Mar 31, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; New York Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni (9) defends against Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward (20) during the first half at EnergySolutions Arena. The Knicks won 92-83. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz: Pablo Prigioni Would Have Taken On Leadership Role

The Utah Jazz are already making headlines this offseason by acquiring Australian point guard Dante Exum with the fifth pick of the 2014 draft. Bringing in Exum now gives the fans of Salt Lake City a reason to have optimism in their franchise for the 2014-15 season.

With the 1-2 punch of Exum and Trey Burke set in stone for the foreseeable future, the duo should cause matchup nightmares for opposing point guards, but the lack of experience at the professional level from both players brings up the question of how big of an impact these two potential stars can provide early on.

So when the opportunity came to acquire a seasoned veteran that could have molded the team’s young talent to become contributors right away, the Jazz backed down when talks became too serious.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, Pablo Prigioni was almost included in the trade discussions involving the New York Knicks and the Sacramento Kings.

In a deal that saw a swap of Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw to the Big Apple in exchange for Jeremy Tyler and Wayne Ellington, the trade was allegedly going to include a third team that would have picked up Prigioni.

It’s evident that Prigioni is going to take on a less significant role for first-year head coach Derek Fisher and the Knicks, after team president Phil Jackson acquired Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin in a package deal with the Dallas Mavericks.

If the production level is supposedly going to decrease from Prigioni this season, the availability of his services should be increasing as the heart of the NBA offseason nears to a close.

As of right now, the Jazz have 13 players under contract for this season, as they’ve picked up Ian Clark‘s option of $816,000 guaranteed. With only two point guards on the depth chart, adding Prigioni for the right price would have been a perfect acquisition.  

Whether he would be asked to play the role as a mentor sitting on the bench or be expected to play 15-20 minutes a game, giving away a mere future second round pick could have been a reasonable swap to the Knicks.

If Prigioni were to rock the navy, yellow and green, the Jazz would have added a pure point guard that has the ability to give others around him more opportunities to score the basketball. This can be seen by his 3.2 assists per game average in just two years in the league.

When he does shoot, which is very rare (2.9 field goal attempts per game and 2.1 three-point attempts per game), his percentage is fairly decent, registering in at 51.1 percent from two-point range and 43.1 percent from downtown.

Despite his impressive resume in the Liga ACB and NBA, it’s hard to assume that head coach Quin Snyder would have the nerve to give Exum or Burke the responsibility of being a spectator rather than a human highlight reel just in order to give Prigioni minutes, considering that the Jazz have used first round picks on both players.

Plus many forget that the former Spanish Cup MVP is getting up there in age. At 37-years old, it’s hard to make the assumption that Prigioni will keep playing at this caliber for the next few years.

However, he’s expected to earn $1.6 million in 2014-15 and $290,000 in guaranteed salary next year makes it a lot easier to take a risk on someone that’s the same age as Vince Carter.

 

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Tags: NBA Pablo Prigioni Utah Jazz

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