Historically, Dennis Lindsey has been pretty involved at the NBA trade deadline. But this year’s deadline came and gone with the Utah Jazz GM deciding to stand pat. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t active.
I’m going to assume that the Jazz had a phone conversation with the Washington Wizards surrounding Otto Porter. Nothing was explicitly reported, but based on Utah’s interest in the SF/PF in the past it would surprise me if that didn’t happen.
I think their valuation of Porter must be very different now than it was two summers ago. Porter wound up in Chicago at a low asking price. It was more of a salary dump than anything, getting a couple of young players in Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis along with a 2nd round pick. Dennis Lindsey must feel better about his chances of landing a bigger difference maker via trade or free agency in the summer because I have a hard time believing the Jazz couldn’t have bested that deal. I trust his opinion and process here.
The New Orleans Pelicans were quite the focus of the trade deadline with their super star Anthony Davis asking out. They didn’t move on from him, but they did trade Mirotic. The Jazz were rumored to be interested in Mirotic at last year’s deadlines, and those rumors spilled over into this year. His fit offensively next to Rudy Gobert is intriguing.
But the Pelicans were asking for a first round pick for a half-season rental of Mirotic. They didn’t get exactly what they wanted, but four second round picks is a lot. Especially when you consider that two of them are from Washington, so those should be in the mid-late 30s at worst. That’s a high asking price that I’m not at all surprised Dennis Lindsey passed on.
The main event. This was the biggest rumor leading up to the 1 pm MST cutoff. The Memphis Grizzlies were reportedly looking to move both of their aging stars in Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Their determination to move Gasol was apparently greater than for Conley, trading him to the Toronto Raptors. They also moved good role players JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple to the LA Clippers. It looked they were going for a complete tear-down and Conley was the last piece of that puzzle.
And then they didn’t. After all of their discussions, with at least two offers on the table (Utah and Detroit), they decided to keep the 31-year-old point guard. Memphis was hoping to maximize the return they’d get on their veteran, which I understand. But to not take the best offer on the table might leave them with worse offers in the summer.
They held out for a first round pick for Tyreke Evans last season and came up empty. He walked during free agency. They also waited too long to trade Marc Gasol, so their return for him was much lower than it would have been a year or more ago. Will they have made the same mistake with Mike Conley? Time will tell, but Dennis Lindsey wouldn’t budge from his final offer. That offer was rumored to be Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors, and a first-round pick. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were willing to toss in a second-rounder as well. I have to believe Lindsey was disappointed Memphis didn’t take the offer.
Jazz stand pat
In the end, Lindsey decided to stay the course. After structuring some contracts to be very tradable at the deadline, he decided against moving any of them. During the summer he decided to bring almost the exact same team back from the season prior. Here at the deadline, he remained firm in that decision.
For me, it was disappointing not to see the ceiling of this team raised. I believe Mike Conley would have raised the ceiling of the Jazz and could have pushed them to the conference finals. If you can just get there, you never know what might happen in a series. Rather than give up too much, however, Utah opted for continuity and flexibility. I understand and appreciate that.
But I will have higher expectations for June and July. Rudy Gobert is in his prime and Donovan Mitchell is on his rookie contract. This is the perfect time to go all in and see how far this team goes. The front office will hope for the best results this season then see what moves or signings are available in the summer. I hope the patience pays off and Utah gives Gobert and Mitchell (and all of Jazz fans for that matter) the team they deserve.