Offseason In Review: Utah Jazz

November 23 2013 at 10:50am CST By Zach Links

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking 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

Extensions

Trades

  • Acquired the No. 9 pick in 2013 from the Timberwolves in exchange for the No. 14 pick in 2013 and the No. 21 pick in 2013.
  • Acquired the No. 27 pick in 2013 from the Nuggets in exchange for the No. 46 pick in 2013 and cash.
  • Acquired the No. 47 pick in 2013 from the Hawks in exchange for the Nets’ 2015 second-round pick.
  • Acquired Andris BiedrinsRichard JeffersonBrandon Rush, a 2014 first-round pick, a 2017 first-round pick, a 2016 second-round pick, a 2017 second-round pick, and cash from the Warriors, as well as a 2018 second-round pick from the Nuggets, in exchange for Randy Foye (signed-and-traded to Nuggets) and Kevin Murphy (to Warriors).

Draft Picks

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

Sometimes, you gotta take a step back to move forward.  At least, the Jazz hope that’s true.  After finishing with a .500 record last season, the Jazz realized that they were in the NBA’s dreaded middle ground.  They had enough talent to be in the mix for one of the final playoff spots in the West but their upside was somewhat limited.  This summer, the Jazz decided to build around their youth and position themselves for the future.  It’s a plan that we could praise in next year’s Offseason In Review, but it’s not going to be pretty in the interim.

All season long, fans wondered which big man the Jazz would re-sign: Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap.  The correct answer: neither.  Utah allowed Jefferson to sign a hefty three-year, $40.5MM deal with the Bobcats while watching Millsap sign a two-year, $19MM pact with the Hawks.  Re-signing one (or both) players would have put Utah in the pre-season Mavericks/Pelicans/Blazers/Lakers group of teams fighting for one of the final seeds.  Instead, the Jazz decided to let both walk and give those minutes to Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter in order to help them develop.

The Jazz made their intentions for the 2013/14 season perfectly clear in July when they agreed to take on Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, and Brandon Rush from the Warriors for a boatload of draft picks.  That haul of two first-round picks (2014 and 2017 from Warriors), three second-round picks (2016 and 2017 from Warriors, 2018 from Nuggets) makes the $24MM in additional salary worthwhile for the rebuilding Jazz.  The key, of course, is that all three deals have just one year remaining.  Utah will go into the free agent frenzy of 2014 with just ~$27MM in commitments, a number that should give them more breathing room than just about anyone.

In the meantime, the Jazz are left with floor plans on a four-story mansion hanging in the living room of their small one-bedroom apartment.  Jefferson, once a key cog on the Nets’ back-to-back Finals teams, is a shell of his former self and hasn’t averaged double digit points since the 2010/11 season he spent with San Antonio.  Biedrins has regressed even further with averages of 2.9 PPG and 5.3 RPG across the last four (injury riddled) seasons.  Rush should prove to be an improvement at the starting small forward position over Marvin Williams, but he’ll have to get back on the court first.  Since playing ten minutes against the Nets on November 5th, Rush has yet to appear in another game.  He says that he has more-or-less recovered from his torn ACL, but at this stage, he has a mental block that is keeping him from playing with comfort and confidence.

But enough about this tiny one bedroom with those horrible, noisy neighbors upstairs.  Let’s talk mansion.  The Jazz used their No. 14 and No. 21 picks in the June draft to trade up and grab Michigan guard Trey Burke.  In a draft that could prove to be chock full of duds (just ask Cavs fans how they feel about top pick Anthony Bennett right now), Burke looks like he could be a rather solid point guard.  The 20-year-old boasts tremendous passing ability and has a knack for finding the open man in traffic.  He also knows how to keep command of the basketball with his high-level ball handling and he vaulted up the draft board in part because he was able to cut down on turnovers from his freshman to sophomore year.  Burke completes the triple threat profile with his shooting ability and has solid range from outside.  Even though eight players were taken ahead of him in the 2013 draft, it wouldn’t be surprise at all for him to stand as one of the three best talents in the class five years from now.  In addition to Burke, the Jazz also picked up French center Rudy Gobert towards the end of the first round.  Gobert is raw, but he has the size and defensive aptitude to develop into a solid rotation piece.

After moving on from Millsap/Jefferson, the Jazz locked up Derrick Favors, whom they hope will be a key part of their future.  Utah’s four-year, $49MM deal may seem like a lot on the surface, but at the time of the signing, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports spoke with league execs who said that they would be willing to give him something in the range of $13MM per season.  Frankly, the deal could turn out to be quite a bargain if Favors progresses as they hope he will.  The Jazz were also hoping to hammer something out with Gordon Hayward before the Halloween deadline but it wasn’t meant to be.  Hayward is now set to hit restricted free agency in the summer, but the Jazz might also be open to moving him before the All-Star break.

In the Riggin’ For Wiggins chase, the Jazz might have a leg up on everyone.  It might not be easy to watch, but Utah has decided to have something of a growing pain year to see what they have in Burke, Hayward, Favors, Kanter, and Alec Burks.  This time next year, the Jazz could look like the smartest team in the league.  For now, they’ll have to make do in their cramped bachelor pad.

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