The NBA trade deadline is now less than two weeks away, and rumors are swirling about what the Utah Jazz will do.
In determining what, if any, moves the Jazz will make, the first thing to consider is the current players who are untouchable. It’s a short list, starting with Rudy Gobert and ending with Donovan Mitchell. Joe Ingles and Dante Exum are the other players on this team that Utah would hate to give up. It would have to be a great deal for Dennis Lindsey to be willing to part with either of those two.
In a recent article on ESPN, Adrian Wojnarowski talked about the Jazz’s interest in Chicago Bulls stretch four Nikola Mirotic. Wojnarowski stated, “Mirotic has been intrigued with the Utah Jazz, whose coach, Quin Snyder, has a reputation for maximizing offensive talent.”
According to Wojnarowski, Mirotic told the Bulls that the Jazz are one of the places he would like to be traded to, and he has a clause in his contract that allows him to veto any trade involving himself. Spencer Checketts of 1280 The Zone later reported on Twitter that not only is Mirotic interested, but so are the Jazz.
“Mirotic to the Jazz is real. Not saying it's done, but it's a real possibility," Checketts said. "They're talking.”
What would it cost the Jazz to pry Mirotic away from Chicago? From what is being rumored, the Bulls are seeking an expiring contract and a first-round pick. The Jazz have Derrick Favors and Joe Johnson, and each of their contracts would work perfectly.
The Bulls, however, already have a big man in Robin Lopez, who they like, and he is under contract for another year. They are using this season as a rebuilding year and aren’t looking for veterans to help them win games.
Alec Burks was also a player mentioned by Wojnarowski as someone who could be moved before the deadline: “Teams are targeting the availability of Brooklyn's DeMarre Carroll, Utah's Alec Burks, Orlando's Evan Fournier and Atlanta's Kent Bazemore, among others,” he wrote.
The Bulls, however, likely don't want Burks' contract, even if it does line up well with Mirotic's. Vincent Goodwill, who covers the Bulls for NBC Sports Chicago, said, “So far, the market for Mirotic has been described as ‘tepid,’ according to a league source. The Utah Jazz have engaged in discussions with the Bulls, but to this point, the Bulls don’t want to take on Alec Burks’ $11.5 million for 2018-19 without the Jazz attaching a draft pick.”
Would the Jazz give up a protected first-round pick for Mirotic? If the market for him is described as tepid, then one can’t see the Jazz giving away a first to get him.
The Bulls may be asking a little much. A high second-round pick and Burks for Mirotic could be the compromise that gets the deal done.
In Wojnarowski’s article, he stated that New Orleans was looking for wing depth, so the Pelicans could be interested in Burks. Besides their top three players (Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Jrue Holiday), the Pelicans don’t have much in the way of talent. Taking a gamble on Burks makes some sense.
Favors is the most likely player the Jazz will move, and not because of anything he did, but because Favors, in this modern NBA, is a center and the Jazz already have a pretty good one in Gobert. Favors is also a free agent this offseason and is unlikely to return to Utah to be Gobert’s backup. The center position is overflooded in the league right now so the line for a talented starting center is quite short.
Dan Clayton of Salt City Hoops said, “Keep an eye on any rumor involving the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan. He’s been used as the poster child of the trade market for centers, so any time you hear about a team pursuing DJ, that’s a team that might be interested in Favors, too.”
Jordan's market could be interesting given that he has a player option in his contract for next season. Marc Stein of the New York Post tweeted, “League sources say that the Clippers have yet to receive a proposal from Cleveland, Milwaukee, Portland or anyone else that they’ve found seriously tempting.”
So who is interested in Jordan? The Bucks have been linked to him. Favors would be a cheaper option than Jordan. Milwaukee has a couple of wing players that the Jazz would be seriously interested in: Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton, although Clayton also alluded to the fact that more than Favors would be required to get a deal like that done.
“If they (Parker or Middleton) were available, it would take much more than a half season of Favors to pry either away from Milwaukee," Clayton said.
The Bucks would have Favors’ Bird rights, but the Jazz would need to sweeten the deal. Rodney Hood is someone they could package with Favors. To get a talent like Parker, it is probably worth doing, even with the injury risks (he is still recovering from the second torn ACL of his career, although reports indicate he could return within the next few weeks).
Cleveland is another team that Favors' name has been linked to. On ESPN’s “The Jump,” Wojnarowski said that “Cavs are looking to add size. A player who is available that teams are calling about who could help them is Derrick Favors from the Jazz.”
What do the Cavs have to offer that the Jazz would be interested in? Kevin Love is the first thing that comes to mind. A deal sending Favors and Hood for Love would be something to jump at (Johnson would also probably have to be sent to make the financials work, and Cleveland could also want a draft pick for the All-Star.).
Wojnarowski reported earlier this week, “The Cleveland Cavaliers held an emotional team meeting prior to Monday’s practice, where several players challenged the legitimacy of Kevin Love leaving OKC loss on Saturday ill and missing Sunday’s practice, league sources tell ESPN.”
Sounds like the Cavs and Love are heading for a divorce. Another trade could be Favors for Jae Crowder, who has struggled to fit in with Cleveland, and Channing Frye, who is rumored to be on his way to Sacramento. The Jazz would get a good defensive wing player in Crowder and a stretch five in Frye, although it's unclear whether or not Frye would want to stay in Utah or request to get bought out.
It has also been rumored that the Lakers would like to get out from underneath the contracts of Luol Deng and Jordan Clarkson. Deng’s contract is basically unmovable, and Clarkson at $11 million for two more seasons is a lot to take on even if the Lakers add something to it.
Julius Randle has been attached to these rumors. So does a deal involving Randle and Clarkson in exchange for Favors or Johnson make sense for the Jazz? Clarkson is an inefficient scorer off the bench.
Stein also reported that most of Orlando Magic’s roster is available. Evan Fournier would help with scoring but he is still owed $17 million for three more seasons after this one (the last is a player option year). The Jazz would have to be really sold on him to pull the trigger. Beside Aaron Gordon, who is a restricted free-agent this summer, Orlando doesn’t have much to offer the Jazz.
With Utah's recent poor play, a change to the roster might be just what the doctor ordered. The question is just which deal or deals might get done.
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