SALT LAKE CITY — At one point during the draft, Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey was handling four phones at the same time while trying to work trades.
He might need a few more arms as he juggles phones during the NBA’s free-agency period, which begins Thursday at 10 p.m. MDT.
While the Jazz are unlikely to be a major player for the services of the most coveted free agent who’ll officially become available when the East Coast calendar flips to July 1 — that'd be Kevin Durant — Utah will be making a play for multiple athletes to fill holes.
With the impending acquisition of Pacers point guard George Hill — a transaction that can’t be signed off on until a July 1-6 moratorium lifts because of salary cap purposes — the Jazz have two main needs entering this free-agency period.
They need another wing to bolster the bench behind Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood, and another big to join the rotation with Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert and Trey Lyles.
The Jazz are looking for three key things in the players they’ll either attempt to sign or trade for: good outside shooting, solid defensive skills and experience.
Lindsey recently said the Jazz are going to be active and aggressive in free agency because the team needs to have more depth and veteran leadership than it had last year. Those are attributes the squad was missing while going 40-42 and missing the playoffs after a slew of injuries hampered progress.
“The players are like everybody else. They saw what happened last season, and they know that we know that we need some reinforcements,” Lindsey recently said. “Come early July, we plan on being very active in the free-agent markets.
“With that said, the guards, the wings, the bigs, they’re going to have to compete and then they’re going to have to be good teammates as well when Quin (Snyder) starts making decisions on lineups and who has the ball and who closes, but we’re very confident in the character of this group. They do care about each other. They’ve done everything we’ve asked, but there will be more competition on the roster this year.”
Multiple players have surfaced as possible targets for the Jazz in various reports, including wings Solomon Hill and Luol Deng. A source pointed out that the younger Hill, who’s played three seasons in Indiana, would be the higher-ranked target among those two after having been scouted “heavily” by Utah in recent years.
That certainly doesn’t mean either will end up with the Jazz, though.
It's also likely the Jazz will be trying to facilitate a trade to thin out their crowded point guard position. Trey Burke is the most likely player to be traded, and Utah might be forced to make a decision between Shelvin Mack and Raul Neto because the franchise will also have Dante Exum and George Hill on the roster.
A reminder: Players and teams can agree to terms on deals any time after the free-agency period begins, but the contracts can’t be signed until after the moratorium ends next Wednesday night.
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