Barring any last-minute whirlwind deals, the NBA's trade deadline will come and go with no changes whatsoever for the Utah Jazz.
"We don't anticipate any changes. We've talked to every team in the league and it doesn't appear anything is going to happen," said Jazz Director of Player Personnel Scott Layden on Tuesday.Thursday at 7 p.m. (MST) is the final trade deadline. After that, all NBA team rosters are set for the rest of the season. Trades can be made after the deadline, but players involved aren't eligible for the playoffs.
That this week's deadline would be uneventful for the Jazz is hardly a surprise. The Jazz have rarely made February moves. The last February trade was in 1986 when they obtained Mark Iavaroni and Jeff Cook from San Antonio in exchange for Jeff Wilkins. Prior to that, one must look back to 1983 when they traded Danny Schayes to Denver for Rich Kelley and cash.
Considering the Jazz's impressive 34-17 record this year and their success in recent years, they proceed with caution. "It's tough for certain teams to trade at this time," Layden continued. "When things are going well, you've got to be careful not to disrupt what you've got going. I think the best time to trade is just before the draft."
Layden made good on his theory last June when the Jazz obtained guard Jeff Malone in a three-way deal with Sacramento and Washington.
If there were to be a trade, odds are that it would involve the Jazz bench. Coaches have said publicly that they are happy with the base of players, but would like to strengthen the reserve. "Mostly, we hope to strengthen the bench. I call around the league and we're always trying to improve. We never want to sit still. But the area we can help ourselves in is with our bench," said Layden.
Trading for new players becomes more difficult every year, Layden says. Large contracts and the salary cap complicate matters. Several NBA teams would like to trade for players but are already at the salary cap. In addition, teams generally put a higher value on their own player than does the opposition.
"You get attached to the players, guys who have done so much for the organization, that it's probably hard to look at their value objectively. People make offers for them that you think are ludicrous."
Occasionally a big deal will go through. Probably the biggest of this February was last week's Dale Ellis-Ricky Pierce swap between Seattle and Milwaukee. But for every such trade, there are dozens that never materialize. Layden says he stays in constant contact with every team in the league.
"A lot of times my closing comment to another team is to say, `Hey, if you ever decide to do something with so-and-so, keep us in mind.' Then sometimes when the time comes, they'll remember. That's what triggers the deal and that's why deals come together quickly."
The Jazz continue their schedule with a Friday game at Golden State.