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Explaining the Jazz’s protections on draft pick that was traded to OKC

Potential first-round draft picks stand together for a photo at Barclays Center before the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 22, 2023, in New York.
Potential first-round draft picks stand together for a photo at Barclays Center before the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 22, 2023, in New York. | John Minchillo, Associated Press

This article was first published as the Jazz Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Friday.

This newsletter comes to you as a response to a reader email I received, which read as follows:

“Sarah, the Jazz owed the Thunder a draft pick, which was top-10 protected. But since the Jazz are getting the 10th pick in the draft, what does that mean? Do we still owe them a pick? Does it still have the same protections every year?”

The reason the Utah Jazz owe the Oklahoma City Thunder a draft pick in the first place is because they needed to give the Thunder something of value for taking on the Derrick Favors contract back in 2021. Yes, that is what really happened, you are reading that correctly. The Jazz gave up a top-10-protected pick to get rid of Favors.

This year, they avoided giving up that pick. But that does not mean the trade obligation is gone. The Jazz still owe OKC a pick ... for now. Since the pick did not convey in 2024, it still has the same top-10 protections in 2025. If it still does not convey, it becomes a top-eight protected pick in 2026. If it still has not conveyed to OKC, the obligation extinguishes.

Through the 2023-24 season, there’s no doubt that the first-round pick owed to OKC provided a guiding incentive for the Jazz. Since they didn’t show that they would be good enough to really move the needle past play-in contention, the front office made trades and rested players in a way that led to keeping the pick.

That same incentive will be there in 2025, when the top of the draft is widely considered to be full of players who could turn into franchise-altering stars. Then, if the Jazz end up keeping that 2025 top-10 pick, the incentive still exists in 2026.

The Jazz are really unlikely to do a full-on tank job this season (trading away all good players to lose as many games as possible for the best chance at the No. 1 pick), because they feel like they have the players and assets to be able to actually build a contender so I wouldn’t expect that kind of incentivized losing. But, Jazz fans could be in for more of the same this year with the OKC-owed pick hanging in the balance.

New with the Jazz

How to pass the time in the offseason

This week, for the first time in many weeks, there will be very little basketball. We are getting closer and closer to the true NBA offseason, which means my book intake is about to go through the roof.

I’ve already made my way through a couple of books recently, and I’m trying to get through at least two more by the end of June. As always, I love a good book recommendation (send them my way) and I think that reading across genres is something everyone should do. So here’s what I’ve been reading:

“The Mountain in the Sea” by Ray Nayler was sold as a book about the discovery of a species of octopus that have developed language and culture and the high-stakes global race to use the new-found knowledge. But, it was also about androids and some fragmented geopolitical problems that aren’t really explained. I honestly didn’t really like it and it felt like it should have been a short story, or many short stories.

“A Deadly Education” is the first in a series by Naomi Novik. It centers around a magical boarding school, which is something that has certainly been done many times over, though this one is a bit darker and more violent. I finished this installment and though I was confused for a good portion of the book, the world building interested me and I’ve already picked up the second installment, “The Last Graduate.”

I’m also currently listening to the audiobook, “Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection” by Arthur Conan Doyle as read by Stephen Fry. Somehow I made it through an entire literature degree in college and have never read any of the Holmes adventures and I’m enjoying it. Finally, I’m reading “The Bullet Swallower” by Elizabeth Gonzalez James. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Let me know what you’re reading!

From the archives

Extra points

  • The most interesting player in the 2024 NBA draft class (Deseret News)

  • Grading the Utah Jazz: Walker Kessler struggled this season, but he didn’t ‘crash and burn’ (Deseret News)

  • The Jazz wouldn’t have been able to take Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley to the Western Conference Finals (Deseret News)

  • Former All-Star Gordon Hayward’s NBA career has languished since leaving Utah (KSL.com)

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  • June 6 | 6:30 p.m. MDT | Game 1 | Dallas Mavericks @ Boston Celtics | ABC