open three looks and his efficiency would likely creep up. But O’Neale probably already impacts the game more in an overall sense, so Robinson would be a deep bench addition, it seems.

Given the rumblings about Karl Anthony Towns over the weekend, would it be worth considering a trade built around Rudy Gobert for KAT? 


KAT is a special player. He’s the only in the past seven seasons1 to average 20 & 9 with over 40% three-point shooting. He’s likely going to be a perennial All-Star and potentially an MVP candidate. And yet if it were my team, I’d keep Gobert. That’s how much he impacts the team defensively, and more than that, culturally. He’s the Jazz’s spiritual compass, plus he wants to be there and is already an All-NBA player when healthy2. They’re both really good. They’re both going to get better. But the Jazz were crafted around Rudy’s strengths.

Two scenarios: Jazz keep Favors on a one-year deal worth $15-$18 million or Jazz don’t re-sign him. In each scenario, who do you like that’s a realistic FA target and why? Understood that there are other factors like Exum and picking up last summer’s guys’ options, but in general.


If the Jazz keep Fav on a one-year deal, then what they’re essentially saying is that they’re ready to take a shot on next year’s free agent class. They’ll probably take a swing at the Khris Middleton, Klay Thompson and Tobias Harris class, whether that fits into your “realistic” qualifier or not. If Favors leaves, the Jazz realistically only have the ability to create $15M or so in space3, so they honestly might approach it the same way and look ahead to 2019. But if they did decide to spend all or some of that $15M on a 2018 free agent, that might be enough for a proven starter like a JJ Redick, Trevor Ariza or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope type. Joe Harris is a value guy I like, Wayne Ellington would add more shooting, and Mario Hezonja might be worth a flier… and hey, Ricky Rubio seems to like Nemanja Bjelica.

If I went to the future – came back – and told you that the Jazz traded their first rounder, Burks, Sefolosha, and Jonas Jerebko for Otto Porter, then signed Bjelica to a 3 yr, $16m deal. How would you rank that offseason?


I like Otto, and so do the Jazz. I followed up with Adam and he told me that in this scenario, the Jazz also get Favors back for a year and lock in Exum on a 2-plus-1. That would be a pretty solid team. I also think Washington could get more than that for Porter, but who knows.

Side note on the Wiz: they’re one of those teams that have long been rumored to be after a center upgrade, but they don’t really have ways to get it done since they’re limited to exceptions and are already above next season’s estimated tax line with just 10 players under contract. So they could try to approach Favors with the MLE or with sign-and-trade scenarios, although either of those routes would hard-cap them.

Where is Mitchell’s best position? Should he be playing exclusively off the ball? Exclusively point? A mix? And who would be the ideal player to pair with Mitchell in the Jazz’s backcourt?


I don’t think the traditional position definition is that important since the Jazz generate a lot of offense from their wings anyway. But I do think there’s something to the idea that it’s too heavy a burden if the Jazz need him to score 20 and create for everybody else. That’s why I think he need to share the floor with another guard who can put pressure on the defense off the dribble. Both Rubio and Exum can do that. I have heard a lot of people say he needs to play next to shooters, but I think the Houston series showed that the Jazz offense can stall when Don is the only guy on the court who can break the paint. 

What is next realistic evolution for Gobert? Lateral quickness? Mid range jumper? Better offensive footwork?


I answered a similar question toward the end of last week’s Q&A, so I’m going to give you the quick answer here. I think it’s mostly about getting better at what he is, not trying to become something entirely different on offense. Specifically, he can get better at catching and finishing in tight spaces (and with contact).

How aggressive do you anticipate the Jazz FO to be this off-season? Same question for 2019


Check out last week’s Q&A for a more detailed answer, but broadly speaking, I think they’ll be more active next summer from a free agency perspective. But don’t discount trades, either. They can use those Sefolosha/Jerebko/Udoh deals this summer to create some trade flexibility without ever going under the cap.

Burks is a decent player, could be a rotation player in some teams, but the Jazz is too deep. Agree? Do you think some teams may agree with that? And if so, could the Jazz move up in the draft trading AB? Even if it’s just a little?


Burks probably helped his value a bit in the playoffs. It’s helpful that he reminded the basketball world he exists, and there are teams that could use a pure bucket-getter on their bench. But I still don’t know if a fringe rotation player with an 8-figure salary has the asset juice to move the Jazz up in the draft. (See the first answer above for some move-up trade history.) His most likely trade scenario at this point is that he’s used as expiring salary filler in a deal where the Jazz bring back some money. Especially if you combine his $11.5M with one of the vet options, you can receive a pretty hefty salary back.

That will do it for this week. Thanks for 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


  1. Paul Johnson says:

    In the last sentence of this article, you mentioned that if you combined Burks’ salary with one of the vet options, you could receive a pretty hefty salary back? What do you mean by this?

  2. Pingback: Offseason Q&A: Otto Porter, Utah’s 2018-19 Ceiling, Sign-and-Trade & More | Salt City Hoops

  3. Pingback: Offseason Q&A: Utah’s chances at PG, cap questions & other targets | Salt City Hoops

  4. Pingback: Offseason Q&A: Another Rudy is Available, MLE Targets, Draft Trades & More | Salt City Hoops

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