The Utah Jazz have been one of the NBA’s most active teams this offseason; dealing for Mike Conley was only the beginning. They may not be done, either.
Say what you will about the LA Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets; there’s a chance that the Utah Jazz are the winners of the offseason. With the Golden State Warriors on the ropes for the time being, Jazz brass has been moving and shaking to the max to propel the team into the title picture.
That said, we won’t really know if bringing Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic and the rest of Utah’s summer haul on-board truly takes the prize until everything has played out on the court. One thing we can say for sure — it’s been the wildest offseason in Jazz history, and there’s a chance we haven’t seen the last move.
As it stands, the Jazz roster sits at 11 players; 12 if you count Georges Niang (non-guaranteed deal), who the Jazz can waive with minimal financial impact before January 10. After his performance last season, though, I expect him to be back. But that still leaves the team with one more spot to fill to get to the minimum of players a team must carry at 13.
That also leaves two additional openings to get to the roster maximum of 15.
In a piece for The Athletic (subscription required), Jazz beat guru Tony Jones indicated that the Jazz are still exploring their options. Without question, that’s the right move.
Now, there’s absolutely a chance that one or all of the team’s second-round picks could come into play here. Jazz VP Dennis Lindsey and GM Justin Zanik didn’t buy multiple picks at the end of the 2019 NBA Draft for kicks; they were looking for players. And Jarrell Brantley, Justin Wright-Foreman and Miye Oni are doing their best to prove themselves.
During the just-completed Salt Lake City Summer League, all three had standout moments. Brantley was the picture of consistency, averaging 13.5 points over two games. Wright-Foreman exploded in Game 2 with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Oni finished strong in the third and final game in SLC with 17 points, six boards and four 3-pointers.
There are also a handful of guys from the team’s G-League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, who could come into play. Frankly, big man Willie Reed is an NBA player, and was unsurprisingly dominant at times this week.
But there are definitely plays to be made on the open market, if the Jazz feel so inclined.
The team could probably use another wing player with scoring ability. And, really, depth pieces at any position could only help; when you have championship aspirations, the deeper your roster the better.
For my part, I really like Corey Brewer. He’s a vet with playoff experience, at 6-9 and 190 he has positional versatility and he has an innate ability to get out and make things happen in transition, a skill not many current Jazzmen have. He also creates chaos on the court with his energy, a la Jae Crowder, DeMarre Carroll and Trevor Booker.
Speaking of the latter, Booker is looking to get back into the league after an injury-hampered year in China. He may be worth taking a flier on as a spark plug and a guy familiar with the Jazz and Coach Quin Snyder’s system.
How about a couple of other veterans, like future Hall of Famer Vince Carter, who probably has one more year in him before retirement or Richard Jefferson, who seemingly wants one more year after taking last season off?
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a young player with a defensive prowess that would be appreciated in Jazzland. He still needs to develop his shooting, and he may command more than the minimum salary the Jazz could offer. He’s only 24, though, and like Jazz signee Emmanuel Mudiay, he could potentially benefit from Utah’s strong developmental program.
Jodie Meeks could be a nice shooter at the end of the bench.
I’m just spit-balling names here, but the point is that the Jazz are still working it. Whether or not something else happens remains to be seen, but if they’re really going all-in on a window of contention, they might as well do it to the max.