Utah Jazz: Which free agents should they bring back?

Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images
Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images /
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Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images /

Naz Long

Not much is known about Naz Long in terms of his NBA future. He went undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft, was signed by the Utah Jazz and has been with the team ever since. The Jazz are the only team Long has ever known, but despite two seasons spent with the Salt Lake City Stars, he hasn’t been able to earn many minutes.

Listed as a shooting guard, unless Donovan Mitchell or any of his (likely) backups go down, Long doesn’t figure to get much of an opportunity with the Jazz. The best course of action is to let him go and seek a better opportunity elsewhere.

Verdict: Let go 

Raul Neto

Raul Neto actually used to be the Jazz’s full-time starter at the point guard position. While he didn’t wow anyone with his statistics, he showed the capability to be (at the very least) a spot starter in this league.

With the injury woes that Dante Exum continues to suffer and the possibility of Ricky Rubio departing in the offseason, it makes sense to bring back Neto and guarantee his $2.2 million salary for 2019-20.

If the Jazz decide to draft someone instead, or sign someone else, Neto’s deal is non-guaranteed and they can cut ties without penalty.

Verdict: Keep 

Kyle Korver

A career 42.9 percent shooter from beyond the arc, Kyle Korver is the definition of consistency.

The phrase “a pro’s pro” is thrown around a lot in professional sports, but Korver truly is. He had some high praise on Donovan Mitchell and also released a poignant article on his thoughts on race relation and his role in today’s society and as a NBA player. Both are worth a read.

Korver was acquired in exchange for Alec Burks and two future second round picks. Burks went on to have an okay season for the Cavs, but Korver came in and instantly improved the Jazz’s 3-point shooting and offense as a whole.

Despite being 37 years old and owed $7.5 million next year, Korver has shown no signs of slowing down as a floor-spacer and veteran leader. If the Jazz can get him to sign to a more team-friendly deal, then they should definitely do it. If they can’t, this is one player they should be willing to spend on.

Verdict: Keep 

Royce O’Neale

Besides having an awesome story on his path to the NBA, Royce O’Neale has turned into one of Snyder’s most trusted players and consistent players for the Jazz.

Statistically speaking, O’Neale was Utah’s fourth-best 3-point shooter, two-tenths of a percentage point ahead of Kyle Korver (albeit on less volume.)

O’Neale has the ability to play as the 2, 3, or 4 on offense and guard those positions on defense. He’s what every GM is looking to stockpile nowadays as a 3-and-D player. He offers Snyder and the Jazz a lot of possibilities with lineup combinations and defensive looks, and his cap hit for next season wouldn’t even be $2 million — a steal for the value O’Neale has already provided.

Verdict: Keep 

Ricky Rubio

Last but not least is Slick Ricky, Ricky Rubio.

Out of all the free agent decisions the Jazz have to make this summer, this is arguably the most difficult. Not only is Rubio a fan favorite, he’s clearly one of the players’ favorite teammates and has an excellent relationship with budding star Donovan Mitchell and franchise cornerstone Rudy Gobert. He’s become familiar with the system, has an improved 3-point shot and is still an excellent passer. His defense isn’t spectacular, but he can hold his own against most other starting point guards in the league.

Then there’s his offense.

Rubio deserves praise for the stability he’s brought to the point guard position for Utah, especially since young guard Dante Exum hasn’t been able to stay healthy and with Raul Neto missing stretches of time.

Rubio has also had his fair share of injuries and is creeping towards the dreaded age of 30 as an unrestricted free agent.

Where does that leave Utah?

The Jazz could run it back and hope for continued improvement from incumbent starters Derrick Favors and Ricky Rubio and likely make the playoffs again, likely in the 4-5 seed range. The past few postseasons have also shown teams’ (namely the Houston Rockets’) ease of exploiting Rubio’s weaknesses on both sides of the ball and general inability to create his own shot without a screen.

Even if the Jazz are able to sign highly coveted forward Tobias Harris, it still may not be enough to put Utah over the hump. The Jazz may be better off pursuing a young guard like Malcolm Brogdon or D’Angelo Russell, or a veteran option like Kemba Walker. This would force Rubio to accept a role off the bench or simply leave.

As great as Rubio has been for the Jazz, it’s time to move on.

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Verdict: Let go, but try to convince him to take a bench role if possible