Utah Jazz: 'Best hand for our rebuild was to stand pat,' GM Dennis Lindsey says
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
PORTLAND, Ore. — The NBA’s trade deadline has come and gone and — for better, worse or somewhere in between — the Utah Jazz still have the same roster.
While a flurry of trades took place elsewhere, including one that sent former University of Utah star Andre Miller to Washington, the Jazz did not make a deal before the 1 p.m. MST cutoff.
"There wasn’t a deal that was compelling enough to really alter our direction that we chartered this summer," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said.
That's not to say the Jazz weren't active in exploring deals. Utah was willing to listen to offers for almost everybody on the roster — and there were varying levels of interest with Jazz players as Lindsey and Kevin O'Connor, executive vice president of basketball operations, did the rounds in bouncing ideas back and forth with other NBA decision-makers.
But nothing came to fruition in the hectic moments before the deadline, as teams hoped for more than the Jazz were willing to let go.
Playing out the season with the same group is perfectly fine for Utah's management, which looks forward to this summer's draft and to the upcoming offseason as this "championship-caliber" rebuilding process continues.
"Kevin and myself and the (front-office) group looked at many different alternatives," Lindsey said. "For present and future purposes, we felt like the best hand for our rebuild was to stand pat, to keep the players that we have, to develop the young players, to keep our draft-asset base intact, and to keep our flexibility in place going into the offseason."
In other words, the Jazz are happy to hang on to their coveted 2014 lottery pick and to keep the Warriors' unprotected first-round selection, possibly also in the lottery, while playing out the season with the group as is.
Interestingly, no first-round picks were traded Thursday, making it all the clearer why Utah was eager to engage in a deal with Golden State last summer to acquire the combined $24 million in expiring contracts of Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush while picking up two unprotected first-round picks, three second-round selections and cash.
There was plenty of speculation that the Jazz might try to work out a trade or two to get assets out of the expiring contracts on the roster. Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Rush and Biedrins are all in the final year of their deals, as is recently acquired Malcolm Thomas.
Utah will head into next offseason with only six players with guaranteed contracts: Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks (both can sign extensions), Trey Burke, Jeremy Evans and Rudy Gobert.
Shooting guard Gordon Hayward will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Jazz can match any other team’s offer. Utah also has options on John Lucas III, Diante Garrett and Ian Clark.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin's contract also expires at the end of the 2013-14 campaign.
Thursday's inactivity sets up what will be an interesting offseason for the Jazz, who were active in multiple trades, including three on draft night, last summer after committing to delve into rebuild mode.
Williams spoke highly of the young group the Jazz will have back.
“I think if you take the young core that they have now, if you give those guys one or two more years, I definitely think they’ll be a contender,” Williams said. “They’ve got a lot of talent. The biggest thing that's hampering us right now is our youth. You give these guys a little bit more experience, I think the five, six guys they’ve got as a core will be a really good team in the future.”
The Jazz’s starting rookie point guard agrees.
“Absolutely. I feel like we’re playing together at a high level right now,” Burke said. “There’s little areas we can continue to improve in. I think definitely that we’re going in the right direction.”
Williams will be a free agent this offseason, but the 27-year-old is hoping to stick around with the younger Jazz cornerstones.
“I think I’ve made it very clear that I enjoy playing here. I’ve loved every second that I’ve been in Salt Lake,” Williams said at Thursday’s practice, which took place before the deadline. “But I do understand the business of the league and sometimes trades do happen. Expiring contracts do get moved a lot during the trade deadline so I understand that as well.”
Williams added that if he wasn’t traded that, “I’ll be really excited about that.”
Corbin wasn't available for comment after the deadline passed, but he was looking forward to leaping that hurdle.
"I'm sure the guys (were) thinking about it," he said. "This is a tough time until about 2 o'clock when the deadline's over. You don't know what's going to happen."
Now they'll have to stay tuned until next offseason to find out.
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