Utah Jazz Mailbag: Will Jazz Buy Or Sell At Trade Deadline?

Jan 16, 2024, 3:55 PM | Updated: 6:07 pm


Kelly Olynyk #41 of the Utah Jazz handles the ball during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on December 17, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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.

Jazz Mailbag: Are The Jazz Buyers Or Sellers?

Question: Should the Jazz be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline!?

A: Josh, thank you for the submissions, and I will start with your second question first.

The Jazz’s recent hot streak has certainly made this a more difficult conversation than if they’d remained 10 games below .500 and out of the playoff conversation entirely.

At that point, the Jazz likely would have felt forced to sell, especially with someone like Kelly Olynyk who would have value for other teams in the playoff race, and would clear room for Taylor Hendricks to see the floor over the second half of the season.

However, the Jazz have continued to assign Hendricks to the Salt Lake City Stars, hinting that they may value wins over youth development, at least for now.

Now, I did have an extended conversation with a well-informed individual who told me that the Jazz’s long-term focus remains winning playoff series.

That is the goal for Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik, and everything else is mostly noise.

To me, that means that simply qualifying for the play-in tournament is not a bar the Jazz front office cares about in the slightest, nor is it the measuring stick the franchise is holding itself to.

If the Jazz wanted to simply compete for the playoffs, they could have kept Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and saved themselves the trouble of making those blockbuster trades last season.

Instead, they made those franchise-altering moves intending to bring a title to Utah.

Furthermore, I was told the decision-makers know they won’t “tip-toe their way to a championship,” meaning, the Jazz won’t fall backward into a title, and they’ll have to “kick down the door” to finally push themselves over the top.

In my opinion, that means bringing superstar talent to Utah remains the top priority, regardless of their recent success.

That’s not to say that they haven’t drawn anything from the last month of superb play, or that their opinions on certain players haven’t shifted over the last 20 games, but big picture, the Jazz know they need elite players to win a title, and the question becomes, who on the roster fits that description?

I suspect we’ll have a clearer view of that by the trade deadline, and an even better understanding this upcoming offseason.

But from what I’ve learned, Jazz fans shouldn’t use the play-in tournament this season as the only measuring stick for success, because the organization remains focused on the bigger picture.

Q: Do you think Keyonte defers too much to Jordan Clarkson at times?

A: I don’t think Keyonte George defers to Jordan Clarkson too often, as George’s shooting percentages remain underwhelming, while Clarkson’s have climbed since moving to the second unit.

George’s willingness to be a ball-mover regardless of who he shares the floor with is a positive sign for his growth, and will only benefit him and the Jazz going forward.

I do think he tends to default to his three-point shot at times, despite shooting just 32 percent, but the Jazz coaching staff has also asked George to shoot the off-the-dribble three because of how it changes the opposing defense’s pickup points.

His growth as a scorer inside the three-point arc has been promising where he’s shooting an improved 41 percent since December 1.

Question: With the way that Collin Sexton is playing, is he getting close to having the “untouchable” status during the trade deadline?

A: Simply put, I don’t see anyone as being untouchable for the Jazz at the trade deadline, that includes Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen, but that doesn’t mean their asking price wouldn’t be enormously high.

And, considering both Sexton and Markkanen have such team-friendly deals, the Jazz should ask for the moon in any trade package.

However, it would be ignorant to think that the perspective on Sexton hasn’t changed in light of his recent development.

Since moving into the starting lineup, the guard is averaging 21.9 points, 4.8 assists, and 2.6 rebounds with 50/40/90 shooting splits over the last month.

Essentially, he’s taken his best year in Cleveland and refined it to fit on a winning team’s roster. That means All-Star-level production on a playoff-caliber team. Isn’t that what every franchise wants in their backcourt?

Before Monday’s win over the Indiana Pacers, Jazz coach Will Hardy had an extended discussion about Sexton that I thought was very enlightening, and here are some pieces from the transcript to help paint a more accurate picture.

“I think he’s he’s one of the most endearing players I’ve ever been around because of his effort every day and his attitude every day. I think there was a lot of narrative about Collin when he was first traded here as somebody who scored a lot in Cleveland, but wasn’t on winning teams.”

Hardy continued…

“I needed to take Collin at face value and just go ‘Hey, whatever happened before he got to Utah means nothing to me.’ And how has he been with me every day? How has he been with our team every day? And he’s always done everything that I’ve asked.

He’s never complained, he has never come to my office and asked for more playing time. He has never asked for more shots. He’s never questioned what we were doing. He just continues to work every day. He takes coaching — he lets me coach him very hard.”

Hardy’s Final Take Away On Sexton…

“I’ve learned a lot about coaching through dealing with Collin because I think he was somebody that really came in with a lot of narrative around the type of player that he is, and I probably let that impact me too much last year.

But you know, he’s somebody that has shown me that you don’t need to listen to any of that at all. You need to just take people at face value for how they are when they get here and what they do when they’re with our team. And he’s a big reason why we’re playing well right now. He’s, his energy is infectious on both ends of the floor. He’s a heck of a player and we’re lucky to have him.”

So, if you take Hardy’s word, despite some difficult moments over the last year and a half, Sexton has been an important piece in the Jazz’s recent success, and I’d bet they keep him around.

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 above) where we answered 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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Utah Jazz Mailbag: Will Jazz Buy Or Sell At Trade Deadline?