Imagine for a moment you are Dennis Lindsey, the general manager of the Utah Jazz. You were a highly sought after executive with the San Antonio Spurs and decided to take the GM job in Utah last offseason. By doing so you adopted a roster that, as currently constituted, was destined for mediocrity. You now have a promising young core of four top 10 draft picks that have loads of potential, but aren’t ready to lead a team to the playoffs and beyond. You have a collection of pretty good veterans also, but realistically not enough talent to be any better than a fringe playoff team. The real reason you took the job was because after the first season, the only players under contract would be your young core with the addition of Marvin Williams (if he exercised the player option to return for the final year of his contact) and Jeremy Evans. This is exciting. You have a clean sheet to shape the team however you want and a handful of potential future all-stars. You realize that after your first season, you will need to hand the reins over to your young core and that you will (willingly) have at least one very poor season in front of you. Any poor seasons will help you collect more high quality draft picks that you can use to build your team.
This is the position Dennis Lindsey is currently in. He wants to be bad, in order to eventually be good. Dennis Lindsey is not interested in mediocrity. He plans to turn the Utah Jazz into title contenders once again. Which is something Jazz fans can be happy about as they remember the John Stockton-to-Karl Malone era. In order to get there, Dennis will look to collect two things in abundance: Assets (players and picks) and cap flexibility (a lot of room to sign, or trade for, new players). With these things in mind, Dennis made some big moves in the last week to propel his master plan forward.
News broke last week that the Jazz were participants in a trade that allowed the Golden State Warriors to unload about $24 million in contracts of three players: Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush. The Jazz gave away the non-guaranteed contract of Kevin Murphy, last year’s second-round pick who wasn’t able to show much in his rookie season. This allows Golden State to have enough cap space to sign free agent Andre Iguodala and rids them of unproductive players. Yes, the Jazz paid $24 million for two players who are past their prime and would have played very minimally for the Warriors next season and one player who is coming off an terrible injury that kept him out all of last year. It should be said that these three players make nearly as much as what the entire Jazz roster was on the books for up until the trade. Ouch. There goes the cap space Dennis was so excited about. Some were confused about this move initially. How could such a promising GM, one who so masterfully traded his way to success in this year’s NBA draft, make this type of trade? Dennis has his reasons.
Remember, the Utah Jazz want to be bad next season. This will allow them to secure a good draft pick in a historically promising draft year. Over the last few years, this years draft class has had at least two players dubbed as the “next LeBron James,” Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. The Jazz also want to collect as many additional draft picks as they can and cap flexibility. This trade allows them to do all three. The Jazz collected at least four draft picks from the Warriors in this transaction, including a 2014 first-round pick. Dennis Lindsey followed this move up with a sign-and-trade of Randy Foye in a three-team move that will send Iguodala to Golden State, Randy Foye to Denver and more draft picks for future years to Utah. It is also important to remember that Utah would have had to fill out their roster with players, as well as meet the salary cap minimum, this offseason. Considering these factors, Dennis Lindsey pulled off another impressive series of moves. He successfully fills out roster spots and gets to the minimum salary level, as well as collects picks. Each of these players only has one year left on his deal, so he maintains flexibility after this season. The cherry on top could be if any of the three players acquired play well enough during the first half of the season to garner trade value, Dennis could flip a player to a title contender for more draft picks or a player to be part of the long term plan.
Jazz fans will need to manage their expectations. Don’t expect a winning team this year. However, if you hope to see how Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter can improve their skills, as well as witness Dennis Lindsey’s quest to turn the Utah Jazz into title contenders, you will be in for a fun ride.
Topics: Alec Burks, Andre Iguodala, Andris Biedrins, Brandon Rush, Dennis Lindsey, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Golden State Warriors, Gordon Hayward, Randy Foye, Richard Jefferson, Trey Burke, Utah Jazz