Summer agenda: Utah Jazz
The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a 20-year executive with the Nets, offers his thoughts on the offseason plans of NBA teams whose seasons have ended.
THE PLAN GOING FORWARD
Get a comfort level with Hayward
The Jazz’s focus this summer will not be on their $22 million in cap space, but the impending free agency of Gordon Hayward in 2017.
Since being selected with the ninth overall pick in 2010, Hayward has become the face of the Jazz. Hayward had steadily improved until kind of flat-lining this past season.
With Hayward entering the third year of a max contract signed in 2014, Utah is at a crossroads. Hayward has a player option for 2017-18 and the likelihood is for him to opt out and become a free agent in 2017.
Because Hayward is only in the third year of his contract the Jazz cannot renegotiate the deal even though they will have cap space.
With the salary cap expected to reach $109 million in 2017, Hayward’s starting max salary could approach $30 million per year. Hayward certainly has found a home in Utah, but the lure of free agency and potentially his last big contract could be too big to resist.
Learn from losses to Clippers and Mavs
Sometimes good things come from tough losses.
The late-season losses to the Clippers and Mavericks should serve as a teaching tool for the Jazz. With the playoffs in their grasp, the Jazz squandered a golden opportunity by losing to the undermanned Clippers and a Mavericks squad fighting for a playoff berth.
Although Utah would have faced Golden State or San Antonio in the first round, getting playoff experience for a young team was the next step in the rebuilding process.
Don’t lose faith
The Jazz pride themselves on player development.
Hayward, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert and Rodney Hood are proof of how well the organization develops players.
Missing out on the playoffs stings, but what those players will realize this offseason is that they will improve because of the hard work from previous summers.
The Gobert extension
The Jazz have an interesting decision to make this summer on Gobert, who is eligible for a contract extension but is under contract through 2016-17.
Utah can do what New Orleans did with Anthony Davis and sign Gobert to a big extension, thus eliminating cap space in 2017-18. The most likely scenario, however, would have the Jazz mimicking how the Wizards and Pistons handled the impending free agency of Bradley Beal and Andre Drummond, respectively. Both teams bypassed the extension, leaving the players’ cap holds on the books to create more cap flexibility.
Gobert is going to get his payday, but the likely scenario is the Jazz leaving his $5.3 million cap hold on the books in 2017.
Another year of stability and development with this roster will be the biggest upgrade for the Jazz.
Jazz fans should not pin their hopes on the return of Dante Exum to immediately fix some of the team’s issues at point guard. He’s still a 20-year-old in the development stage of his career recovering from a serious knee injury.
Besides figuring out if the Shelvin Mack-Raul Neto-Trey Burke combination is suitable until Exum returns, the Jazz’s biggest needs are an athletic wing and center off the bench.
SUMMER CAP BREAKDOWN
1. Gordon Hayward
2. Derrick Favors
3. Alec Burks
4. Dante Exum
5. Trey Burke
Eligible for rookie extension
6. Tibor Pleiss
7. Trey Lyles
8. Joe Ingles
9. Rudy Gobert
Eligible for rookie extension
10. Rodney Hood
11. Raul Neto
12. Chris Johnson
13. Jeff Withey
14. Shelvin Mack
FA cap holds
15. Trevor Booker
16. Own pick at No. 12
FA cap holds
PROJECTED CAP SPACE
The Jazz should already have their books lined up heading into free agency. With 14 players under contract, the Jazz will have $22.8 million in cap space.
Expect Mack to remain on the roster past his July 7 cut date. Mack, whose $2.4 million contract would become guaranteed then, would create additional room if waived, but with a below-average market for point guards, Utah will likely retain his services.
JUNE DRAFT PICKS
First round: Own
Second round: Own; has picks from Boston and Golden State
2017: Own and has Golden State’s pick (unprotected)
2018: Own and has Oklahoma City’s pick (Nos. 15-30)
2019: Own and potentially has Oklahoma City’s pick (Nos. 15-30)
2020: Own and potentially has Oklahoma City’s pick (Nos. 15-30)
Own all first round picks.
Key rights to: Olivier Hanlan (Pick No. 42, 2015); Ante Tomic (Pick No. 44, 2008)
PREVIOUS SUMMER AGENDAS: Nets | Pelicans | Timberwolves | Lakers | Knicks | Wizards | Bucks | 76ers | Nuggets | Kings | Bulls | Magic | Suns
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