The Utah Jazz are now 31-24, with 27 games to go – 14 at home, 13 on the road. They’re three games behind the Denver Nuggets for the #5 seed in the playoff race. They’ve won 7 of their last 10 games, 11 of their last 16. They just got Gordon Hayward back, and Mo Williams is coming to practice. There’s a case to be made that the Jazz don’t need to make any trades.
While we can argue about the starting lineup and minutes-distribution, the bottom line is they’re winning, and Tyrone Corbin’s job is to win.
The Jazz are operating from a position of strength on two fronts. When it comes to the trade deadline, there’s no pressure to make a move. The Jazz can turn down any offer that comes their way and hold out for something really good. And if a really good deal doesn’t materialize? Nothing wrong with a playoff team standing pat.
Then comes the summer. The only guys who’ll be on the roster are Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Marvin Williams, Jeremy Evans and two first-round draft picks. This will help them negotiate with their free agents from a position of strength.
Raja Bell will be gone with a “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson will be gone with a “thank you so much, and I’m sorry Father Time caught up to you.” Wouldn’t surprise me if one of those two is brought on as an assistant coach.
They’ll try to re-sign DeMarre Carroll for cheap and probably do a multi-year deal like they did with Jeremy Evans. They’d be nuts not to keep him, but if they don’t, hey, they have Gord and Marv to take the SF minutes. I’d offer a 3-year, $8 million deal and hope 29 other teams don’t realize how good DMC can be.
They will most likely try to re-sign Mo Williams or Randy Foye but not both, and I’d lean toward Foye at this point. His 3-point shooting has been tremendous. His defense isn’t great, but I’d argue he shouldn’t be starting. He should be a sixth-man off-the-bench 3-point-assassin in the vein of Jason Terry. As for Mo Williams, we’ll have to see how he plays out the season. He’s a great teammate but he’s not a long-term solution.
The Jazz have a team option on Kevin Murphy. No idea if they’ll exercise it or not.
That brings us to Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Both men will be able to get at least $10 million a year on the open market. My hunch is Big Al’s offers will be higher, and the Jazz will do what they can to re-sign Millsap and make him a lifer. Millsap’s been with the Jazz longer than anyone else on the roster, and to keep him would bring a semblance of stability to a franchise that’s seen an uncharacteristically high amount of turnover
. Now if some outrageous offer is made in the $14 million a year range – which I can’t comprehend but stranger things have happened – then the Jazz would have no choice but to let him go.
The Jazz would still have plenty of cap space to then find that elusive starting point guard.
But for now, the goal is the playoffs. The Jazz will try to get as high a seed as they can, and you never know, the best player on their first-round opponent could get injured and the Jazz could actually exploit and advance further. Playoff experience is important, but experiencing playoff wins is more important.