I wrote a piece on Monday detailing which free agents I think the Utah Jazz should keep. In the end, I decided that letting Paul Millsap and Earl Watson walk (or at least, not signing them next year) would be the best moves for the Jazz going forward. Regardless of whether or not you’re in agreement with my point, the fact remains that Utah will have a couple open roster spots next season, and this is one of many trade ideas I have. Coincidentally, most of them revolve around Paul Millsap.
Dan Lewis (who recently got a gig with KSL.com – congratulate him guys!) wrote a piece earlier this week about different trades the Jazz could do with Millsap. This was in regards to Sam Amico’s incredibly trustworthy leak that Milwaukee, Denver, and Brooklyn all had interest in the Jazz’s veteran power forward. Whether or not those teams really are interested in Millsap doesn’t matter – however, the fact remains that the Jazz are going to have to move at least one of their bigs before next season. Re-signing both is impractical from a financial standpoint, as well as a developmental one, because both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are quickly showing the skills necessary to take over in Utah in the coming year.
With that in mind, here’s my proposed Millsap trade.
The most glaring need right now for the Jazz is a go-to guard who can create a shot and demand a defense’s attention regardless of his where he’s at on the court. Jamaal Tinsley has proven himself a very capable, savvy guard (take a sec to read Clint Peterson’s article about him here) that can run the new version of the flex offense the way head coach Tyrone Corbin wants it run. Mo Williams showed himself to be equally capable, but marginally more offensive-minded than Tinsley, before his injury. Earl Watson, in his limited backup minutes, has been Earl Watson – a non-factor offensively, but a tough and gritty guy in every other aspect of the game. However, none of those three guards has the X-factor that forces a defense to commit to them. While Williams can catch fire at times, and nail game-winning three’s, he’s been inconsistent this season. The 2 spot has seen equally solid, but not stellar play. Randy Foye has caught fire as of late, but he lacks the ability to create his own shot. While he does make more cuts towards the basket than previous sharpshooter Kyle Korver, Foye won’t draw quite the defensive attention that a big play making guard can. For that spot I nominate Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors.
Trading Millsap for Lowry straight up is a good deal for a couple of reasons. One, the Jazz would only pay Lowry what’s left on his $5.75 million 2012-13 salary. Two, Lowry’s contract for next season, a mere $$6.21 million, isn’t guaranteed. I don’t think I can stress how much I like this deal. Millsap is probably going to leave Utah after this season is over – he already declined Utah’s extension offer earlier this season and plans on testing free agency. That means Utah would be smart to trade him so they can at least get something out of him, instead of getting “LeBron’ed”. Since Lowry’s deal for the 2013-14 season isn’t guaranteed, this means that if his play isn’t at the level the Jazz front office likes, they can let him go. There’s a risk in Lowry coming to Utah and under-performing but being able to get rid of his contract after the season is over is really a blessing.
This season, Lowry is averaging 14.1 PPG and 5.8 APG. Lowry has the edge in points against Mo Williams (but he’s at a disadvantage having been sidelined for a big portion of this season), as Williams averages 12.9 PPG. However, Williams dishes the rock better, averaging 6.7 dimes a game.
I compare Lowry to Williams because I believe if Lowry did end up in Utah, he’d probably take over Williams’ spot in the lineup – that of the point guard who can play the two as well. I think with Lowry, you get a more athletic and younger version of Williams. Lowry has that X-factor to create plays and demand a defense’s attention.
Take a look at some of these highlights if you don’t believe me.
He knocks down 42% of his jumpers, but only 33.8% of his three point shots. However, as you can see from that highlights video, he has a knack for getting to the rim and making a shot. When he’s on the court, teams are going to base their defensive plan around him. If he was here in Utah, imagine the havoc a Lowry, Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams, Derrick Favors, and Al Jefferson lineup could wreak. Each one of those guys has an ability to create their own shot, and each one is a pretty good passer.
Maybe this trade is unrealistic. Maybe Toronto doesn’t feel like parting with Lowry. Certainly, the Jazz front office isn’t going to see this post, realize my wisdom, and pull the trigger on this trade. It’s just conjecture, a fantasy – but coming up with trades like this is just one of the many things that makes being a sports fan so much fun.
So what do you guys think? Am I being foolish in thinking Millsap should be the man to go? Or is it worth giving him up for Kyle Lowry? Let me hear your thoughts.
One interesting note, the following guys are all free agents after this season. I don’t think any of them would make a dramatic impact, but it would be fun to see any of these guys in a Jazz uniform next year: Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, Kevin Martin, JJ Redick, and Nick Young.