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Should the Jazz be interested in this potential trade with Oklahoma City?

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey (3) takes a shot attempt against Utah Jazz forward Juan Toscano-Anderson (95) during an NBA game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Feb. 23, 2023.

Will Josh Giddey sport a Utah Jazz jersey next season?

If ESPN’s Bobby Marks were to have his way, Giddey — the No. 6 pick in the 2021 NBA draft — would suit up for the Jazz next season.

In his recent article on potential trades that could — and maybe even should — be made across the league this offseason, Marks singled out Giddey to the Jazz as one of the more intriguing ideas.

The proposed Josh Giddey to the Utah Jazz trade

The trade floated by Marks is a simple one.

Oklahoma City would send the 6-foot-8, 210-pound Giddey to Salt Lake City in exchange for draft capital — specifically, the Jazz would cede the No. 10 pick in the upcoming 2024 NBA draft and also send the Thunder Minnesota’s top-14 protected pick in the 2025 draft.

A former lottery pick, Giddey would arrive in Salt Lake City entering the final year of a four-year deal and would become a restricted free agent following the 2024-25 NBA season. Giddey is slated to make a little over $8 million next season, approximately 6% of the current salary cap.

Why the Jazz should make the trade

Oklahoma City Thunder's Josh Giddey handles the ball in Game 4 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks, Monday, May 13, 2024, in Dallas. | Tony Gutierrez
Oklahoma City Thunder's Josh Giddey handles the ball in Game 4 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks, Monday, May 13, 2024, in Dallas. | Tony Gutierrez

It isn’t difficult to understand why Marks likes the trade. At 21 years old, Giddey is a young and talented prospect who has proven to be a capable NBA starter. Moreover, at 6-foot-8, Giddey is capable of playing multiple positions, including point guard, shooting guard and small forward.

While helping the Thunder to the best record in the Western Conference this past season, Giddey took a step back as a playmaker — his assists per game dropped from over six per game to under five per game — but he was more efficient as a scorer than at any point in his career, with an effective shooting percentage of .523 and a 3-point shooting percentage of .337.

Put Giddey on the Jazz and he fits the timeline.

Keyonte George is 20. Taylor Hendricks is 20. Brice Sensabaugh is 20. Walker Kessler is 22. Collin Sexton is 25. Lauri Markkanen is 27. Most of the Jazz players who could be expected to be around Salt Lake City for awhile fit with Giddey’s career arc.

Moreover, the Australian fits well alongside George in the backcourt. Giddey is at his best as a playmaker, and the same can’t be said for George — a small forward in college — though he took strides last year as the Jazz’s lead guard.

“Keyonte played small forward last year, as a freshman at Baylor,” Utah Jazz CEO of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Deseret News’ Sarah Todd at the end of the Jazz’s 2023-24 season. “He played point guard for the first time in his life this year, and he was a full time NBA point guard. And like I said, half the games he played this year, he was the focal point of the opposition defense. I think that is a great learning experience — like learning to run, pick-and-rolls. He’s way better now than he wants to start the season. I’m still not sure he’s a franchise point guard, but I think he can play point guard, I think that he can play with another guard playing the point, he can play off the ball and as a matter of fact, he’s probably more comfortable with that at this moment in time. But this experience of learning the point guard position is a big step for him and just provides a lot of versatility for our team going forward.”

A lineup of George, Giddey, Hendricks, Markkanen and Kessler would be one of the largest in the league and as proven by multiple teams this postseason — Minnesota and Boston, especially — size can kill.

Why the Jazz shouldn’t make the trade

As intriguing as the hypothetical Giddey trade is, there are plenty of reasons why Utah shouldn’t entertain the idea.

For one, Giddey became less and less important to Oklahoma City as the season wore on, and he became something of a liability in the playoffs against Dallas. Despite shooting a career-best from 3-point range, Giddey didn’t have the volume of attempts to be a real threat, which hurt the spacing of the Thunder offense.

Playing off the ball more, Giddey was visibly less effective, and questions remain about whether or not a Giddey-led offense can be one of the better ones in the NBA.

Putting Giddey’s performance aside, perhaps the biggest reason to not go through with the proposed trade regards the draft compensation Utah would send to OKC.

The No. 10 pick in this year’s draft isn’t a deal-breaker — per multiple reports, the Jazz are open to trading both of their picks in the upcoming draft — but Minnesota’s pick in next year’s draft is notable.

The 2025 draft is expected to be one of the best in recent memory, with projected No. 1 pick Cooper Flagg a dream addition for many teams.

While Minnesota isn’t likely to fall into the lottery as currently constructed — the Timberwolves just played in the Western Conference Finals — there is plenty of evidence of teams taking unexpected dips into the lottery.

Look no further than current Finals participant Dallas. A year ago, Dallas was a lottery team. The year before that, the Mavericks were playing in the conference finals.

Having multiple picks in a strong draft, potentially multiple lottery picks, would give the Jazz the best chance to land a franchise-changing player. And through three NBA seasons, Giddey hasn’t proven to be that sort of player.