UTAH JAZZ

With Trade Deadline Looming, Jazz Looking Long Term

Jan 9, 2023, 3:33 PM | Updated: Jan 13, 2023, 3:40 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The NBA Trade deadline is fast approaching, and after Sunday’s loss, the Utah Jazz now sit on the outside of the Western Conference Playoffs looking in.

With the trade deadline looming, Jazz owner, Ryan Smith talked to Hans Olsen and Scott Garrard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone about the team’s plans over the next month, and into the future.

You can listen to Smith’s full interview in the player below.

Jazz Taking Long-Term Approach At Trade Deadline

The Jazz have been one of the most speculated-about teams in the NBA this season after trading Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale, and Bojan Bogdanovic during the offseason.

Would the team continue dismantling the roster in hopes of chasing Victor Wembanyama? Or after their surprising 10-3 start, would they make an impromptu push for the playoffs?

Despite sitting in the 12th seed in the West with 39 games left to play, don’t expect the Jazz to start purposely losing games.

“I think there’s a lot of people that don’t think that we want to win, we want to win every game,” Smith said. “That’s just who we are. It’s not in our DNA to think anything different.”

The Jazz are just 10-20 since their hot start, but own the second-best Net Rating among teams that currently sit below .500 in the standings. That means that even with their recent string of losses, they haven’t made a routine of getting blown out in games.

Opponents have beaten the Jazz by double-digits only five times this season, with only two losses coming by more than 20 points.

“I think we’ve had more close games than anyone in the league,” Smith said, “and it’s a testament to [coach Will Hardy], it’s a testament to the guys, it’s a testament to the vets and that’s what people want to see every night.”

But while the Jazz have exceeded expectations, Smith didn’t rule out the team making changes to the roster.

“We’re definitely thinking long term, we’re looking at it to be opportunistic as always,” Smith said. “I think we were opportunistic throughout this process.”

Much of that decision-making will fall on the shoulders of Justin Zanik and Danny Ainge who orchestrated the numerous trades to reshape the franchise last summer.

“That’s going to be a decision for Danny and [Zanik] to be able to look and say, ‘Hey, can we get better? How do we prepare now while also focusing on Team 49?'”

RELATED from Denver Sports: Denver Nuggets impress in NBA.com’s midseason media survey

Jazz Keeping Eye On Draft

Though the trade deadline is in the immediate future, the Jazz haven’t lost focus of the 2023 NBA Draft.

The Jazz will have three first-round picks in June to improve the roster. While some have advocated for tanking games to improve the team’s draft stock, Smith said the Jazz have taken a different approach.

“What’s probably most important is how well we draft as opposed to where we draft,” Smith said. “I know that’s what Danny is focused on.”

If the draft were set today, the Jazz would own the ninth pick, the 14th pick via the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the 29th pick via the Brooklyn Nets.

“We’re attacking it as well as we can but I truly believe that it’s what we do with these picks as much as it [are we picking] two or one or three?” Smith said. “But I mean, don’t get me wrong, Wembanyama looks pretty sweet.”

Between the 2022 and 2029 drafts the Jazz own 14 first-round picks outright, and a 15th depending on where they finish in the standings between 2024-2026 (Derrick Favors, Oklahoma City).

The team also owns draft swaps with the Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers in 2026, and an additional pick swap with Minnesota in 2028.

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With Trade Deadline Looming, Jazz Looking Long Term