Jazz Buyout Candidates And Mailbag Answers

Feb 18, 2021, 7:05 PM
Utah Jazz - Denver Nuggets...
Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz celebrates a defensive stop with teammates Royce O'Neale #23, Joe Ingles #2 and Donovan Mitchell #45 against the the Denver Nuggets during the first half of Game Two of a first round playoff game at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 19, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah –Β The NBA trade deadline is roughly five weeks away, and with the Utah Jazz owning the best record in the NBA, many fans are wondering if the team will look to improve the roster before the deadline, via the buyout market, or stand pat.

In the latest episode of the Jazz Notes Podcast, Ben Anderson attempts to provide some clarity on how the Jazz could use their open roster spot, and answer other questions submitted to the podcast.

You can listen to the entire clip in the player below, or subscribe to the podcast at the bottom of the article.

Should Jazz Toy With Trades Or Buyouts?

Anderson: I do think the Jazz should explore the buyout market as it comes closer to reality, and it’s likely their best option to improve. As of now, I wouldn’t trade any of the team’s top nine rotations pieces (Conley, Mitchell, Bogdanovic, O’Neale, Gobert, Clarkson, Ingles, Favors, Niang) and I am not sure anyone behind them (Oni, Morgan, Harrison, Hughes, Azubuike) has more value around the league than they do to the Jazz.

Unless the Jazz have seen something in Bogdanovic this year that makes them think there’s going to be a significant drop in his play and now is time to get away from the remaining two years and $38 million left on his deal, (it would make re-signing Conley easier) then I don’t see where the Jazz would want to make a trade.

And, to Boganovic’s credit, his floor spacing is still an enormous reason the Jazz offensive machine is functioning at a very high level.

So, looking at the potential trade and buyout market, there are a few players who if they become available would add value to the Jazz, though I’m skeptical the Jazz are looking to drastically shake up the rotation right now.

Garrett Temple, G, Chicago Bulls

Chicago continues to hover between chaos and competency and might finally decide to blow it up midway through this season.

The Jazz have had their name mentioned with Temple dating back to 2015, so there’s likely some interesting there, but at this point, the Jazz need for another combo guard likely isn’t very high.

He could provide emergency depth if the team has an injury on the guard line, but he might not leap Oni on the depth chart.

Wayne Ellington, G, Detroit Pistons

The only problem with Wayne Ellington is he can probably fetch the Pistons a second-round pick from a team who wants to add shooting, and at 43 percent from deep, he’s probably worth it.

If he got waived, he’d have to clear waivers first before the Jazz could talk to him, and he’d have plenty of suitors for playoff teams wanting a floor-spacing veteran. And to that point, he may not clear waivers.

If you thought he added a significant upgrade to the roster as a shooter, for a team that feels like it’s close to winning a championship, he’s worth a second-round pick and would be an intriguing option for the Jazz.

Trevor Ariza, Wing, Oklahoma City Thunder

Like Ellington, the Thunder are likely waiting to see if they can fetch an asset for Trevor Ariza before setting him free. But, if he hit the free-agent market, he would make sense as another floor spacer and bigger defender for the Jazz.

He’s not better than Royce O’Neale at this point in his career, and he’s not as prolific of a shooter as Bogdanovic, but he’s better defensively. The Jazz could certainly use Ariza, even if it’s only for spot minutes in the postseason.

Otto Porter, Wing, Chicago Bulls

Of all the potential names on the list, Otto Porter would be the most exciting for the Jazz, assuming he can return from his back injury this season.

Porter has missed the last two weeks dealing with back pain, and it’s unclear when he will return. Jazz fans remember the team’s pursuit of Porter in the summer of 2017, though they probably dodged a bullet by making room for Donovan Mitchell to develop more naturally.

Now, on the final year of his massive deal, the Bulls would love to take on a contract and a first-round pick in exchange for Porter’s expiring deal, but that might not come to fruition.

Porter is a name I’d keep a close eye on, and as a 40 percent three-point shooter on more than four attempts per game, he could really help.

Mike Muscala, Forward, Oklahoma City Thunder

Again, the Thunder would probably love to turn Muscala into a second-round pick, but probably don’t have long-term plans for him on the roster, so if they could buy him out and save a few dollars, it’s not the worst idea.

The idea of Mike Muscala has probably always been better than the reality, but a backup four that shoots 38 percent from the three-point line and has played in more than 400 career games is nothing to shake a stick at.

Aron Baynes, Center, Toronto Raptors

Aron Baynes has been shockingly bad in Toronto and may need a change of scenery to regain his former level of play.

Baynes is still a part of the Raptors rotation, and they should make the playoffs in the East, but they could save money by agreeing to a buyout over the next month.

They already waived Alex Len this season, so they may not want to do that again while lacking depth in the frontcourt, but the Baynes experiment has been a failure and they likely have no interest in picking up his player option next season.

If the Jazz continue to hold onto the best record in the league, there will be real interest from ring chasing veterans to join them.

Anderson:Β I think this is the most under-discussed issue this season and it’s one of the few real pauses I have about whether the Jazz are true contenders or not.

There are teams that play such a unique style of basketball every season that they are difficult to prepare for even during a traditional regular season when you have a day or two off to get ready for the game.

This season, teams are rarely practicing, meaning their ability to have in-depth scouting reports on their opponent that they can run through in practice and shoot around are even further depleted.

As a result, I do wonder if most teams simply don’t have the ability to really prepare themselves for the Jazz three-point shooting and get run off the floor during the regular season.

Does that change when the playoffs come and you face one opponent who starts finding little things they can do to disrupt the Jazz system? And how much disruption will it take before the machine fails?

Mike D’Antoni teams couldn’t ever overcome this problem in Phoenix or Houston, but the Warriors won three titles in five years. Last season the Milwaukee Bucks were incredibly difficult to plan for with one day of preparation but were pretty easily eliminated in the playoffs.

The advantage the Jazz have going for them which the Warriors also had is they are an elite defensive team and that should translate to the playoffs, but the Bucks were great last year too and led the league in net rating, but they couldn’t make it to the conference finals.

To answer the other part of your questions, how would I try to slow the Jazz?

It starts with committing to slowing the pick and roll with only two players, and not bringing help defenders. Then, those other three defenders have to nearly faceguard the other Jazz shooters on the floor to make sure the team’s perimeter shooting never gets going.

The problem then is that the Jazz have Mitchell, Clarkson, Conley, and Bogdanovic who can beat you in isolation situations, and they’ll just test those matchups over and over until they find a mismatch.

The Jazz offense is punishing right now, it’s a great roster and design.

If I didn’t answer your question in this article, I answered it in the podcast which you can subscribe to here!

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Jazz Buyout Candidates And Mailbag Answers