In trying to temper expectations after a stellar offseason, I thought it might be interesting to look at recent offseasons and see if maybe, just maybe, it’s okay to get my hopes up. Going into a new season is often exciting—fresh start, improving players, new players—especially now that we have a coach and coaching staff impressively dedicated to player development and defense. I was so excited to see how the team was going to come together last season, and then Dante’s ACL tear dampened my eagerness. But this year? This year, I’m pumped. The moves Dennis Lindsey made this offseason have bolstered my hopes and expectations just like he’s bolstered the bench.
So, how has this offseason stacked up over recent years, with the 20/20 vision that hindsight brings? Let’s go back to 2010, when Gordon Hayward was the 9th pick by the Jazz in the 2010 NBA Draft:
Drafted: Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans
Traded: Boozer to Bulls for Trade Exception; Kosta Koufos and Trade Exception for Al Jefferson
Signed: Raja Bell, Francisco Elson, Earl Watson
After years of hearing about the famed Knicks pick, many Jazz fans were hoping for a franchise-changing player with the 2010 pick. When the Jazz ended up with skinny Gordon Hayward out of Butler, many booed the pick by Kevin O’Connor, who promised that we’d be a singing a different tune within a couple of years. His prediction was entirely accurate, as Hayward is a great player and a perfect fit in Quin Snyder’s system.
Getting anything for Boozer was gravy; he wanted to be paid (“I’m gonna get paid” and “I’m a starter. Period.” were some classics stated during his time, often on the bench), so the fact we got a trade exception in exchange for Boozer, which was utilized to pick up Al Jefferson in a trade, was a great move. Many were excited for Round Two with Raja Bell, though that signing never produced the relationship or results hoped for. Earl Watson was a really solid pickup.
Drafted: Enes Kanter, Alec Burks
Signed: Jamaal Tinsley, Keith McLeod (waived), Trey Gilder (waived), Josh Howard
An offseason that didn’t have much of a splash, but included a couple of draft picks with potential—though, admittedly, with an implied long-term potential—and some steadying veterans in Tinsley and Howard. Newly acquired Derrick Favors also fit into that category, with both Favors and Kanter slated to develop behind starters Paul Millsap and Jefferson.
Drafted: Kevin Murphy
Traded: Received Mo Williams from LA Clippers (using Trade Exception); Received Marvin Williams for Devin Harris
Signed: Randy Foye, Chris Quinn (waived), Trey Gilder (waived), Darnell Jackson (waived)
I remember being really excited after this offseason, thinking that Foye, Mo, and Marvin Williams were going to move the needle for the Jazz. Oof. I was wrong. Maybe in a different system or with a different coach, things could have been better (as evidenced by the career resurgence Marvin Williams has experienced in Charlotte). But these moves did highlight the Jazz’s need for solid point guard play, improved shooting, and veteran leadership, trends that have continued through this offseason.
Drafted: Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert, Raul Neto
Traded: Received 5 draft picks (2 1sts, 3 2nds), Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush, Andris Biedrins; (Note: one future first became Rodney Hood) for Kevin Murphy, Randy Foye
Signed: John Lucas III, Jamaal Tinsley
An offseason where John Lucas III is your top signing is a rough one. Luckily, with hindsight, we see that Lindsey struck gold picking Rudy Gobert late in the 1st round and, at the time, the Trey Burke pick was a solid move, especially for a team desperate for a solid point guard (as evidenced by the signings of Lucas III and Uncle Jamaal). Neto was a pick-and-stash pick who, again, with hindsight, has turned out to be a very solid pick. The biggest news of the 2013 offseason was obviously the salary trade dump that brought Biedrins, Jefferson, and Rush to the Jazz, along with five future picks, one of which turned into Rodney Hood.
Fired: Tyrone Corbin; Hired Quin Snyder
Drafted: Dante Exum, Rodney Hood
Traded: Received Steve Novak and 2nd Round Pick for Diante Garrett; Received Carrick Felix, cash, 2nd Round Pick for John Lucas III + Erik Murphy + Malcom Thomas; Felix later waived
Signed: Trevor Booker, Dee Bost (waived), Jack Cooley (waived), Brock Motum (waived), Kevin Murphy (waived), Dahntay Jones (waived), Tre Bussey (waived)
Claimed: Jordan Hamilton off waivers (Toronto Raptors), waived; Joe Ingles off waivers (LA Clippers), signed
While neither of the trades proved to “work,” there were lots of positives from the 2014 offseason. You won’t find many (any?) disagreeing that the Rodney Hood pick was a great one, especially later in the first round. While the jury is still out on Dante due to his ACL tear last summer, he has shown flashes of great play on offense and his defense has been a game-changer for a team that’s become so defense-focused. Time will tell whether drafted Dante was a great move or just a fine move. The Trevor Booker signing was a great signing at the time and for the price, and the Ingles pickup was also very solid. But perhaps the most significant change of the offseason was the firing of Tyrone Corbin and the hiring of Quin Snyder. In the years since, Snyder has implemented a culture and blueprint for defense, discipline, and development.
Drafted: Trey Lyles, Olivier Hanlan
Signed: Jeff Withey, J.J. O’Brien (waived)
While there wasn’t a flurry of activity during the 2015 offseason, the Lyles pick has proven to be a very good one. His offensive game is ahead of where many expected, though he’ll have to work on his defense to match his teammates’ two-way play. Hanlan later turned into Boris Diaw, so that can’t be all bad, and Jeff Withey was solid, if unspectacular last year. Given more minutes or consistency, he could be an impact player.
Drafted: Taurean Prince (traded), Marcus Paige (via trade), Joel Bolomboy, Tyrone Wallace
Traded: Received Boris Diaw for Olivier Hanlan; Received George Hill for Taurean Prince; Received 2nd Round Pick from Warriors for Trey Burke
Signed: Joe Johnson
With both hindsight and side-by-side comparison, you can see how the 2016 offseason is an exciting one for Jazz fans. There was a combination of both activity and big(ger) names, a combination which hasn’t been seen in a loooong time. The George Hill trade has the potential to go down as one of the more underrated moves of the summer, as his defensive presence and three-point shooting are precisely what this team needs, especially as Dante eases back into game play. Boris Diaw provides the playmaking big coveted now by teams, while the signing of Joe Johnson not only bolsters the bench, but also improves our outside shooting and defensive length. The more minor draft picks show Lindsey’s constant search for improvement at the margins and offers more talent for the D-League team.
Doing the research and looking into previous offseasons made me even more excited for this next season. Hopefully the result will be different than after the Mo, Marvin Williams, and Randy Foye pickups. Given the system Snyder has in place and Lindsey’s penchant for finding diamonds in the rough, I’m confident the result will be much better.