Zach Lowe of Grantland leads off his weekly Tuesday column with a lengthy look at the Jazz, a team he calls "the most interesting franchise in the league right now." As Utah approaches an offseason in which it could potentially open up about $30MM in cap space, Lowe shares a few notes of interest on the club:
- A desire to qualify for the postseason this year played a part in Utah's stasis at the trade deadline, according to Lowe. The team's longtime owners, the Miller family, prefer to avoid being in the lottery, so the Jazz weren't about to give up Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson in a deal that would seriously downgrade this year's roster.
- According to Lowe's sources, the Raptors and Pistons were among the teams with whom the Jazz engaged in trade discussions prior to the deadline.
- Had the Jazz been more aggressive about shopping Jefferson and/or Millsap last spring, they could likely have acquired a high first-round pick for Millsap, sources tell Lowe. However, Lowe notes that it's unclear whether that pick would have been attached to an unwanted contract.
- Lowe expects the Jazz to sign-and-trade one of its big free agents this summer, though the new CBA and the number of teams with cap space figures to cool the sign-and-trade market a little.
- League sources who talked to Utah in advance of the deadline say that the Jazz presented themselves as willing to take a step back next season and land a high pick in a loaded 2014 draft. The influence of new GM Dennis Lindsey played a role in that stance, says Lowe.
- Talks between the Clippers and Jazz about Eric Bledsoe and Millsap never got too serious, according to Lowe.
- Since the point guard free agent market isn't expected to be too strong this summer or next, Lowe expects the Jazz to continue exploring trades for a point guard.