Buy, Sell, Or Hold: Utah Jazz At The Trade Deadline
Mar 23, 2021, 12:35 PM
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA trade deadline is set for Thursday at 3 pm ET. The Utah Jazz own the best record in the NBA, but like every team across the league, they will be on the phone over the next 48 hours looking for ways to improve their roster.
With the deadline fast approaching, we look at the top 10 players on the Jazz roster, their current trajectory, and how the team should view their futures.
Mike Conley: Trending Up
The Jazz find themselves in a precarious situation with Mike Conley. The veteran guard is in the midst of a career-year, being named to his first All-Star game earlier this month, and will be a free agent this offseason.
In most years, the Jazz might be aggressively looking to sell high on the 33-year-old, recognizing his asking price in the offseason might be too steep for a team that is facing a serious financial crunch after giving Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell $200 million extensions last offseason.
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) March 20, 2021
However, Conley is one of the main reasons the Jazz own the best record in the NBA, and without him in the lineup, they’ve struggled to run a coherent offense.
Conley has said he likes Utah and seems inclined to re-sign in the summer, but finding an agreeable price tag could be a thornier discussion than some expect. Regardless, the Jazz can’t move the guard without seriously undercutting their championship aspirations, so expect him to stay a Jazzman for the foreseeable future.
Donovan Mitchell: Trending Up
Somehow, after decades of waiting for a star-level perimeter scorer, some Jazz fans seem inclined to nitpick Mitchell’s continued excellence in his fourth season.
However, it doesn’t seem like the Jazz brain trust is making that same mistake.
The front office and ownership gave Mitchell a five-year, $195 million extension last summer, happily making him a franchise cornerstone for the next half-decade.
Mitchell is only three and a half seasons into his NBA career and is already in the discussion as a top-five Jazz player of all time. Fans should enjoy every second they get to watch him. He’s not going anywhere.
Royce O’Neale: Staying Level
Though he isn’t shooting the ball as well as he did in January, Royce O’Neale continues to be one of the steadiest fixtures in the Jazz lineup.
He consistently draws the toughest defensive assignment on any given night and is a great floor spacer in the Jazz starting lineup. Better yet, he continues to improve his game every season and never complains about his role.
— Matthew L Glade (@matthewLksl) February 15, 2021
O’Neale is actually one of the more valuable trade pieces for the Jazz as he fits on every roster in the NBA, is a bargain at less than $10 million per season, and seems to be well-liked by his teammates.
The problem is, as soon as the Jazz trade a player like O’Neale, they spend the next three offseasons hoping to find someone to replace him. For that reason, O’Neale shouldn’t be on the trade market unless a star-level player is coming back to the Jazz in return.
Bojan Bogdanovic: Seriously Explore Options
It’s nearly unfathomable that Bojan Bogdanovic could be on the trade market after how brilliantly he played last season for the Jazz, but after undergoing wrist surgery over the summer, the sharpshooter hasn’t been the same.
Despite his struggles, Bogdanovic is still shooting 37 percent from the three-point line and averaging nearly 15 points per game, but there are legitimate questions about whether he should be closing games for the Jazz with his current level of play.
Mix in the fact that he is set to earn nearly $40 million over the next two seasons, and that clearing that money from the books in the next few days would make resigning Conley significantly easier, the idea of moving Bogdanovic becomes that much more palatable.
I think people forget how small the Jazz felt without Bojan Bogdanovic in the bubble.
He’s not a great defender or rebounder but he’s a big person and I think Quin Snyder likes that to close games.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) March 17, 2021
The Jazz can’t take on just any expiring deal for the forward, as his floor spacing is essential for the Jazz offense. But, if he continues at this lower level of play, he’ll be a target for opposing teams on both sides of the ball in the playoffs.
The best version of the Jazz features the Bogdanovic the team saw last season, and that player could return as he continues to put distance between himself and his surgery. However, if any of the team’s main rotational pieces is going to be moved in the next two days, Bogdanovic should be the odds on favorite.
Rudy Gobert: Trending Up
Like Mitchell, Rudy Gobert re-signed with the Jazz during the offseason and should be the face of the franchise for the next five years.
While the league increases its focus on three-point shooting, Gobert somehow continues to be the most impactful defensive player in the league and is starting to hear his name as a fringe MVP candidate.
Everything the Jazz do is built around Gobert’s skillset and paired with his sustained excellence, there’s no reason to consider a move.
Jordan Clarkson: Staying Level
Clarkson has quietly had a pretty miserable March, shooting just 36 percent from the floor and 32 percent from the three-point line while his scoring average has dropped to 15 points per game.
However, at his best, which the Jazz saw for the first two months of the season, Clarkson has the talent to turn a good team into a championship contender.
Three straight threes for Jordan Clarkson and the @utahajzz have built a 36-33 lead early in the second.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) March 17, 2021
Getting back to that level over the final two months of the season will be key for the Jazz, but they’ll be more than happy to make the bet that he gets there.
The Jazz could sell high on Clarkson now but would be instantly worse without him, plus, he seems destined to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award. His stock should only rise, and he helps the Jazz win games, even with his recent string of inefficiency.
Joe Ingles: Trending Up
Somehow, at 33-years-old, Joe Ingles is playing the best basketball of his career. The reserve guard has absurd shooting splits of 54/50/89 this season and could become the first player in NBA history to break the 50/50/90 threshold.
On top of being a deadeye shooter, he can play multiple positions in the backcourt and on the wing, has an enormously high basketball IQ, and seems to be improving.
Like Clarkson, the Jazz could sell high on Ingles now, but they’d be worse off without him.
Derrick Favors: Trending Down
It’s apparent Derrick Favors is no longer the player he was during his prime in Utah, and is limited to a handful of minutes off the bench behind Gobert.
He still has his moments and could improve as he adjusts to his new role with the Jazz, but with two years and $20 million left on his deal, he’s an expensive backup center.
He has proven he’s trustworthy in the playoffs, so his contract may not be as much of an albatross as it may seem from his regular-season production, and he has extra value if Gobert misses an extended run of games.
But at this point, he shouldn’t be considered untradable, though there likely isn’t much of a market for him.
Georges Niang: Staying Level
Georges Niang finds himself in an interesting spot with the Jazz. He’s a proven back of the rotation NBA player, he doesn’t cost the team losses, and likely accounts for 2-3 wins a season with his occasional high-scoring outings.
But he is on an expiring contract and will be a free agent this summer.
Minivan got moves 🚐💨 pic.twitter.com/mA1jJ6K4b9
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) March 8, 2020
At his currently minimum contract, there’s no urgency to explore moving him, and with lower shooting percentages this season, there might not be an enormous market for him for the Jazz to compete with in the summer.
For now, Niang is one of the better ninth-men in the NBA and showed last year that he’s capable of rotation minutes in the playoffs. At his current price, he’s a great value, and worth holding onto.
Miye Oni: Trending Up
It’s hard to project exactly what Miye Oni’s future looks like, though it should be safe to assume he’ll be a Jazzman for at least another season.
He hasn’t played much this year, but he appears to have potential as a 3-and-D guard capable of spot minutes in an emergency.
With the Jazz proven history of developing young players, further investing in Oni is more valuable than trying to move him at the deadline. He could have value as an additional piece to be thrown in with another Jazz player to complete a bigger trade, but on his own, there’s no reason to ship him out.
With the Jazz current standing as the best team in the NBA, and an identity uniquely built around the talent currently on the roster, it’s difficult to imagine any major shakeups to the team.
But, if the right trade were to present itself to push the Jazz over the top, they have a few interesting pieces that could be moved.
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