Entering the offseason, the Utah Jazz stood at a pivot point in the trajectory of their franchise. Their loss in the first round to the Dallas Mavericks unearthed all their playoff struggles with inconsistent perimeter defense against a 5-out offensive system.
This summer, the Utah Jazz transitioned from one of the most cap-restraint teams after the blockbuster trade that sent Rudy Gobert to Minnesota and earned Utah a serious bulk of future assets along with Patrick Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt.
They are in a position to generate $40M+ in cap space ahead of the 2023 offseason and more importantly they have assets to either rebuild or retool their roster around Donovan Mitchell, who is expected to remain with the team, Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
Utah acquired five players and four first-round picks as part of the deal with Minnesota and they have Mitchell locked to a max contract for four seasons. It’s pretty obvious the Utah are going to get younger and become more flexible financially.
Moreover, the Jazz addressed an issue with the piece they received from Rudy Gobert. With the Frenchman, Utah was an elite defensive squad during the regular season, allowing just 104.5 points per 100 possessions in 2120 minutes of play.
Their defensive rating dipped to 112.3 points with Gobert off the court. That does not mean, of course, that the Jazz will be worse in the defensive end without Gobert next season.
If the roster remains as it is now, The Jazz have added one great defensive wing in Jarred Vanderbilt and a perimeter defender in Patrick Beverley. Also, they have Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson as assets if they want to improve their current squad.
Clarkson and Bogdanovic are entering the final year of their contract (Clarkson has a player option for 2023-24), and they might be included in trade deals in order for Utah to receive more future assets and definitely more financial flexibility.
In any case, they’re two ways the Utah Jazz can take advantage of their current situation.
Retooling around Donovan Mitchell
Utah has acquired many assets and could use these assets to attract veteran players, who can fit with the current All-Star. The team already acquired pieces, that are fitting with superstar scoring guard Donovan Mitchell.
Mitchell’s defensive ability in the perimeter is not one of his strongest traits. Players like Patrick Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt could be taking over the defensive assignments, especially in the perimeter and the wing.
The Jazz are “not even close” to finished with their offseason. With the new faces coming in, Utah will have to clear the logjam in its guard rotation with Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Jared Butler, and Leandro Bolmaro.
It still to be seen what direction will be followed here. Mike Conley has two more seasons on his current deal worth something more than $47 million. Bojan Bogdanovic is in an expiring deal worth $19 million for the 2022-23 season.
Jordan Clarkson has one more season on his current deal, plus a player option worth $14.2 million for the 2023-23 season. He set to make more than $13 million next season. Moreover, Nickeil Alexander-Walker is set to become a free agent next summer, while the same goes for Jared Butler.
The Jazz have hired a young coach and signed him to a long contract, they traded away their star for future assets, and they appear to be moving in a different pace regarding the future.
They’re certainly going to address the center position by maybe using some of the guards as assets, considering the option in the free agent market are limited. Certainly, they are not expected to sign a player to a lucrative contract this summer.
Auburn big man Walker Kessler, the No. 22 in the 2022 NBA Draft, will arrive in Utah with potentially a more oversized role than had been anticipated for him with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The second option for the Utah Jazz will be to go on a full-fledged rebuild, where they trade Donovan Mitchell for assets and rebuild through the draft for the future. That’s not seem to be the option for now, especially if Mitchell is on board for the retooling tactic.
In that case, Mitchell will be traded to another team, which will be able to add young players and assets in the mix. Utah already holds three first-round picks in 2023 via Utah, Brooklyn, and Minnesota.
In 2024, they are without picks, but in 2025 they have their own first and Minnesota’s. They have their own first in 2026, theirs and the Timberwolves’ in 2027, their own in 2028, and a top-five protected pick in 2029 from Minnesota, as well as their own.
In case they elect to give up Mitchell, then they expect to demand a package that definitely includes a galore of first-round picks and maybe a young promising player, who can lead the team’s rebuilding process, especially in the first few seasons.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN suggested that Danny Ainge and the Jazz front office are making similar moves to what Boston did in the first year under Brad Stevens, where Ainge was also in the front office.