Updates on two reported Utah Jazz targets — namely, Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic — on the eve of the NBA’s free agent frenzy.
NBA free agency has yet to officially tip-off, but the action is already well underway. Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker are each reportedly set to sign five-year, $141-million deals with the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics, respectively. And in the Utah Jazz’s neck of the woods, one potential target looks to be off the market while another is expected to meet with the team.
The former is Nikola Mirotic, who has been linked to the Jazz on more than one occasion over the years. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the 28-year-old will eschew a big-money deal in the Association to return to EuroLeague and the Liga ACB with Barcelona.
As a 6-foot-10 big man who has averaged over 15 points per game and shot 37 percent from 3-point range over the last two years with the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans and Milwaukee Bucks, many had considered Mirotic a prime target to replace Derrick Favors if the Jazz decided to move on from him.
Going one step further, however, reports have indicated that the Jazz were actually prepared to offer him a deal. The New York Times’ Marc Stein added that the Jazz were looking to tender a three-year contract offer in the area of $45 million, per his sources.
While Mirotic looks to be off the table for the Jazz, his former teammate with the Chicago Bulls (and guy who once broke his face in a fistfight) Bobby Portis is looking more and more like a real consideration for the team.
The Athletic’s Tony Jones reported on Saturday that Portis is expected to meet with the Jazz once free agency starts.
Portis is coming off a career year split between the Bulls and the Washington Wizards. In 50 games played, he averaged 14 points, eight boards and knocked down 39 percent of his 3-point attempts.
As a possible future Jazzman, his burgeoning offensive skillset and age/timeline (he’s 24 years old) could fit well with the team. However, there are big-time questions about his defense and I, for one, tend to have a level of skepticism on players who put up big numbers for teams with nothing to play for.
He may ultimately just be a bench piece on a good team.
Still, there’s also a chance Portis ends up being a free agent you sign on their way up, a la Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur back in 2004, and you get rewarded for gambling on the open market. Does that mean Portis is a future All-Star? Maybe, maybe not, but even cynical me is intrigued by aspects of his game.
He shown an ability to light up the scoreboard at times. And 6-foot-10 players with 7-foot-10 wingspans, a soft touch on their jumpers and an ability to run the floor don’t grow on trees.
Of course, for the Jazz to sign anybody of this ilk, they’d have to let Favors walk, and there’s no guarantee that happens. At this point, he’s practically an institution in Jazzland.
However, if the reports coming out about Mirotic, Portis, Thaddeus Young, etc., have any validity at all, it would seem they’re leaning in that direction.
Free agency opens on Sunday at 4 PM MT.