SPORTS

Low-Cost Free Agency Options For The Utah Jazz

Jun 28, 2024, 5:09 PM | Updated: Jun 29, 2024, 3:46 pm

Tobias Harris #33 of the Philadelphia 76ers(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)...

Tobias Harris #33 of the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY –  NBA Free Agency begins on Sunday at 4 PM MDT and the Utah Jazz could be one of the league’s major players.

Armed with upwards of $35 million in salary cap space, the Jazz have the ability to chase any free agent on the market, or absorb players in a trade without sending matching salary back.

Danny Ainge said the Jazz were big-game hunting this summer, but without a list of truly elite players to hit free agency, the team will likely aim lower to fill out their roster.

Why Are Jazz Unlikely To Sign High-Priced Free Agent?

Though the Jazz are armed with enough salary to sign a player to a near-max contract, they are unlikely to be in the running for top-tier free agents (Paul George)who are looking for both long-term contracts, and an opportunity to win a title.

The Jazz aren’t particularly close to championship contention, and at this point in their rebuild, may not want to commit too much salary to one player, hindering their flexibility down the line.

Additionally, the Jazz are unlikely to commit all their salary cap spending on a true free agent. By retaining at least a portion of their cap space, they can use that money to renegotiate All-Star Lauri Markkanen’s $18 million salary next season, enticing the forward to sign a long-term extension in August.

Potential Jazz Free Agency Targets

Assuming the Jazz shave off at least $15 million for a Markkanen extension, let’s look at free agents who could be signed to deals beginning in the $20-25 million range, starting with players on the high-end, and working towards lower-cost contracts.

1. Isaiah Hartenstein – Center

Though Hartenstein may wind up exceeding our $25 million limit, he’s the free agent that could have the biggest impact on the Jazz’s win total next season.

Hartenstein was a darkhorse Defensive Player of the Year candidate last season and helped anchor the New York Knicks’ dominant defense throughout the regular season.

This is what Jazz head coach Will Hardy had to say about Hartenstein last season.

“I don’t know how much he’s talked about––but watching him on film, his value is unbelievable.”

Fans may balk at the idea of giving a center with worse averages than Walker Kessler $100 million over four years, but if the Jazz don’t do it, another team will.

Other Centers: Drew Eubanks, Precious Achiuwa, Jalen Smith

2. Tobias Harris – Forward

Though he’ll turn 32 before the season begins, making him a bit of an awkward fit with the Jazz’s current timeline, Tobias Harris is likely among the highest caliber players the organization could add this season using just their cap space.

Harris is a veteran scorer with the ability to space the floor on offense while offering versatility on the defensive end.

Like existing Jazz forward John Collins, Harris has always been a better player in theory than his actual production, but he would have value at the right price point.

Other Forwards: , Dario Saric, Doug McDermott

3. Tyus Jones – Point Guard

The Jazz have a deep backcourt already, and adding Isaiah Collier in the draft did little to alleviate that log jam.

However, both Collier and 2023-24 All-Rookie guard Keyonte Geroge are turnover-prone, and having a guard who can simply help the Jazz get into their offense while taking the pressure off Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson as playmakers would be beneficial.

Jones likely isn’t the long-term solution for the Jazz at starting point guard, but he’d provide a level of stability the Jazz haven’t had since Mike Conly was traded in February of 2023, and at just 28 years old, he’s not way outside of the organization’s current timeline.

Other Point Guards: Markelle Fultz, Monte Morris

4. Saddiq Bey – SG/SF

Saddiq Bey suffered a torn ACL for the Atlanta Hawks last season after seeing his shooting numbers dip from the previous year.

It was an unfortunate break for the wing who had quietly played well in Detroit over the first three seasons of his career.

Bey is a solid shooter at 35 percent from three, and an excellent rebounder at over 4.5 per game every year of his career.

At just 25 years old, he fits both a need for the Jazz, and their current timeline.

Other 3-and-D Wings: Isaac Okoro, Taurean Prince

5. Kyle Anderson – Veteran Leader

Kyle Anderson wouldn’t be a major needle mover for the Jazz’s on-court product, but for a team that lacked experience, leadership, and overall basketball IQ last season, he would check several boxes.

Anderson isn’t a terrific floor spacer, he’s probably only good for 20 minutes a night, and fans would regularly question why he was getting time on the court over some of the Jazz’s younger players.

However, the Jazz could use another adult in the room to help carry Will Hardy’s vision onto the court, and he likely wouldn’t break the bank.

One additional upside to Anderson is he may retain some value at the trade deadline for a contender looking for a versatile veteran ahead of their playoff push.

Other Savvy Veterans: Nic Batum, Gary Harris

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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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Low-Cost Free Agency Options For The Utah Jazz