After keeping both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap at the trade deadline, Utah is expected to re-sign one of them, but not the other, when they both hit unrestricted free agency this summer, reports Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. The Jazz will likely pursue a sign-and-trade for whichever of the pair they don't keep, Amico adds.
Removing one of the team's starting big men would open up playing time for Derrick Favors, who'll be in the final year of his rookie-scale contract next season and is up for an extension this summer. The Jazz also have center Enes Kanter, who's a recent No. 3 overall pick, just like Favors. Utah's front office is notoriously tight-lipped, and there was plenty of conflicting information before the trade deadline about whether the team was more likely to deal away Jefferson or Millsap. It turned out to be neither, though it would be even more surprising to see the Jazz keep both of them through the summer.
Jefferson makes nearly twice as much as Millsap this season, but they could be in line for similar deals in free agency. They're putting up matching 20.6 PERs this year, and the 28-year-olds are separated in age by just a month and six days. Jefferson, at 6'10", has the ability to play center that the 6'8" Millsap lacks, and the paucity of true centers figures to make Jefferson slightly more sought-after on the market.
The Jazz have Bird rights on both players and can outbid other teams, and they figure to have about $25.3MM in commitments this summer, leaving plenty of cap space to pursue other free agents if they let either Millsap or Jefferson go. They could use some of that room to accomodate whomever they can get back in a sign-and-trade, but their potential sign-and-trade partners will be somewhat limited under provisions of the new collective bargaining agreement that kick in this offseason. Taxpaying teams can't acquire anyone via sign-and-trade, so the Lakers, for instance, who brought in Steve Nash on a sign-and-trade last summer, couldn't do so this year without shedding other salaries to get below the tax line.