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Christian Wood of the Detroit Pistons against Aron Baynes of the Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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32 Utah Jazz Free Agent Targets

Christian Wood of the Detroit Pistons against Aron Baynes of the Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz were eliminated in the first round of the 2020 playoffs by the surprisingly dangerous Denver Nuggets. Denver has now advanced past the conference semi-finals and are likely to give the Los Angeles Lakers trouble en route to the NBA Finals. Now, the Jazz must look to improve their roster by examining the list of free agent targets that could be attainable with the team’s limited assets.

Since the Jazz combined player salaries are likely to push them over the salary cap, the team will qualify the Mid-Level Exception (MLE) valued at roughly $9.7 million. Additionally, since the Jazz didn’t use the Bi-Annual Exception (BAE) last season, they will have that at their disposal as well. That exception is valued at roughly $3.8 million.

That means the Jazz can use those financial figures to sign two players up to the full value of the MLE and the BAE, or split them up among multiple players as long as they don’t exceed the total value of the exception. In addition to the MLE and BAE, the Jazz can sign players to the NBA minimum salary, regardless of their financial outlook.

During the team’s postseason media session, front office members Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik hinted that the Jazz would be targeting versatile defenders that didn’t detract from the team’s shooting prowess.

The Jazz were clearly lacking a capable third big man during the series loss to the Nuggets, as well as perimeter defenders capable of switching between smaller guards and bigger wings.

With that in mind, this is a list of available free agents that might interest the Jazz and could be had with their available exceptions or at the NBA minimum.

32 Potential Utah Jazz Free Agent Targets

Atlanta Hawks

Treveon Graham – SG/SF – Minimum Salary – Unrestricted

Treveon Graham began his career with the Jazz on a preseason invite, but didn’t stick with the team and was waived in 2015. Since then, Graham has made stops in Charlotte, Brooklyn, Minnesota, and most recently Atlanta.

Graham is a plus defender and has shown brief stints of shooting promise, but overall has knocked down a subpar 33 percent of his deep balls.

The wing’s poor field goal percentage and free-throw percentage don’t provide much hope for the soon to be 27 year old to see a sharp uptick in his shooting, but if the Jazz want a versatile wing defender for spot minutes during the regular season, Graham could likely be had for the veteran minimum.

Brooklyn Nets

Joe Harris – SF – Full MLE – Unrestricted

Joe Harris is likely a player the Jazz would kick the tires on only if they had other larger moves in mind. Namely, preparing to move on from veteran guard Joe Ingles. Harris will probably demand significant playing time, and at least the full MLE, if not more when free agency opens this offseason.

Due to his overall talent, and the fact that he’s one of the best shooters in the NBA, the Jazz would gladly sign Harris, even if he doesn’t solve their defensive issues. However, don’t be surprised if the breakout forward signs for a much higher number on a team with a higher-profile role.

Wilson Chandler – PF – Minimum Salary – Unrestricted

Three seasons ago Wilson Chandler would have been a nice addition to any bench in the NBA. Now, as age continues to catch up with the once versatile forward, he’s more valuable as a veteran presence who can play spot minutes in an emergency.

If Chandler remains in the NBA next season, he’ll likely sign with a team in hopes of chasing a ring before he’s forced to retire. At this point, he probably doesn’t make much sense for the Jazz beyond a last resort.

Charlotte Hornets

Bismack Biyombo – C – BAE/Partial MLE – Unrestricted

Bismack Biyombo has made a staggering amount of money in his career compared to his production, but now as an unrestricted free agent, he could make sense for the Jazz.

He’s a solid borderline starting center who defends and finishes in the paint. He’s not worth an enormous investment for what the Jazz need, but he’d be the third-best big man in Utah the day he signed.

Willy Hernangomez – C – Minimum Salary – Unrestricted

The lesser of the two Hernangomezes to show up on this list, Willy Hernangomez provides a similar skill set to his younger brother, at a lower level and lower cost.

At this point in his career, Hernangomez is likely a borderline back up center better suited to serve as the fourth or fifth big in a frontcourt rotation. However, if the Jazz believe he could develop as a shooter, he could add an extra element to the rotation at a low cost.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Tristan Thompson – PF/C – Full MLE – Unrestricted

The Jazz desperately needed help in the frontcourt when Rudy Gobert was off the floor in the postseason, and reserve center Tony Bradley wasn’t up to the challenge. As a result, the Jazz turned to Juwan Morgan whose hustle and rebounding paid off in limited minutes.

The Jazz could look to spend their full MLE on a player like Tristan Thompson, hoping he’d accept a reserve role understanding he could be a missing piece for a team that hopes to make a deep playoff run next season.

Truthfully, Thompson is still deserving of a starting spot elsewhere in the NBA and will have better opportunities to do so somewhere other than Utah, but he might be the most talented player within the Jazz possibilities this offseason. He also brings championship experience and would be terrific insurance if the Jazz didn’t find a way to retain Gobert by next summer.

Matthew Dellavedova – PG/SG – Minimum Salary – Unrestricted

Matthew Dellavedova saw a dramatic decrease in his performance this season and could be nearing the end of his career. On the other hand, he was stuck playing behind a deep, but young guard rotation in Cleveland that wasn’t focused on winning.

Dellavedova still plays hard and would add a veteran defender to the Jazz backcourt, however, he’s not worth much more than the veteran minimum at this point in his career.

Dallas Mavericks

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – SF – Minimum Salary/BAE – Unrestricted

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is one of the bigger busts in recent NBA history, partially due to injuries, and his absolute inability to develop offensively.

However, at only 26 years old, standing 6’6, with the ability to guard three positions on the floor, Kidd-Gilchrist remains on NBA radars. He’s a more proven defender than the aforementioned Treveon Graham but has less offensive upside.

Courtney Lee – SG – BAE/Partial MLE – Unrestricted

Courtney Lee would provide veteran defense and reliable shooting for the Jazz, as long as he recovers from calf surgery after an undisclosed injury during the NBA’s hiatus.

Lee provided the Mavericks with valuable minutes for stretches last season and would be a welcome addition to the Jazz. At 34, he’s on the downside of his career, but that might be a nice fit with the Jazz limited opportunity in the backcourt.

Denver Nuggets

Mason Plumlee – C – Full MLE – Unrestricted

Mason Plumlee continues to prove he’s one of the most valuable reserve centers in the NBA. Backing up Nikola Jokic in Denver, the big man brings athleticism, hustle, and superb passing to a second unit that is focused on defense and spreading the floor.

The Jazz could use everything Plumlee brings to the table, including his passing which is foreign in the Jazz frontcourt. He would cost the full MLE however, and the Jazz may prefer to use that money elsewhere.

Paul Millsap – PF – Partial MLE – Unrestricted

At times this season, it has looked like Paul Millsap’s lack of size and athleticism had finally caught up to him as he was nearly unplayable in the first-round series against the Jazz.

However, a look at his full-season numbers and he still averages better than 11 points, five rebounds, and shoots above 40 percent from the three-point line. He would help the Jazz in the regular season, but he might get played off the floor in the postseason. His value will be determined by whether teams think he can help them when it matters most.

Detroit Pistons

Jordan McRae – SG – BAE – Unrestricted

Jordan McRae is coming off the best season of his NBA career and still found himself suiting up for three different (mostly bad) roster this season. That’s because the 29-year-old found a way to score the ball for the first time in his career while offering very little on the defensive end.

McRae could offer emergency depth for the Jazz on the wing if Ingles sees a significant drop in production, but his lack of defense wouldn’t address the Jazz’s biggest needs.

Christian Wood – PF/C – Full MLE – Unrestricted

Along with Tristan Thompson, Christian Wood might be the most talented player that is within the Jazz grasp this offseason. Wood had a breakout year in Detroit flashing the ability to spread the floor while adding tremendous athleticism down low.

Wood would likely prefer a starting spot next season but at 25 years old, and yet to sign a major NBA contract, would be smart to take the biggest offer he could find. Would the Jazz be willing to give him the full MLE for the next four seasons? If so, he could be a major difference-maker off the bench.

Indiana Pacers

Justin Holiday – SF – Partial/Full MLE – Unrestricted

With a championship ring under his belt, and on the wrong side of 30, Justin Holiday is in a comfortable position to sign with whichever team can offer him the most money. After finding himself as a regular starter late in his 20s, Holiday moved to the bench last season for Indiana and proved valuable as a reserve wing that shot better than 40 percent from the three-point line.

He would have a strong impact on the Jazz second unit and would add defense and shooting, but might cost the full MLE to do so.

Los Angeles Clippers

JaMychal Green – PF – Partial/Full MLE – Player Option

After signing with the Los Angeles Clippers last offseason on a below-market deal, JaMychal Green will likely be looking to recoup some of his losses in free agency. However, with superior players like Tristan Thompson, Montrezl Harrell, Derrick Favors, and Christian Wood on the market, he may not be able to earn as much as he had hoped.

Still, Green is a very capable floor spacer who has played significant minutes on talented teams. Those players don’t grow on trees and would give the Jazz a tremendous upgrade as the first big man off the bench.

Patrick Patterson – PF/C – Minimum Salary – Unrestricted

The idea of Patrick Patterson has likely always been superior to the reality of Patrick Patterson. However, like Green, the veteran big man added shooting and experience to the Clippers bench.

He could do the same for the Jazz, but he’s far past his prime, and would likely only receive spot minutes on a minimum value deal.

Los Angeles Lakers

Markieff Morris – PF – BAE/Partial MLE – Unrestricted

Markieff Morris was having a promising season in Detroit before being bought out and signing with an awkward Los Angeles Lakers lineup. He adds shooting, some defense, and toughness a la Jae Crowder, but isn’t as versatile on either side of the floor.

The Jazz would be Morris’ seventh team in the last six years, giving you a better understanding of the type of replaceable value teams’ seem to see in him as he ages. But there are worse options available.

Miami Heat

Derrick Jones Jr. – SF/PF – BAE – Unrestricted

Derrick Jones Jr. is in the midst of his career-best season in Miami and may be the best athlete in the NBA. Simply put he comes as close to flying as anyone the league has ever seen.

Because of his quickness, length, and superior leaping ability, he’s developing into a promising wing defender on a roster that may win the Eastern Conference.

However, he simply cannot shoot, leaving most of his damage offensively to be done in transition and on second-chance points. He has also rarely seen the floor in Miami’s latest playoff run. Is it worth signing a player that can’t see the floor in the postseason?

Jae Crowder – PF – Full MLE – Unrestricted

Jae Crowder is a fan favorite everywhere he plays, as was the case during his stint in Utah. However, the more you watch him, the more his warts come to light. He’s having a strong playoff run with the Miami Heat and would be best suited to remain in Miami in his current role.

He will get a significant offer sheet this summer but probably isn’t worth the full MLE for the Jazz.

Milwaukee Bucks

Pat Connaughton – SG – BAE – Unrestricted Free Agent

Pat Connaughton might be the modern-day Matthew Dellavedova, which is the reason Milwaukee was willing to move the veteran Australian in favor of the Notre Dame product.

At 27, Connaughton has less upside than it may seem in his young career, but he has brought hustle and elite athleticism to the Bucks when he sees the floor. He’s not an elite shooter, but he plays hard, and that’s worth a look in the offseason.

Wesley Matthews – SF – BAE/Partial MLE – Player Option

Wesley Matthews continues to be one of the better 3-and-D players in the NBA, despite a series of serious injuries in his past. He would check the Jazz boxes of wanting more defense and shooting this offseason.

He is past his prime, and his shooting is beginning to slip, but he would help the Jazz for the right price. Due to his reputation, another team may be willing to make him an offer at a price he simply isn’t worth, and the Jazz likely recognize that.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Juan Hernangomez – PF – Partial/Full MLE – Restricted Free Agent

The second of two brothers to show up on this list, Juan is the superior of the Hernangomezes in the NBA and proved it in Minnesota.

After a minutes pinch in Denver pushed him onto the trade block, Hernangomez shot an eye-opening 42 percent from the three-point line with the Timberwolves on nearly five attempts per game. While it was over a small 14 games sample size, when teamed with his 12.9 point and 7.3 rebound per game average, fans saw a taste of why Hernangomez was nearly a lottery pick just three seasons ago.

He would come at a high cost based on a small sample size but could be a worthwhile gamble to add a new element to the Jazz center rotation.

New Orleans Pelicans

Derrick Favors – PF/C – Full MLE – Unrestricted Free Agent

The apple of many Jazz fans’ eyes, there is strong rumored mutual interest in bringing the former Jazzman back to Utah. Favors brings defense, culture, and an instant understanding of how to produce in Quin Snyder’s system.

He would likely cost the full MLE, but he’s proven his value for the Jazz as one of the league’s elite reserve centers. He also adds insurance for the Jazz in case they lose Gobert to injury or in free agency. Favors would be a major upgrade for the Jazz this offseason, but he comes at a cost.

New York Knicks

Maurice Harkless – SG/SF – Partial MLE – Unrestricted Free Agent

One of the more underrated free agents this offseason, Maurice Harkless has a history as a strong defender but an inconsistent shooter.

When he’s played with better teams that give him space, he’s knocked down threes at a reasonable rate, as was the case with the Clippers and for stretches in Portland. He also had a strong under the radar defensive year despite playing for the miserable New York Knicks. He’s intriguing, especially if he’s hitting open shots.

Bobby Portis – PF/C – Partial MLE – Team Option

Bobby Portis and the Jazz were rumored to have mutual interest last season before he signed with the Knicks on a bloated contract. He’ll likely be waived by the Knicks this offseason, once again making him available.

He’s young and adds rebounding and shooting, but he’s a poor defender and has had some attitude issues in the past. He’s not the worst option for the Jazz due to his ability to space the floor, but he’s far from the best.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Nerlens Noel – C – Partial MLE – Unrestricted Free Agent

Nerlens Noel had arguably the best season of his career in Oklahoma City this year, providing rim protection and rebounding off the Thunder bench.

He won’t ever be a starting center, but he’s a good option for a team that doesn’t want to throw more money at the Favors, Woods, or Plumlee’s of the world.

Andre Roberson – SG/SF – BAE – Unrestricted Free Agent

Andre Roberson is coming off a devastating knee injury but did see the floor inside the Orlando bubble for the Thunder this season. Before the injury, he was one of the truly elite on the ball wing defenders in the league and would have had a spot in the rotation for all 30 NBA teams.

If the Jazz trust his medicals enough to sign him, he would be a worthwhile addition on the defensive end, even if he can’t shoot a lick.

Orlando Magic

Wes Iwundu – SG/SF – BAE/Partial MLE – Restricted Free Agent

Wes Iwundu is a solid rotation player who found himself starting in 21 games this season for the Orlando Magic, despite average shooting and scoring numbers.

If you know the Magic, you know they like long, versatile athletes, and that’s exactly what Iwundu is. He’s a solid player, but as a restricted free agent, he may cost more than he’s worth to pry away.

Phoenix Suns

Aron Baynes – C – Partial MLE – Unrestricted Free Agent

Aron Baynes is will past the wrong side of 30, but he’s tough, shoots well, and his teammates seem to love him.

He’s not an elite shooter but has to be respected at the center position which is something the Jazz currently don’t have. He could fetch the type of contract that may seem like an overpayment this year, but considering his history of success in San Antonio, Detroit, Boston, and Phoenix, there’s more there than meets the eye.

Portland Trail Blazers

Wenyen Gabriel – SF/PF – BAE – Restricted Free Agent

Wenyen Gabriel is a shot in the dark, but he plays hard and has good defensive tools.

He’s young and has yet to prove he can shoot the ball, but he has reasonable upside for a player that might be available at a low cost.

Sacramento Kings

Kent Bazemore – SG – Partial MLE – Unrestricted Free Agent

Kent Bazemore has the fortunate unluck of signing an enormously overpriced contract that has changed the way he’s perceived in the NBA. The guard has been dramatically overpaid since 2016, despite solid production even when being misused against bigger wing players.

Bazemore won’t receive anywhere near the $19 million deal he made this year, but he showed his value in Sacramento averaging 10 points and nearly five rebounds while shooting a respectable 38 percent from the three-point line.

Unfortunately for the Jazz, Bazemore is best suited at shooting guard, where the Jazz should be overloaded with Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson, assuming he re-signs this offseason.

Harry Giles – PF/C – BAE/Partial MLE – Unrestricted Free Agent

If the Jazz strikeout on the veteran frontcourt market by missing out on Favors or Green, Giles might be an excellent consolation prize.

The former top high school recruit has slowly found his footing in Sacramento and could be primed for a breakout next season. His healthy concerns are serious, but the Jazz would allow him to play limited minutes behind Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic easing the burden on his body.

Signing Giles above the BAE exception might be a slight gamble, but the payoff could be surprisingly high.

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