Jazz Mailbag: What Will The Trade Deadline Look Like?

Jan 9, 2024, 3:55 PM

Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik and Jazz CEO Danny Ainge laugh during a press conference at ...

Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik and Jazz CEO Danny Ainge laugh during a press conference at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus (Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Welcome to the Utah Jazz mailbag where every week our NBA insiders answer your questions on social media about your favorite team.

Each week we will send out a prompt on KSL Sports ThreadsInstagramX, and Facebook pages asking for the questions you have about the Jazz.

Then, we’ll respond to as many as we can in that week’s mailbag.

Mailbag: What Does Jazz Trade Deadline Look Like?

Question: What does Ainge/Zanik need to do over the next month before the trade deadline hits?

A: James, thank you for the question, this was by far the most common question we got in this week’s mailbag, and with the trade deadline officially less than a month away (February 8), let’s look at where the Jazz stand.

Let me first say this, no team is better positioned ahead of the trade deadline than the Jazz.

If the Jazz want to make a trade, they can.

If the Jazz want to stand pat, they can.

If the Jazz want to make a big trade, they can.

If the Jazz want to make a small trade, they can.

If the Jazz want to trade picks, they can.

If the Jazz want to acquire picks, they can.

If the Jazz want to get older, they can.

If the Jazz want to get younger, they can.

If the Jazz want to buy, they can.

If the Jazz want to sell, they can.

If the Jazz want to offload salary, they can.

If the Jazz want to acquire salary, they can.

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Essentially, the only thing the Jazz can’t do is guarantee themselves the ability to acquire a superstar at the trade deadline, and that’s only because it takes two teams to tango.

If a star becomes available in the next 30 days, the Jazz can make a very compelling offer to land them.

That’s great work from Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik, and should make for an intriguing month for Jazz fans.

But with that versatility, there is really only one thing the Jazz need to focus on at the trade deadline…

Just win, baby.

That doesn’t mean winning on the floor, that means winning any trade that you do make. With so much freedom of movement at the trade deadline, the only thing the Jazz can do wrong is to lose a trade.

That could mean acquiring a long-term contract for a player that doesn’t fit the team’s needs going forward. That could mean overpaying for a player who doesn’t want to be in Utah.

That could mean giving up draft picks before their full value is realized, or that could mean giving up on a young player before they have a chance to find their identity with the Jazz.

So, because the Jazz can do almost anything they want, but don’t have to do anything specific, the only trades they should be interested in are ones that are clear victories for the franchise.

That could be a red paperclip trade, it could be an asset preservation trade, or it could be an asset acquisition trade.

As long as they aren’t shortsighted (a label that nobody has ever given to Ainge) they should be just fine at the trade deadline, whatever they choose to do.

Question: Who do you think is the 2nd best player on the Jazz?

A: Clint, great question, and a good follow-up to last week’s mailbag asking who has been the Jazz MVP.

This is a tough question, to the point where Will Hardy even addressed it last week before a game.

“We could sit here and everybody could fill out a card right now, like hey, rank the guys 1-15 and there would be some variance,” Hardy said. “I imagine Lauri would probably be number one on everybody’s card and then after that, it’s kind of all a little bit subjective.”

Going into the season I would have told you it was Jordan Clarkson, and considering he still very much belongs in this conversation, he’s probably the easiest answer.

Outside of Markkanen, Clarkson is the guy I can point to most regularly and say “The Jazz don’t win that game if he doesn’t have that performance.”

Even on nights when he doesn’t have a great overall box score, he has stretches where he single-handedly keeps the offense afloat when nothing else is working (see the first three minutes of the fourth quarter in Philadelphia on Saturday).

However, Collin Sexton’s run over the last 15 games is the best extended run by any player on the Jazz not named Markkanen.

Sexton is averaging 21.2 points and 4.8 assists while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three and the Jazz are 11-4 since he moved into the starting lineup.

That production is unmatched by anyone else on the Jazz, and he absolutely deserves his flowers.

But, if we’re speaking for the full length of the season, there’s an argument for Kelly Olynyk as the Jazz’s second most consistent player.

The Canadian big man has played all but two games for the Jazz, he’s started, he’s come off the bench, he passes, he scores, he rebounds, and he just helps a team win basketball games.

I think Olynyk, Walker Kessler, and Keyonte George deserve honorable mention, but it’s between Clarkson and Sexton through the halfway point of the season.

Want to ask questions in next week’s mailbag? Give us a follow @kslsports.

If you submitted a question and it didn’t get answered here, listen to this week’s edition of the Jazz Notes podcast (located in the player at the top of this article) where we answer more of your questions.

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Jazz Mailbag: What Will The Trade Deadline Look Like?