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Utah Jazz: Jefferson, Millsap staying put as NBA trade deadline passes with Jazz saying 'no deal'

Published: Thursday, Sept. 3 2015 7:43 a.m. MDT

Despite numerous rumors to the contrary, Jazz big men Al Jefferson (25) and Paul Millsap are staying in Utah through the end of this season. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Despite numerous rumors to the contrary, Jazz big men Al Jefferson (25) and Paul Millsap are staying in Utah through the end of this season. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz could have participated in the wheeling and dealing that took place before Thursday afternoon's trade deadline.

Without hinting about any details of who, what and why, general manager Dennis Lindsey said the Jazz had multiple options.

After weighing various factors and offers, executives around the league received the same answer from Utah's front office.

"No."

That came as a relief to coach Tyrone Corbin and his players, who wanted to keep this particular Jazz band together for at least the rest of this season, no doubt.

The lack of player movement, however, sent a wave of disappointment throughout Jazzland for fans hoping the organization would use some of its much-discussed assets and "versatility" to solidify the Jazz's future.

Utah's Al Jefferson grabs a defensive rebound and looks up court as the Jazz and the Bulls play Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 at Energy Solutions arena. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Utah's Al Jefferson grabs a defensive rebound and looks up court as the Jazz and the Bulls play Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 at Energy Solutions arena. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

But Lindsey reiterated that the Jazz weren't about to make a trade just to quench a thirst for a trade.

"We're not here to win a press conference," Lindsey said.

At the same time, the Jazz GM knows the team isn't ready to win a championship yet, either.

"We're competitive, but we're not a contender," he said. "We're not only competitive, but we're flexible. We have good guys."

That doesn't include a clear-cut point guard of the future. But Utah still has its full frontcourt, which many people thought might be less loaded after this trade period passed.

Despite rumors and reports of center Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap finding new homes, allowing for more minutes for young bigs Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, the Jazz will ride out the rest of the season with that foursome.

Spur's Tiago Splitter is blocked by Utah's Al Jefferson, left, and Paul Millsap as the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs play NBA basketball Monday, April 9, 2012, in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Spur's Tiago Splitter is blocked by Utah's Al Jefferson, left, and Paul Millsap as the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs play NBA basketball Monday, April 9, 2012, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Jefferson and Millsap, whom Lindsey said were having "All-Star-caliber seasons," will become free agents this summer along with seven (possibly eight) of their current teammates.

"We decided the incumbent position was the strongest now and going forward," Lindsey said. "We'll see if we're right or wrong."

While admitting that an error in judgment is a possibility, Lindsey was firm in his position that a "speed-up development" mentality is not a Jazz standard. The former San Antonio assistant general manager referenced All-Star point guard Tony Parker's steady progression with the Spurs as an example that the Jazz aren't in a rush to throw young players into lead roles too soon.

The Jazz believed they were "negotiating from a position of strength," Lindsey added. The rookie GM added that he didn't feel pressure to make immediate moves because he "didn't inherit a mess." Utah is 31-24 and has won 12 of 17 games with a roster chock full of young talent and experienced veterans.

Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) celebrates the jazz win during NBA action in Salt Lake City  Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013.  The Jazz won 114-110 in overtime.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) celebrates the jazz win during NBA action in Salt Lake City Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. The Jazz won 114-110 in overtime. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

The Jazz's current success, however, wasn't a major factor in Utah's decision-making process.

"It was a positive," Lindsey admitted. "There were probably higher goals that we needed to weigh."

Asked if the Jazz were a popular team on Deadline Day, Lindsey replied: "Very."

But the Jazz were committed to being "strategic" for the future, "disciplined" in regards to the new and more restrictive Collective Bargaining Agreement and the flexibility threshold the team has, and "value-oriented" while evaluating what acquisitions to pick up, if any.

Though Lindsey said the organization was "very strong in pursuing" positive transactions, nothing enticed them enough to bite.

"We really didn't even have any tough decisions," Lindsey said. "… When we added it up, there wasn't anything that was better than what we had."

At various points, Jefferson was rumored to be headed to San Antonio, while Millsap's name was attached to reports about deals from the Los Angeles Clippers to the New Jersey Nets, and a few teams in between.

Jazz forward Paul Millsap (24) gets ready to inbound the ball during the first half of the NBA basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs at Energy Solutions Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. (Ben Brewer, Deseret News) Jazz forward Paul Millsap (24) gets ready to inbound the ball during the first half of the NBA basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs at Energy Solutions Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. (Ben Brewer, Deseret News)

"A lot of stuff that was out there was completely inaccurate," Lindsey said without giving specifics.

The lack of deals means this offseason will be a wild one for the Jazz. Only five players have guaranteed contracts past this year — Favors, Kanter, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Jeremy Evans — and their combined salaries only amount to $26 million.

Veteran small forward Marvin Williams has a player option for $7.5 million, but if he doesn't exercise that, Utah would have 10 current players off the books this summer.

It isn't out of the question that the Jazz will pursue Millsap, Jefferson or both this offseason.

"We have a lot of players that want to be back," Lindsey said.

One player won't be back, for sure.

Though many believed he'd be moved, exiled Jazz guard Raja Bell was not moved as his camp expected.

Jazz forward Paul Millsap (24) reacts to a foul call during the first half of the NBA basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the Orlando Magic at Energy Solutions Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. (Ben Brewer, Deseret News) Jazz forward Paul Millsap (24) reacts to a foul call during the first half of the NBA basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the Orlando Magic at Energy Solutions Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. (Ben Brewer, Deseret News)

Bell's agent, Herb Rudoy, told the Deseret News he has "no idea" what the Jazz will do with the 36-year-old Bell, who could be waived or receive a buyout of a portion of his $3.5 million contract.

Lindsey declined to comment on the Jazz's plans for Bell.

The Jazz GM also compared getting Hayward back from injury and Mo Williams' impending return as successful "trade acquisitions."

"Early returns on that were good," Lindsey said regarding Hayward's 17-point game in Tuesday's 115-101 win over Golden State, his first back after a 10-game absence.

Lindsey added that Williams has been "diligent" in his rehab and said the point guard, who's returned to practice, "seems to be on track or ahead of track to come back." A timetable was not given, though.

Lindsey wouldn't give details on how close the Jazz came to making a deal, but he said Utah brass stayed up late Wednesday game-planning. The father of four was even able to enjoy a quick breakfast with his 6-year-old daughter — with his phone nearby — before rejoining the group on Thursday morning for the final deadline stretch.

Because a trade wasn't on the morning menu, the Jazz executives will have many more of those strategy sessions and more decisions to make in the next few months before the June draft and July's free-agency period.

Lindsey looks forward to it. He's excited to try to bring those contender-building pieces to Utah.

"If you're running from work," he said, "you've chosen the wrong business."

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