The Utah Jazz exceeded expectations in 2012, but there's plenty of room for improvement. A season-ending sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs made that clear. Fortunately, the Jazz have some options, including a trade exception, a slim chance at another lottery pick in the draft, and most importantly, salary cap space. Under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, the NBA's soft salary cap will check in at about $58 million. Currently, the Jazz have about $50 million on the books for next season. (That doesn't include their own free agents: Josh Howard, C.J. Miles, Jamaal Tinsley, Jeremy Evans, and Blake Ahearn.) Traditionally, the Jazz haven't made much of a splash in free agency. It's hard to lure big names to the Beehive State, even with extra cash. (Sorry, Jazz fans -- players like Ray Allen and Jason Terry are not walking through that door.) That being said, with money to throw around, the Jazz could make a play for a few key pieces. Here are a few players on the market that might fit the Jazz's needs. Update: We've extended this list to 20 players, in no particular order. Thanks to Jazz fans and DesNews readers @AllThatAmar and @Peter_J_Novak on Twitter, among others, for the suggestions. (Note: Unrestricted free agents can be signed by any team. Restricted free agents must allow a seven-day period for their current teams to match an offer.)
Previous salary: $2.1 million
Dragic has been playing behind Kyle Lowry in Houston, but when Lowry and Kevin Martin picked up injuries, Dragic filled in admirably. He averaged 11.7 points and 5.3 assists per game for the season, but as a starter, those averages rose to 18 points and 8.4 assists. Given the Jazz's inconsistent point-guard play in 2012, Dragic could push Devin Harris for the starting job immediately.
Previous salary: $2.5 million
Ilyasova had a breakout year, averaging 13 points and 8.8 rebounds in 28 minutes per game. He got even more playing time when Bucks big man Andrew Bogut (now with the Warriors) went down with an injury. The Jazz already have a logjam at the power forward position, but Ilyasova can play small forward as well, and if the Jazz move one of their bigs, he would pair with Derrick Favors nicely.
Previous salary: $2.2 million
Jazz fans are probably familiar with Batum; he seemed to have a penchant for torching the Jazz D with three-pointers this past season. And if the playoffs showed us anything, it's that the Jazz need outside shooters. Batum's a versatile player who could fill a number of gaps if C.J. Miles and Josh Howard move on. Chances are, though, that Portland would match any offer for the young swingman.
Previous salary: $2.95 million
Rush is a career 41 percent three-point shooter, and last season he pushed that number to 45 percent. If outside shooting is the Jazz's biggest need, Rush can provide it in spades. He's not a bad rebounder for a guard, either, at 3.9 per game. He's a restricted free agent, so Golden State might choose to match for him, but they already have Dorell Wright and rookie gunner Klay Thompson. So he might be ripe for the picking.
Previous salary: $0.8 million
The 6-foot-10 Novak has bounced around the league with five different teams, but he came into his own in New York, providing scoring punch and three-point shooting. He averaged 8.8 points and 47 percent from beyond the arc in 19 minutes per game. He doesn't do much else to fill up the stat sheet, but he could provide instant offense and spread the floor, giving the Jazz big men room to work inside.
Previous salary: $2.2 million
Lee does a lot of things fairly well. He's a decent scorer, shoots over 40 percent on three-pointers, averages 1.2 steals a game, and plays solid man-to-man defense. He's stuck behind Kevin Martin (when he's healthy) in Houston, so Lee might prefer a change of scenery and a starting job if he can get one. Houston would probably be inclined to match, though.
Previous salary: $3.4 million
A career 39 percent three-point shooter, Belinelli is another instant-offense type who played big minutes for a Hornets team left in shambles after the Chris Paul trade. With a healthy Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza in front of him now, Belinelli might look for more minutes elsewhere. But the Hornets have a ton of cap space themselves.
Previous salary: $3.5 million
If the Bucks decide to give Ilyasova a big payday, Delfino wouldn't be a bad consolation prize. He rebounds well for a small forward, nabs 1.6 steals per game, and is a fair three-point shooter. He could provide depth if Josh Howard and C.J. Miles depart.
Previous salary: $8.5 million
Mo Williams was originally drafted by the Jazz in 2003, but Utah released him at the end of his rookie season. Since then, he has found success as a scorer and shooter in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Los Angeles. He could choose to exercise his player option and extend his contract with the Clippers for another year, but rumors say he is unhappy with his role behind Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups and will opt out. If he does — and if he's willing to come back to Utah — his 13 points a game and 39 percent shooting from long range could be just what the Jazz need.
Previous salary: $11.7 million
Okay. Let's not kid ourselves. This one probably ain't happening. But we can dream, can't we? Jazz fans have always had a soft spot for Nash, the 38-year-old who took the pass-first point-guard torch from John Stockton and ended up an MVP. And the Suns have made it clear that they won't bring Nash back to the desert. He'll probably go to a contending team with a chance at a championship. But unlikely though it may be, if the Jazz could land Nash, it would be a major coup.
Previous salary: $3.0 million
Bayless made his mark with Portland as a scoring combo guard, and last year in Toronto he tallied 11.4 points and 3.8 assists per game while shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc. He battled injuries through most of the season, so he might be a risky proposition, but he's certainly got talent.
Previous salary: $2.1 million
Fernandez has struggled a bit in Denver, especially in the Nuggets' first-round playoff series with the Lakers. But if he can return to the form of his rookie year in Portland, when he scored 10.4 points a game on 39 percent three-point shooting, he could be a valuable bench asset.
Previous salary: $7.8 million
Could the former Utah Utes star end his career in a Jazz uniform? He's shown he can still perform in a backup role in Denver, averaging 9.7 points and 6.7 assists in 28 minutes per game. But his high price tag and poor outside shooting might make him a liability. The Jazz would have to consider if Miller would bring anything to the table that Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson don't.
Previous salary: $3.5 million
Brown is an extremely athletic wing scorer who doesn't excel in any one area but plays with a ton of energy. He only shot 36 percent on three-pointers last year, but he's a streaky player who could get hot at any time. He's also one of the most explosive dunkers in the league. If the Jazz fail to re-sign Jeremy Evans, Brown could become their new designated alley-oop target.
Previous salary: $0.7 million
Fields was a surprise in his rookie season for the Knicks, tallying 9.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game along with 39 percent three-point shooting. But he hit his "sophomore slump" hard and his shooting percentages plummeted. He bounced back a bit in the latter part of the season, and if he can learn better shot selection, he could be a cheap, high-value prospect. The Knicks will have a chance to match, but they will struggle to pay Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak and Fields all at once.
Previous salary: $2.0 million
Brooks spent last season in China due to the NBA lockout, but the Suns still own his restricted rights and will be able to match any offer another team makes. His biggest assets are his speed and energy, as he showcased in his breakout season with Houston in 2010 when he averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists per game. He's not a prototypical pass-first point guard, but his quickness and dribble penetration can create looks for others.
Previous salary: $3.2 million
Like the rest of the Bobcats, Augustin had a rough year. But he still managed to put up 11.1 points and 6.4 assists per game. If he's willing to be a backup (or fight for the starting job) and can regain his shooting stroke from his first two seasons in Charlotte, he could be another offensive weapon with range for a Jazz team desperately seeking outside help.
Previous salary: $4.0 million
Jazz fans remember Farmar from his time with the Lakers; it seems like he always stepped up with a big three-pointer when L.A. needed one in their playoff battles with Utah. His current status is up in the air, though, thanks to former Jazzman and current Brooklyn (not New Jersey) Nets teammate Deron Williams. If Williams goes, Farmar will exercise his option and take a starting job with Brooklyn. If D-Will stays in the Big Apple, Farmar could be on the move.
Previous salary: $1.5 million
Hill shone in San Antonio as a bench scorer and outside shooting threat. But he's had to battle Darren Collison and Paul George for minutes in Indiana, along with Leandro Barbosa. Still, he's playing (and shooting) well in this year's playoffs, so he might be a prize pickup. Indiana could choose to match offers for him, though.
Would Kirilenko come back to Utah? He played last year in his native Russia (and won that league's MVP award), and while recent rumors have linked him to the Nets and their Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov, AK-47 has denied them, saying he's keeping his options open. Given the uneven production the Jazz got from the small forward position in 2012, Kirilenko's return could be a huge boost...for the right price. But he's much more likely to stay at home.