NBA trade season is just around the corner. Starting December 15, most NBA players1 are suddenly eligible to be traded, which is why the peak window for midseason NBA trades is the two-month span from December 15 to the February deadline. Here we go.
If you believe the rumors, the Utah Jazz may already be eyeing that market, which means it’s time once again to take stock of the asset arsenal. As we did last year, let’s a stab as to which Jazz players are the most or least likely to be part of a move this season.
Here’s a quick reminder on what this ranking is and isn’t:
A team in the Jazz’s current position can’t really have any completely unavailable players. But it would take a knock-your-socks-off offer to get the Jazz comfy with the idea of shipping any of these three2 this season.
14. Gordon Hayward. The team’s best player so far, putting up an All-star range PER and WS so far, and even those numbers underrate how completely the Jazz depend on him right now. He’s fresh of a huge commitment to and from the Jazz. An added trade rule wrinkle makes him even less likely to move than the other two: until next July, Hayward can veto any trades.
13. Dante Exum. The Jazz were clear going into the 2014 Draft: they wanted to get a potential franchise player. That might or might not be Exum, but until they know, there’s a very short list of players that would make them consider a swap, and those guys aren’t available.
12. Derrick Favors. Also putting up star numbers, and his salary looks really nice against the new cap structure, but like Hayward and Exum, he’s not going anywhere unless the Jazz are bowled over by an offer.
A special little subcategory for one guy.
11. Alec Burks. I really argued with myself on whether Burks’ extension puts him in the “definitely part of what they’re building around” category, or if he’s still someone whose value could be parlayed at some point. I can’t bring myself to call him as off-limits as the last trio, but either way, he’s extremely unlikely to move before July for contractual reasons. As a player with a pending extension, the Jazz have to treat him like a $3M player for trade purposes, but the other team would have to treat him like a $9M player3. Without getting too mathy, that makes it impossible to deal Alec without adding other players to the mix4. How available they view him after 7/1 probably depends on the answers to a bunch of questions about Exum, Trey Burke and the rest of Utah’s perimeter posse.
The Min-Level Crew
Historically, guys at or around minimum salary are more likely to be traded when they’re along for the ride, sweetening a larger package. That makes this group less likely than most to leave Utah via a swap.
10. Joe Ingles. Of this group, Jingles is the guy the Jazz most likely want to keep. As Matt Pacenza pointed out this week, he’s a tough player to figure out analytically, but he has earned a role on the team because of his smarts and his facilitation skills.
9. Ian Clark. Clark looked like he might be on the fringe of the rotation until the Ingles acquisition. Now, Clark is clearly somewhere between 11 & 13 on the depth chart.
8. Touré Murry. Nobody noticed, but Dennis Lindsey did something shrewd with Murry’s guaranteed amount. Murry becomes non-guaranteed after 21 games — literally less than a week before the December 15 start to the real trade season. Which means Murry will be one of those guys who can help make numbers work, but give the receiving team some options. Clever.
The Modest Value Chips
These players are more likely to generate a phone call than the group before, but less likely to bring a signifcant return than the next crew.
7. Steve Novak. Ranks as less likely than his group peers because his contract is the least friendly of the bunch, which affects his market value. With two years and almost $7M left, a team would have to want the sharpshooter. There’s definitely a market for stretch big men, but remember that the Jazz were bribed to absorb his salary. That might be a reflection of where the market is for him right now.
6. Rodney Hood. Utah would probably prefer to see what they have here. But it’s obvious that NBA GMs are aware of Hood, and think he has more value than a typical 23rd pick.
5. Jeremy Evans. Like Clark, he’s found himself outside the rotation, as we feared might be the case. But he’s a player that’s known around the league, with an expiring deal at a salary level where you could feasibly find something workable5.
4. Trevor Booker. From a basketball standpoint, Booker is the most attractive in this group in the immediate term. He also has a contract structure that makes him extremely tradable. The partial guaranteed in year two makes him one of those valuable guys teams trade for to increase flexibility.
The Jazz obviously really like everybody in this group. But they’re not completely off the table like some of their peers and they’re good enough to net something interesting. Imagine a Venn diagram with three circles: “potentially very good players,” “probably not franchise stars” and “commodities that could bring something valuable back.” Where those circles combine, you find the real trade pieces. I’m not saying they will, but if the Jazz get aggressive between now and June 306 to try and improve their roster and/or draft position, it probably involves one of these guys being in play.
3. Rudy Gobert. Give him credit: he’s played himself into a commodity with more consistent defense and some promising offensive moments. Those are reasons the Jazz may prefer to hang on — or, they could sell high if it could net them something relative to an eventual title chase. The fact that he plays behind the Jazz’s second best player — and can’t really be paired with Favors often because of the nature of Utah’s single-post philosophy — means he’s at least someone for whom you’d have to listen to offers.
2. Trey Burke. Burke is a big-shot-taking, facilitating, fear-nothing stud who has already grown before our eyes in 13 short months. But let’s be honest: Exum’s growth curve could accelerate the conversation about Burke’s role on the hypothetically title-contending Jazz. The easy answer is that you could pair them7, but long-term commitments to two guys who log a lot of minutes at SG — Burks and Hayward — throw that strategy into question. So while the Jazz really need Burke right now, it’s worth keeping an eye on how Burke’s role evolves as Exum gradually realizes his potential.
1. Enes Kanter. By now you’ve already heard the questions about Kanter’s fit on the Quin Snyder Jazz. Some feel a tad unfair at this point. But some aren’t, and in his early minutes are actually down from 2013-14, which could be a sign that Snyder isn’t sure just how to deploy the talented-but-inconsistent youngster. The lack of extension isn’t super telling — it was obviously unlikely — but it does keep the options open. Kanter’s impending status as a Restricted Free Agent and his hard deadline of February 19 both bring the likelihood down. But at this stage, I still him as more likely to move in the short term than Burke, whom the Jazz still need at this point.
The single most likely scenario might still be no trade at all. The Jazz are focused on the long term right now, so they’re not going to make a panicked move and they’re not going to do something that only helps improve this year’s team.
The point is, not everybody on this roster in off limits, and at some point the Jazz will start to think about whether their assets can produce something on the market that outweighs the eventual basketball value of those guys. If it happens in the next three to seven months, the guys at the bottom of this page are more likely to move than the rest.