Ingles Injury Adds To Jazz Trade Deadline Needs

Feb 1, 2022, 1:56 PM
Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)...
Utah Jazz guard Joe Ingles (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz had made it no secret that they were looking to address the team’s defensive shortfalls ahead of the February 10 trade deadline.

Then, over the weekend, the Jazz got an unexpected turn of bad luck when veteran Joe Ingles suffered a torn ACL in a blowout loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In addition to the emotional toll that losing a player like Ingles will take on the team, the injury throws a wrench in the gears of the team’s options ahead of the trade deadline.

In the final year of his deal in Utah, Ingles was likely the team’s most realistic trade asset, serving as a $13 million expiring contract that opposing teams covet to alleviate their salary cap concerns.

But perhaps even more so than his value as a trade piece, Ingles was a uniquely good fit for the Jazz on the floor, however long the team planned to keep him on the roster.

While it’s true the Jazz may have the deepest backcourt in the NBA with two All-Stars in Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell, last year’s Sixth Man of the Year award winner Jordan Clarkson, and two quality young pieces in Jared Butler and Trent Forrest, Ingles was the only player other than Mitchell who can realistically start either guard spot.

That meant when Conley sits out games to ease his workload, Ingles is a more than capable starting point guard. When Mitchell is absent, Ingles can step in alongside Conley at shooting guard and the team can maintain a high level of play.

Like both Jazz starters, Ingles is a proven shooter, passer, and playmaker, a rare combination to find among bench players in the NBA. Despite the Jazz backcourt depth, they don’t have another player like Ingles in the second unit ready to fill his role.

Clarkson for example is a more adept isolation scorer, but doesn’t shoot as well nor create for others the way Ingles can.

Forrest is a quality passer and occasional playmaker but lacks Ingles’ shooting and scoring acumen.

Butler may have the chops to eventually fill the role, but lacks the veteran’s size and experience, standing five inches shorter than Ingles, and having played just 22 career games.

Now in light of Ingles injury, the Jazz not only need an additional perimeter defender at the trade deadline they must also decide how best to replace the veteran guard’s multifaceted offensive game.

The news isn’t all bad for the Jazz, however, as veteran Danuel House Jr. has exceeded expectations during his trio of 10-day contracts with the team and looks like a realistic option to provide some of the shooting and defense the team needed to add before the trade deadline.

And, though Ingles is injured, the Jazz can still trade him to a team that wants his expiring contract but didn’t want to add another player to their rotation. If paired with a future draft pick, Ingles contract is still a valuable asset ahead of the trade deadline.

But for a team that was hoping to stop the bleeding after a disastrous January showing, losing Ingles for the season only complicates their issues further.

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