Offseason In Review: Utah Jazz

November 7 2012 at 2:57pm CDT By Luke Adams

Throughout the month of November, Hoops Rumors will look back at each team's offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.

Signings

Trades and Claims

Draft Picks

  • Kevin Murphy (Round 2, 47th overall). Signed via minimum salary exception.

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

For some Jazz fans, the team's eighth-place finish in the Western Conference last season represented of a worst-case scenario of sorts. With Utah's first-round pick lottery protected, a playoff berth ensured that the pick would be ticketed for Minnesota, denying the Jazz the chance to add another young player to the roster going forward. However, as the No. 8 seed, Utah's postseason ended prematurely when they were swept by the top-seeded Spurs, whose margin of victory for the series was 16 points per game.

Despite the quick playoff exit though, it had to be encouraging for the Jazz to even be in a position to qualify for the postseason so soon after the team traded its star player, Deron Williams. With a young roster that includes four players on rookie scale contracts, Utah heads into the 2012/13 season knowing that players like Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, and Enes Kanter should only continue to improve.

But before we get to this season's outlook, let's backtrack a little to the summer in Utah. The team got off to an early start, getting in on a four-team deal with the Mavericks, Clippers, and Rockets that landed them Mo Williams for, essentially, nothing but a trade exception. Williams is entering the last year of his contract and may not be a long-term piece for the Jazz, but he's still a capable veteran point guard, and his arrival served as a precursor for Utah's second deal of the summer: acquiring Marvin Williams for Devin Harris.

New Hawks GM Danny Ferry received plenty of accolades this summer not only for unloading Joe Johnson's contract, but also for flipping Williams, who had two years remaining on his deal, for an expiring contract in Harris. While the deal certainly worked out nicely for Atlanta, it's hard to argue that the Jazz were swindled. Williams is a former second overall pick, and is slightly cheaper than Harris in 2012/13, meaning the only downside for the Jazz is that extra year on his deal — Williams has a player option worth $7.5MM for 2013/14 that he'll likely exercise.

While such a commitment might put a serious dent in another team's flexibility, the Jazz have so few salaries on their books beyond this season that Williams' option shouldn't exactly hamper their flexibility. Besides Williams' $7.5MM figure, a modest $1.66MM guarantee for Jeremy Evans, and a non-guaranteed minimum salary for Kevin Murphy, those four rookie-scale contracts mentioned earlier are Utah's only '13/14 commitments.

Sure, the Jazz may have had room for two maximum-salary players if the team hadn't taken on Williams' salary, something that will be difficult to do now. But I don't think anyone in Utah believes that two maximum-salary free agents (Chris Paul and Dwight Howard?) are eyeing the Jazz as a potential destination. The club still has a ton of potential cap space to either re-sign its own free agents or pursue players on the open market — or both.

Another potential use for all that impending cap space? Making an in-season trade this year. With a number of contracts set to expire, the Jazz could kill multiple birds with one stone if they decided to move Al Jefferson, for instance. That would not only show Paul Millsap that the team is committed to him, rather than Jefferson, long-term, but it would clear a frontcourt logjam, allowing Favors and Kanter to play more. Plus, Utah's future cap flexibility would allow the team to take on a bad contract in such a deal if it meant acquiring an extra asset or two.

We're getting ahead of ourselves in looking ahead to Utah's next move though. The team's offseason itself was rather quiet — no first-round picks, no free agent signings worth more than $2.5MM annually, and, despite the pair of trades, no blockbuster deals that brought in a significant long-term piece.

It's not hard to imagine that this summer was the calm before the storm, however. With only about $26MM in salary on the books for 2013/14 and barely $10MM in likely commitments for 2014/15, the Jazz have set themselves up beautifully to add complementary pieces to their young core, as well as eventually retaining those young players long-term.

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