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Utah’s Retooling to Come From Nearly Every Offseason Facet

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It’s that time again, the NBA offseason is in full swing. With the new amended CBA approved, trade moratorium lifted, draft day upon us, and free agency approaching, big moves are ahead for teams around the league. For the Utah Jazz, it’s time to make some critical decisions about the team’s core going forward. Here is everything you need to know headed into one of the most important offseasons in franchise history.

Expiring Contracts

On Thursday, veteran guard Mike Conley chose not to exercise his early termination option. That means electing to return for a second season with the Jazz. That leaves Jordan Clarkson, Emmanuel Mudiay and Juwan Morgan as the only outgoing free agents on the team. Clarkson proved to be a fantastic acquisition in a short audition last season, averaging 15.6 PPG on 46.2% shooting. Re-signing the 28-year-old guard will be a top priority in the coming weeks.

Rookie forward Juwan Morgan impressed in limited minutes last season, touting toughness on the defensive end and the ability to stretch the floor offensively. The franchise will certainly work to bring Morgan back as a cheap fringe rotation player. As for Mudiay, his future with the Jazz remains unclear. He failed to have the breakout season in Utah that many had hoped for, and a change of scenery may be beneficial.

 

The Curious Case of Rudy Gobert

Perhaps the most critical decision to be made is that of Rudy Gobert’s future in Utah. The all-NBA center is eligible to sign a supermax extension worth over $225 million through 2027. On one hand, the analytics say that Gobert is a top-20 player in the league.

On the other, critics claim that Gobert is the last of a dying breed of NBA bigmen, and is neutralized by small ball. Add in a reported rift between Gobert and franchise cornerstone Donovan Mitchell, and you have a seriously confusing decision to make. Will the front office choose to explore a trade with Brooklyn, Boston, Golden State or another suitor? Will the two parties agree to an extension, or let this season play out without doing so? Only time will tell.

Free Agent Targets

Depth was certainly a point of concern for the Jazz in 2020. Ranking 27th in bench efficiency and 24th in bench scoring last season, the Jazz should look to add some firepower. With limited cap space, the Jazz will look to use the mid-level exception of $9.76 million to sign a high-level rotation player or two cheaper rotation players. Keep an eye on the following players as potential targets:

  • Derrick Favors– A reunion makes a lot of sense for both Favors and the Jazz. The Jazz struggled badly in minutes without Rudy Gobert on the floor in 2019-2020. This was partly due to the play of Tony Bradley and Ed Davis, who were uninspiring to say the least. Utah was home to Favors for nine years, and fans would be ecstatic to have him back. With the supersized Los Angeles Lakers at the top of the West, Favors could help to alleviate mismatches in a potential playoff matchup.
  • Bismack Biyombo– Biyombo is another option to backup Gobert at the 5. The 6’9″ center has spent most of his career on non-competitive Eastern Conference teams, and may be flying a bit under the radar. Biyombo is a defensive-minded player that could learn a lot from Gobert and company.
  • Kris Dunn- In a surprising move, the Chicago Bulls will not extend a qualifying offer to the 26-year-old guard out of Providence. Now, as an unrestricted free agent, Dunn will command a lot of attention as an elite defender. At 6’3″, Dunn is capable of guarding multiple positions and causing problems for opposing offenses. With a career average of 1.5 steals per game, Dunn brings the hustle and toughness that every championship team needs.
  • Langston Galloway– Galloway is coming off a solid 2020 campaign in Detroit, averaging 10.3 PPG, 1.5 APG and 0.7 SPG on 39.9% three-point shooting. In the event that the Jazz are unable to re-sign Clarkson, Galloway may be a solid alternative.
  • Andre Roberson– Roberson made his triumphant return to basketball in the Orlando Bubble after being sidelined for over 2 years. He is a versatile wing defender and experienced playoff competitor, which is exactly what the Jazz are looking for in a rotation player. Questions about Roberson’s horrendous three point shooting (25.5%) and durability may knock his free agency value. Watch out for Roberson when money gets tight around the league.

Draft Day

In a year where almost nothing has played out normally, the 2020 NBA Draft is poised to be one of the most sporadic and unpredictable drafts in years. Due to limited scouting, no NCAA tournament, and reduced draft workouts and interviews, there will be a lot of guessing this year. This tends to favor teams in the back half of the first round. The Jazz need to hunt value with the 27th and 38th picks, whether it be in a pair of solid prospects or in a trade.

Vice President of Basketball Operations Dennis Lindsey doesn’t shy away from trading up, down or out of the draft. Remember that both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were acquired in draft-day trades (thanks Denver). Lindsey already made a splash by flipping the 23rd pick to the Knicks in exchange for #27 and #38. If the Jazz decide to keep #27, expect them to select a prospect that is ready to compete right away.

Keep an eye on prospects like Tre Jones, Peyton Pritchard and Josh Green. It’s worth noting that Green is one of the top 3-and-D prospects in this class. Utah must be eyeing a particular prospect to select with the newly acquired 38th pick. Another trade could be in the works involving the newfound draft asset as well.

Tonight’s draft is the first step in retooling this Jazz team in order to contend in the West. With a bright coaching staff and front office, fans should feel confident going into the heart of the offseason.

Follow us on Twitter @JazzLead for the latest Jazz news and insight.

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