Commentary: Utah Jazz G.M. Dennis Lindsey's moves reflect Captain Jack Sparrow's mantra
Photo courtesy Disney Corp.
Be it in a rowdy pub or on a washed-up deck, Captain Jack Sparrow has a manta he likes to exchange with loyal friend Joshamee Gibbs.
“Take what you can,” says one. “Give nothing back,” says the other.
This summer, Utah Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey and team brass can appreciate that averment from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" characters — more or less.
Lindsey only gave up little-used rookie Kevin Murphy, trade exemptions and $24 million in cap relief to Golden State for center Andris Biedrins and wings Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush, along with unprotected first-round picks in 2014 and 2017, two second-round picks, and an undisclosed amount of cash. The trade has been applauded by many commentators, including Danny Hansen on utahjazz360.com for, among other things, serving youth, “meeting the salary floor” and not letting cap space burn in their pocket.
In the NBA Draft, Lindsey arranged for Minnesota to draft Trey Burke ninth overall in exchange for Utah’s 14th and 21st selections. Then the first-year general manager only gave up the Jazz’s 46th pick and cash to Denver for French center Rudy Gobert, the 27th pick. Then Lindsey capped what many insiders consider an unthinkable draft night by getting Atlanta to select Brazilian guard Raul Neto at No. 47 in exchange for the Brooklyn Nets' 2015 second round choice.
Fan Laura Thompson opined for Salt City Hoops that she was thrilled by the draft night since it shows that “ownership is serious about building (read: funding) a championship-caliber team” and that “management is strategic, thorough and capable of building a championship-caliber team.”
Probably. On any account, the Jazz now have six first-round draft picks in the next four years, the latter end of that span when the new-look team should be fully developed and in championship-contending mode.
Combined with the departure of Al Jefferson (Charlotte) and Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll (Atlanta), it’s fundamentally transformed the team and made it increasingly difficult to see many veterans from last season’s roster return to Salt Lake City.
Lindsey has done it in less than a year with the franchise — and his bargaining will prove that he gave up very little along the way, if that isn’t already apparent.
In the Golden State trade, the contracts of all three former Warriors will expire next season (and Biedrins and Jefferson will make $9 million and $11 million this year, respectively). It will leave the Jazz flexibility to sign players in next year's loaded free agency market as well as work out extensions with young stars Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, who are joined by Enes Kanter and Alec Burks as the new collective face of the franchise.
Fans shouldn’t worry about the young leaders’ growth being stunted next season in being thrown to the wolves too relentlessly. Lindsey has that covered in offering Biedrins and Jefferson as veteran mentors (admittedly, if the two will happily take the role). And Rush is the roll-the-dice player who will either never successfully return from an ACL injury or successfully resurrect his career, at least starting as a stellar backup to Hayward or change-of-pace reserve after Burks. As a tremendous 3-point shooter (41.3 career percentage), he and Jefferson (37.1 percent) crowd out Randy Foye, even though the seven-year veteran shattered Mehmet Okur’s Jazz single-season 3-point record, making 41 percent of his bombs along the way.
It’s a small price Lindsey paid to become a player next summer, when free agents like Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Kyle Lowry and Eric Bledsoe will be available. (So will LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Paul George and Chris Bosh, but they were not mentioned for the sake of realism.)
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