Utah Jazz begin busy free agency period Sunday at 10:01 p.m. MDT
, Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Whatever NSA employee gets to listen in on Dennis Lindsey's cellphone tonight will have some interesting info beginning at 10:01 MDT.
That's when the NBA's 2013 free agency period officially begins, and teams are allowed to begin negotiating directly with players and their agents.
Though they drafted three players (for other teams) and traded for three others (for their team) on a wild draft-day adventure, the Jazz still have a handful of team vacancies to fill.
"We're a little incomplete as far as roster spots go," Lindsey, the Jazz's general manager, said. "So, we have some work to do."
Lots of work beginning tonight (July 1 Eastern time), continuing through July 8 when contracts can be signed, and clear through fall camp when the roster has to be finalized before opening night.
Coming into the offseason, the Jazz only had six players with guaranteed contracts for the 2013-14 season — Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Jeremy Evans and Marvin Williams (because he didn't exercise an early termination option).
Throw first-round picks and trade acquisitions Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert into the mix, and that brings Utah's roster up to eight.
Reserves Kevin Murphy and Jerel McNeal both have non-guaranteed contracts, and their roster spots aren't a certainty. Also, it appears likely that Brazilian point guard Raul Neto will return to his Spanish team for another year or two before trying to secure a roster spot in Utah.
With teams required to carry between 13-15 players, the Jazz will need to sign several more players before next fall to avoid being fined, as Lindsey jokingly pointed out.
The big question: Who will the Jazz pursue?
As currently constructed, the Jazz have intriguing young talent in all five positions, with Burke (20) at point guard, Burks (22 in July) at shooting guard, Hayward (23) at small forward, Favors (22 in July) at power forward and Kanter (21) at center.
"I think we have beginnings of a foundation," Lindsey said. "We're certainly excited about the guys we have under contract."
The Jazz GM, entering his first free agency period as the lead man in Utah after five years as the Spurs' assistant GM, said the organization would spend the weekend debating about how to complement that crew.
Should they throw Burke to the wolves like Portland did with NBA Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard? Or bring in a veteran playmaker to mentor him?
Should the Jazz throw big money at two of the most attractive unrestricted free agents who've happened to call Utah home for years or try to pull off sign-and-trade deals with bigs Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap?
Try to win now?
Or let the young guys play the majority of the minutes and develop regardless of the standings?
Make more bold moves or save flexibility for trades or next offseason when the draft is supposed to be loaded and a better free agent crop enters the market?
"The main thing for us, the fit has to be right for where we are in our development now," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said while talking about the team's need for more veteran leadership. "This group of guys is going to be special for us."
Even after signing Burke (around $2 million) and Gobert ($900,000ish), the Jazz will only have a team salary of about $28.6 million. That means Utah has a boatload of salary cap room to play with this summer. The Jazz will need to spend about $24 million just to get to the league minimum, which is expected to be in the neighborhood of $52.7 million (90 percent of the salary cap), according to ESPN reports.
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