Riding the wave of a 6 game winning streak, the Utah Jazz are rounding into form. Much like last year, it looks like they could end the season on a tear. Despite the success, seeking ways to improve is a process that should never stop. As the trade deadline looms, where do the Jazz still have weaknesses?
According to our BBall Index player talent grades, the Jazz as a whole rank as the 20th best team in perimeter shooting. That’s not surprising given their 3 point percentage of 34.6%, tying them for 22nd overall. Despite having 2 of the better shooters in the league in Kyle Korver and Joe Ingles, they can can struggle hitting outside shots. It would be ideal to get more shooting from the bigs, but any way to add some shooting could be a significant help.
Outside of Donovan Mitchell and Dante Exum (for a couple weeks there), Utah also doesn’t have much one on one play or go-to scoring. They rank 27th overall according to our talent grades. This becomes especially evident at the end of the shot clock when Donovan is thrown the ball and asked to create something out of nothing. That hasn’t been very successful so far this year because he’s put in such terrible positions so far away from the basket. The second pressing need and another good trade target would be a reliable scorer.
With those weaknesses in mind, here’s an initial list of potential trade targets the Jazz could look at. They could help fill one roll or the other, with a couple that might help both areas. This list isn’t meant to be all-inclusive, but I think it’s a good starting point.
- Otto Porter
- Kevin Love
- Kemba Walker
- Mike Conley
- Danilo Gallinari
- Tim Hardaway Jr.
- Jeremy Lamb
- Terrence Ross
- Kent Bazemore
- Jeremy Lin
- Wes Matthews
- Wayne Ellington
- Goran Dragic
- Tony Snell
- Dennis Smith Jr.
- Michael Kidd Gilchrist
This includes anything from current stars to role players to long term projects. Obviously the biggest names on the list are the most attractive. Kevin Love has long been wanted by many Jazz fans, but what about that his injury history? Kemba Walker would be amazing next to Donovan Mitchell, but MJ seems desperate to make the playoffs. Porter’s probably the one I’d want the most, but the Wizards are committed to being the 8th seed in the East. I just don’t see some of them as realistic options to trade for. Here are 5 guys I find as more obtainable yet good fits for the Jazz.
Tony Snell, SG/SF Milwaukee Bucks
Tony Snell is putting together his best per-36 season of his career. He won’t wow you with his production, but he’s a knockdown three point shooter (A grade) hitting at nearly a 40% clip and a great perimeter defender (B grade). Snell could provide the Jazz with another solid 3 and D rotational wing, something you can never have enough of. He grades out as a good one-on-one player as well despite his lower volume, and could fill a nice role for Utah. At 11.5 million a year, he’s a little overpaid. But that’s what makes him so available. The Bucks want to bring Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, and Malcolm Brogdon back if they can. I’m not confident they accomplish that with Snell still on the books. The Bucks also have poor interior defense and post play, so the Jazz have a pretty good trade partner in Derrick Favors. I don’t think Snell moves the needle enough for Dennis Lindsey to pull the trigger, but he’s an option to consider. If the Jazz could take Malcolm Brogdon off their hands, however, that would be more intriguing to me.
Terrence Ross, SG/SF Orlando Magic
Is Terrence Ross actually available? I have no idea, because the Eastern Conference can’t decide who is going to fight for the playoffs and who will fade into the lottery. If the Magic find themselves on the outside looking in within the next couple weeks, Ross is a good trade candidate for them. He’s shooting well from outside and is a decent playmaker on the wing. At the age of 27, he also fits the Donovan Mitchell-Rudy Gobert timeline pretty well, and could be a solid role player moving forward. The Jazz could use a young, athletic wing to pair with their core. If it doesn’t work out, he’s on the last year of his contract. The Magic are reportedly looking for help at point guard, so Utah could make a bold decision to move on from Ricky Rubio, given Mitchell’s success at PG the past couple weeks.
Tim Hardaway Jr., SG New York Knicks
At about 18 million per season for the next 3 years (player option on last year), he’s definitely overpaid. But his production this year can’t be denied. In an offense with very limited weapons, he’s producing nearly 20 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. His efficiency is certainly in question with only a 53.3 TS%, but how would he look in a better scheme with better teammates in Utah? Overall he grades out as an A- one on one player, so he could give Utah’s offense a boost. Would that boost be worth limiting the free agent options in the summer? That’s certainly up for debate. Personally, I’m not convinced the Jazz will make the splash that they are hoping to and that adding a guy via trade is likely the better route. I could potential convince myself that Tim Hardaway Jr. could be that guy.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF/PF Charlotte Hornets
A severe early injury derailed a very promising start to Kidd-Gilchrist’s career. The former #2 overall pick was once a focal point of a Hornets rebuild, but now he finds himself as a backup wing. A change of scenery could do wonders for someone with his athletic gifts. His terrific defense would certainly fit Utah’s M/O. He’s got decent talent at creating his own shot as well. Unfortunately he won’t provide that perimeter shooting boost Utah needs, although he is shooting nearly 35% from 3 this year. As mentioned previously, I think Charlotte really want to make the playoffs this year. They might be willing to move a player like Kidd-Gilchrist if it means minor to moderate improvements elsewhere on the roster. Could the Jazz get them to throw in a younger piece like Malik Monk as well? Or come away with a 1st round draft pick?
Mike Conley, PG Memphis Grizzlies
If you are surprised to see Mike Conley on this list, so was I initially. He’s a player I’ve coveted and respected for some time. With the Grizzlies now in a tailspin, I would not be at all shocked to see them enter fire sale mode at the deadline. Yes he makes 32.5 and 34.5 (player option) for the next 2 years. That is very difficult to swallow. But even in his season back from an achilles injury, he would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio in production and fit.
He comfortably provides more perimeter shooting and shot creation than Rubio. Because his contract is as big as it is, I don’t think it would take much to get him. The Grizzlies are likely just looking for salary cap relief and/or some younger talent to put next to Jaren Jackson Jr. This removes Jazz from contention for FA’s in the summer, but again what are the chances they get someone to sign in the first place? Plus, his contract would expire at the right time to give Donovan Mitchell a significant raise and extension.
Dennis Lindsey and co. have some very difficult decisions ahead of them regarding this roster. Their fit isn’t ideal but the production is solid. Who could they add to give them the edge in a first and (hopefully) second round playoff series? Should they be thinking short term gain or long term improvements? Is there a third star that might be available to slot next to Rudy and Donovan? Do you have to trade for them now or risk it in free agency? In the end, I’m just glad I’m not the one making these decisions.