Utah Jazz: Franchise's future rests squarely on the shoulders of its young Core Four

Published: Tuesday, May 7 2013 8:50 p.m. MDT

Alec Burks

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — General manager Dennis Lindsey believes there are a number of NBA teams who'd want to "trade spots" with the Utah Jazz this offseason.

And, no, not because they've had early summer vacations in the Beehive State in two of the past three years. In this business, that's a bad thing.

Rather, Lindsey has a list of reasons why the Jazz are in a prime position for a bright future, and he's willing to rattle it off at a moment's notice.

"We have a great story to tell about the history of the organization," he said. "I think we have plenty of roster spots and a lot of salary cap to pay good players. I think we have two good draft picks that I'm very optimistic that we'll get some good, at minimum, role players that fit our culture."

And that just scratches the surface.

Though upset about Utah missing the playoffs, Lindsey continued to hit a variety of positive talking points that shed a positive light on a negative situation, considering his end-of-season interview took place in April instead of June.

The Jazz have only had two losing records in the past 30 seasons.

Utah has a strong home-court advantage thanks to "an arena that's passionate."

The organization has "high standards and high expectations."

The team also owns Bird Rights to multiple veteran free agents (Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap), which gives the Jazz advantages over other teams in signing them or making sign-and-trade deals.

Then there is the piece(s) de resistance.

The biggest reason(s) for an optimistic outlook.

The youthful and dynamic combination of tantalizing talent that has become known as the Core Four: Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks.

You know, the guys fans grumbled about not seeing enough of in recent seasons.

Brad Rock talks on 1320AM KFAN about the Jazz's youth movement and the team's hopes of getting back into contention. You can listen to the entire interview here

Lindsey referred to that group, along with former Slam Dunk champion Jeremy Evans, as being "young players that can develop into core-level players we want to build around."

Yes, the Jazz are fully aware that they missed out on the postseason party for the fifth time in the past decade.

"We fell short of one of our goals," Lindsey admitted.

But the narrative — that yet told "great story" of the franchise's history — is one that offers hope for an exciting and win-filled future.

Maybe even a season with a happy ending in June.

"We have a lot of options — whether it's to be bold right now if that opportunity presents itself or to be really strategic and patient," Lindsey said. "So, we're real fortunate."

Lindsey has his work cut out for him over the next couple of months to help turn that optimism into realism.

Those five aforementioned players are the only guys with guaranteed roster spots for next season. It's likely that small forward Marvin Williams will take the $7.5 million player option for the final year of his deal, and it's possible Kevin Murphy will be back for another go.

Other than that, Utah has between six and nine roster spots to fill before training camp rolls around in October.

Utah has three picks in the upcoming draft — its own lottery selection (likely No. 14), the No. 21 pick from Golden State to finalize the Deron Williams deal, and a No. 46 choice in the second round.

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