UTAH JAZZ

Utah Jazz Mailbag: Can Jazz Move Up In This Draft?

Jun 4, 2024, 3:55 PM

Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz drives into Jeremy Sochan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs...

Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz drives into Jeremy Sochan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/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.

Questions: I’ve seen the rumors about combining the 10th and 29th picks to trade for a star or maybe move up. Of course, it takes two to tango. Are you aware of any other teams that are in a situation where a trade like that would make sense?

Answer: Jared, thank you for the question, and I will tackle it in two parts.

First, let’s talk about acquiring a star.

Unfortunately for the Jazz, they again had rotten luck in the draft lottery, and fell from the eighth pick to the tenth. Though this isn’t widely regarded as one of the better drafts in recent memory, the odds of trading for a star using draft capital alone would have likely increased had the Jazz seen the same lottery luck as either the Atlanta Hawks or Houston Rockets (via the Brooklyn Nets) moving into the top three picks.

In that scenario, it’s not implausible to see how the Jazz could have packaged a high-lottery pick with any combination of salaries on their roster to make a compelling trade offer.

However, with the pick slipping to tenth, the potential packages don’t carry the same oomph.

Second, let’s explore the Jazz’s options to trade up.

Understanding that with the massive amount of future draft capital the team owns they could realistically trade up to the top overall pick if they so desired, let’s focus only on how high they could climb using this year’s 10th, 29th, and 32nd picks.

Traditionally, teams have been able to move up a spot or two in the lottery using a late first, or early second-round pick, when the team ahead of them trading back recognizes the player they desire will still be on the board and can add an additional future asset at no cost.

For example, last summer the Indiana Pacers traded the seventh pick in the draft to the Washington Wizards for the eighth pick and two future second-rounders.

Applying that logic to this year’s draft, the Jazz could potentially move from the 10th pick up to the ninth pick in a swap with the Memphis Grizzlies, or even the San Antonio Spurs who own the eighth pick, depending on which of the 29th and 32nd picks they’re willing to include.

However, this is where it gets difficult.

The young Spurs already own both the fourth and eighth pick in this year’s draft. With Victor Wembanyama showing he’s ready to win at a high level now, San Antonio likely doesn’t want to trade back in the draft to acquire more picks, and thus more youth in need of development.

The Portland Trail Blazers owning the seventh pick and the 14th pick are in a similar boat, on a roster already loaded with youth.

That leaves the Charlotte Hornets who own the sixth pick and the Detroit Pistons who own the fifth pick as the Jazz’s best trade partners if they are looking to move up, but as previously laid out, packing 10, 29, and 32 likely isn’t enough to climb five spots in the lottery without adding other young talent.

While I wouldn’t rule out the Jazz aggressively trying to move up in the draft, there aren’t a ton of logical trade partners this summer.

Question: 1. What are we to believe the Jazz FO’s plan will be this year after the half-tank seasons the past two years?

2. Could the Jazz convince Lauri to endure one more year of tanking to obtain a high draft pick, especially with such a star-heavy draft?

Answer: Danny Ainge laid out the clearest plan to date for the Jazz’s immediate future when he spoke to the media in April.

“Our mindset is that we’re doing only [what we can] to try to win, that’s our only objective until we get to July,” Ainge said. “If we don’t land anything, we don’t make any deals, we don’t land anything, then our direction could change at that moment and [we will] wait until the next time we can try to build a roster.”

I believe the Jazz front office wants to add big-name players to the roster in hopes of significantly improving next year, but won’t hamstring the future of the team by acquiring players just to shake up the status quo.

And, if those types of needle-moving players don’t become available, the Jazz will be patient once again focusing on developing their youth, and being opportunistic in trade talks during the season.

Related: How Can The Jazz Structure A Markkanen Extension?

That naturally leads to your second question about Lauri Markkanen’s willingness to endure another year of development, likely at the cost of making the playoffs.

Markkanen has repeatedly stated that he wants to win in the NBA, and doesn’t pass on opportunities to mention that he’s never been to the postseason.

However, he also said he recognizes his role in the Jazz’s rebuild, and that it’s his job to improve in order to expedite the team’s timeline.

Ultimately, I suspect Markkanen will sign a contract extension this summer, signaling he’s comfortable with the Jazz’s timeline regardless of whether they make drastic improvements on the court next season.

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

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports.
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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: Can Jazz Move Up In This Draft?