Jazz doesn’t need to make a splash. They must play it safe | Opinion

Mostly, I’m a person who likes to take as little risk as possible. I like to have a plan, I’m not very spontaneous and I prefer when I can easily predict an outcome. There’s a good chance you’re thinking I need to lighten up a bit, and that’s probably fair. But I truly believe the Utah Jazz would be wise to take a page out of my book this offseason.

The NBA’s free agent period opens today, and there’s no need to beat around the bush about this — this free agent class stinks.

There are a few top-tier players available, but none that really make sense for the Jazz, and there aren’t many players in the price range the Jazz would be looking at that are really worth giving long-term contracts to.

After the Jazz drafted Taylor Hendricks, Keyonte George and Brice Sensabaugh, it was clear they were banking on their internal development program and hoping for future upside.

With the team fully guaranteeing Kelly Olynyk’s contract for the upcoming season and having Jordan Clarkson, Talen Horton-Tucker and Damian Jones all exercise their player options, it was clear that they wouldn’t be working with as much cap space this summer as they was the case. originally expected, and that the roster is going to be quite full.

And when the Jazz made a deal with the Atlanta Hawks to acquire John Collins in exchange for Rudy Gay and a future second-rounder, it was clear they intended to enter the 2023-24 season hoping for more success than they had last year.

With all that in mind, I think patience and making small moves rather than taking big swings and pushing all their chips is the best course of action.

Free agent class of 2023

Let’s face it – the Jazz have never been a sensational free-agent destination. They’re less likely to lure the biggest names to Utah, and with Clarkson and Horton-Tucker entering the final year of their deals, the Jazz will have less than $15 million to work with should the roster stay close to what it is Today.

That would mean the Jazz would work around players like Dennis Smith Jr., Gabe Vincent, Aaron Holiday, Caris LeVert, Josh Richardson, Kelly Oubre, Max Strus, Kyle Kuzma and Dwight Powell.

There are certainly names on that roster that would be understandable additions if the Jazz were looking to boost their roster as they make a real run at a title. But as a team still looking to make some progress in the development department, it would feel a little counterintuitive to bring in a free agent who would take minutes away from one of the Jazz’s younger players.

Now, there are certainly names not on the above list that will command a bigger salary, and the Jazz could do the guard and massage to get a bigger free agent. But unless they’re confident a player is part of their long-term plans, I don’t see a reason to spend the money this season just to do it.

A season of discovery

I know last season was a season of discovery and the Jazz discovered a lot about their young core and how successful they have the potential to be. But this year should be a different kind of discovery season — one where the Jazz figure out what they have and what they need.

With Lauri Markkanen leading the way and the rapid growth of Walker Kessler and Ochai Agbaji, as well as some surrounding players who are incredibly helpful, it’s easy to convince yourself that the Jazz are closer to contending than they really are.

However, the Jazz roster is still in its infancy when it comes to continuity and familiarity. There are still holes in the roster and questions about rotations that need to be answered. There are young players who must be given the chance to either succeed or fail. It is much more difficult to evaluate the state of a team if there are major changes along the way.

Of course, I think if the Jazz feel a deal is right and a player can help them on their journey through this rebuilding process, then they should absolutely sign him. But I also believe that the Jazz need to see if the success of Markkanen, Kessler and Agbaji is sustainable and genuine.

The Jazz must decide who will play point guard. Will they continue to experiment with Horton-Tucker and Sexton and Kris Dunn? Will they let George handle the case? If not, will they try to flip Horton-Tucker or anyone else on the roster for something more? And if so, don’t they need to show them off a bit so they can get maximum value for the players in a deal?

We don’t know what the frontcourt rotations will be like with Olynyk, Hendricks, Collins, Kessler, Jones and anyone else, and we don’t even know if Collins will be able to work this roster.

There are so many unknowns already currently on the roster, and with the free agent class feeling a little weak this year, it might be worth holding back to see what the Jazz actually have and how far away the list is from being a legitimate candidate. .

Uses assets wisely

The Jazz didn’t fill the lockers with young players, negotiable contracts and a mountain of future draft picks just so they can make big free agent swings that could change their flexibility in the future.

The whole reason they started this rebuild and did it with flexibility, capital and assets is that they are able to make big and impactful changes when the time is right.

Again, I’d say if the Jazz see a deal that’s right, they should move, and they will. But patience and pragmatism are the way to go.

It could be that the Jazz choose to stay relatively quiet in the free agent market and instead make some trades that set them up to be in a better position over the next few years. That’s the kind of move I’d like to see the Jazz make.

I know I could be wrong here and I know my approach sounds boring. Making big offseason moves is much more flashy and exciting. However, timing is everything. And I think right now is the time to maybe play things a little safe.

Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik and head coach Will Hardy sit together during a Summer League game between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, July 5, 2022.

Spencer Heaps, Deseret News

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