NBA

So, What’s Next for the Utah Jazz?

Don’t get me wrong, I love this Utah Jazz team, but I think there will be some changes. Your three pillars are Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, and Rudy Gobert. They set the culture and are the core. But, what beyond that? I thought Ricky Rubio had a relatively good series. I couldn’t have expected better. That said, with Ricky as your starting point guard there is definitely a ceiling and that is even more true with both Favors and Gobert on the floor together. With Donovan’s continued development can chemistry overcome shooting deficiencies? Was the Houston series just an abnormally bad shooting display and the roster is really better than that? Donovan clearly needs another shot creator to help him on offense and we desperately need some shooting. Dennis Lindsay has some tough decisions to make this off season.

Favors was amazing this season, but can we pick up an option at around $18M if the plan is to play him as back-up Center like we did with success against Houston? Some team will pay him to start at Center and if that opportunity is out there for Derrick, don’t we have to let him go and wish him the best? He is clearly more effective as a 5 than he is a 4 and unless we plan on trading Rudy Gobert (which I just don’t think we can do), Favors is likely gone.

Would Ricky return to the Utah Jazz as a back-up?

If Ricky comes back, (which I wouldn’t mind; I like his leadership, he’s a good locker room guy, and a great member of the community), then it will need to be at $5M or less per season as our backup point guard. I used to think Dante was going to slide into a starting role or at least the back-up role, but now I’m thinking the Jazz might be looking for maybe two new point guards (though one of those might be Donovan and I’d love Neto if he could stay healthy). So Point Guard is probably the Jazz’s biggest need.

Here’s my wish list at point guard (in order):

Damian Lillard-Duh! But really, if Dame ever wants to leave Portland, we would have to do whatever it takes to get him. I know this one is unrealistic, but one can dream. Okay on to the more realistic options:

1-Patrick Beverly

Beverly would fit right in with the Utah Jazz’s defense.

Yes, this is my first choice, for the following reasons. Beverly is a bulldog, an in-your-face defender, and overall competitor. That is who the Jazz are and we don’t want to lose that identity. At the same time, Beverly shot 40% from three this season, which is what we need. With the Clips wanting to clear out cap space for a couple of max spots in hopes of luring Kawhi Leonard to LA, Beverly will be on the move, and I want him in Utah. While Beverly helps our shooting, he isn’t known as a shot creator. So, we’d need to address that need somewhere else. Beverly would be the cheapest option on this list, so we could spend more money upgrading another position.

2-Malcom Brogdon

Brogdon would be another great fit for the Jazz. He addresses the shooting need (42.6/50.5/92.8), but shooting is going to be paid a premium this offseason, so who knows how much it would take to sign him. Brogdon has thrived under fellow Poppovich coaching-tree-member, Coach Bud, so he might fit well in Snyder’s system. He is also restricted and signs are showing that Milwaukee would likely match whatever offer came in. Are the Bucks willing to go over the cap if it felt like it had to overspend to keep its core together? The Utah Jazz would likely use Ingles or Mitchell at the point more without a “true point guard” if this is the direction they went. Maybe that’s where Donovan needs to be anyway.

3-Jrue Holiday

A great option because he plays both sides of the ball. He’s an elite defender and an underrated scorer (does anyone realize he scored 21 ppg this season). He’s a shot creator and is tough. Jrue’s three-point shooting has declined the past couple of seasons and was only a 32.5 percent shooter from deep this season. The issue with Holiday is that this acquisition would need to be via trade because he is still under contract.

4-Kemba Walker

Would Walker consider leaving money on the table to come to Utah?

Offer him the max and pay him. He’d be a great compliment to Donovan on offense and give the Utah Jazz another shot creator. The downside is that he makes the Jazz small defensively (6-1 and 6-3) and Kemba is not exactly known for his defense. But he is a 35.7% career three-point shooter. You know Charlotte will offer Kemba the max so he’d be leaving money on the table and leaving the East (and the All-Star team) to come to Utah, which may be a long shot.

5-Mike Conley

Conley is a better three point shooter (37.5% career) than Walker and Holiday, but he is also the oldest player on this list (32 in October) and has a big contract ($32.5M and $34.5M the next two years). I like Conley as a player, but his age, injury history, and contract push him down this list. Also, I’m not sure what the Grizzlies would want for Conley at this point. During they season they were looking for expiring contracts and young talent/picks. The key of that trade was Favors’ contract, so do the Jazz pick up the option on Favors and then deal him? That would be interesting.

Wish List for Another Scorer

1-Tobias Harris

Tobias to the Utah Jazz on a max contract? Maybe.

Tobias Harris has played for five NBA teams already and doesn’t turn 27 until July. If the Sixers’ chemistry and his role in the offense has Harris concerned, maybe he’d look at a max deal from the Jazz. The Jazz are a team he identified last season as one he would be interested in playing for. Harris may not want to stick around in Philly where he saw his scoring and shooting numbers fall. Harris would be a perfect replacement for Derrick Favors as starting Power Forward for the Utah Jazz. He’s an adequate rebounder, but the guy can flat-out score. We have a large enough sample size to know that he is an efficient 20-point per game scorer. And he’s just now coming into his prime. He’d make a perfect 1-2 punch with Donovan.

2-Danilo Gallinari

Gallinari turns 31 in August, but his game will likely age well because he is an elite shooter that doesn’t rely on athleticism. He is a lights out shooter from all distances (43.3% from three and 90%+ from the line) and would address a couple of the Jazz’s biggest needs. While Gallinari is not a shot blocker and won’t pick up many steals for you, he is a position defender and is adequate. Playing next to Gobert may help, but he does create a potential line-up issue of playing both Gobert and Gallinari against a perimeter-oriented team where one or both would have to defend on the perimeter. There are almost always trade-offs.

3-Bobby Portis

Would the Jazz pursue a stretch four like Bobby Portis? (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Portis is coming off his rookie contract and will likely get a decent raise, but how much will he be worth on the open market? He’s a 6’11” power forward with a smooth shooting stroke (remember when he hit six threes on his way to 28 points against the Jazz). He punched out Mirotic in Bulls practice so there are some potential character red flags, but I like that he competes. He also shot 39 percent from three and averaged 14 points per game this season.

Possible Added Shooting and Depth

Seth Curry

Curry will be sought after as a shooter, but what will the market be for him? The Jazz sure could use his outside shooting (45 percent from three on 3.4 attempts per game). While he is not as quick as his brother, he is crafty and will make the defense respect him. He could really help open up driving lanes for Donovan.

Troy Daniels

If you look at Free-Agent shooters, this guy is near the top of my list. He’s 28 in July and is a 40 percent career three-point shooter. He is under-utilized by the Suns and his minutes got squeezed this season, playing less than 15 minutes per game. He will likely be looking for a bigger role and backing up Donovan Mitchell at the 2 and playing along side him when Donovan shifts to the point, might be attractive to him.

Andrew Bogut

The guy still has a little left in his tank and could be a good defensive-minded back-up to Rudy as a screen setter, rim protector, and rebounder. I always hoped he’d finish his career with the Jazz. His veteran leadership and championship experience would go a long way to help the Jazz take the next step.

Nerlens Noel

Turned out to be a flop as a Top 3 pick, but he could be a great option as a cheap, defensive-minded back-up Center if Bogut isn’t available. averaged 5 points and 4 boards while blocking 1.2 shots per game with OKC in just under 14 minutes per game. I’m guessing he will opt-out of his $1.9M player option if he feels like he can make more (which I think he could).

Anthony Tolliver

Just finished a one-year deal with the Timberwolves and the almost 34-year old should be a cheap back-up option at the four. Still at 34 he should be able to provide quality bench minutes, rebounding and most importantly, spacing. The guy is a 37.7 percent three-point shooter.

Tomas Satoransky

He’s not flashy and his numbers aren’t eye-popping, but the guy can ball. When Wall went down Satoransky filled in admirably with solid all-around play. Not sure how much Washington will be willing to play for this combo guard, because of Wall’s anticipated return and a mini-rebuild taking place, but the Jazz should keep him on its radar. He’s a good ball handler and passer and a 40 percent three-point shooter.

Conservative Option with Relatively Minor Changes

  • 1-Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, Grayson Allen
  • 2-Donovan Mitchell, Troy Daniels, Grayson Allen
  • 3-Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, Jae Crowder
  • 4-Bobby Portis, Jae Crowder, Georges Niang
  • 5-Rudy Gobert, Bobby Portis, Ekpe Udoh

This lineup brings Rubio back, but replaces D-Fave with a better shooter, Bobby Portis in the starting line-up. The bench is strengthened by adding shooting in Troy Daniels, but the rest of the core remains the same.

A Realistic Option with Upgrades

  • 1-Pat Beverly, Donovan Mitchell, Dante Exum
  • 2-Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale, Grayson Allen
  • 3-Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, Jae Crowder
  • 4-Tobias Harris, Jae Crowder, Georges Niang
  • 5-Rudy Gobert, Andrew Bogut, Ekpe Udoh

The lineup would address the Utah Jazz’s two biggest positional needs, Point Guard and Power Forward. Beverly and Harris serve as upgrades in shooting, preserves the defensive identity of the team, but also adds an efficient scorer to help Donovan.

The Spend Money Option (Keep and Add)

  • 1-Donovan Mitchell, Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum
  • 2-Malcom Brogdon, Donovan Mitchell, Grayson Allen
  • 3-Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, Jae Crowder
  • 4-Tobias Harris, Jae Crowder, Derrick Favors
  • 5-Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Ekpe Udoh

This lineup retains Rubio and Favors, but turns them both into back-ups, giving the Utah Jazz added depth. That depth would preserve chemistry, but would some at a cost. At the same time, the Jazz add Tobias Harris and Malcom Brodgon and turn the point guard reins over to Donovan. This is a much better shooting team and with this depth could match up with any body. Huge question marks: would Rubio and D-Fave happily move to the bench and would the Jazz spend the kind of money it would take to add these pieces?

Another Spend Money Option (Replace)

  • 1-Kemba Walker, Seth Curry, Donovan Mitchell
  • 2-Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale,
  • 3-Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, Kyle Korver
  • 4-Danilo Gallinari, Jae Crowder
  • 5-Rudy Gobert, Nerlens Noel, Ekpe Udoh

This is the most dramatic option. The Utah Jazz would let Rubio, Favors, Exum, and Neto go in order to sign Kemba to a max deal and bring in Gallinari, Curry, and Noel. This team would likely have much more firepower, but would lose some ground on the defensive side of the ball with Gallinari.

What would you like to see the Utah Jazz do? Is now the time to spend money and build a team that can contend next season? Or do we play it conservative, keep the core in place with cap flexibility and continue to allow Donovan to develop another year before making a big push? Would you keep Rubio? Favors? Neither? Both? What free-agents are willing to come to Utah? With Donovan and Rudy, are the Utah Jazz an attractive landing spot for free-agents? So many questions.

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