Dark Horse Offseason
This offseason for the Jazz has been focused on a single individual, Mike Conley. Whatever his decision would be would decide what the Jazz would do for the rest of their offseason. By drafting Jared Butler in the 2nd round with their only draft pick, the Jazz were able to get a player that will need to prove himself, but in my opinion is a raw version of Donovan Mitchell. Though his main role is a shooting guard, if called upon, Butler could control the floor at the point and giving relief to Donovan Mitchell. With Conley resigning with the Jazz for $68 million over three years, this gives the organization some security at the guard position. With this acquisition, the Jazz have 6 players that can comfortably run point (Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, Trent Forrest,
Joe Ingles, and Jared Butler). Though Utah needed to address depth at the point, they also addressed stretching the four position as well with the addition of Rudy Gay. Signing with Utah for $12.1 million over the next two years, the Jazz have found a veteran with a history with former teammate Mike Conley in Memphis, along with having a consistent three-point threat
off the bench. Last year with the Spurs, Gay, at the age of 35, averaged over 10 points per game and even averaged 38% from the three-point line. With the loss of Georges Niang to the Philadelphia 76ers, Gay will be a great addition to the secondary lineup and help with production on the scoreboard and stat sheet, along with having another veteran to help shape and mold to the younger players to the NBA game. Something else that seemed to be a weakness for the Jazz last season was when Gobert was off the floor, teams would dominate us in the paint. With the addition of Hassan Whiteside on a one-year veteran minimum deal, Whiteside serves as a true center that at one point in his career, went toe-to-toe with Gobert when it came to rebounds and blocks.
These two additions are amazing for the organization now knowing that we have a solid backup center that can defend the key and when needed, shift Gay to a small ball center and still have a threatening shooter at the five. Though it was not technically a free agent acquisition, this trade, in my opinion, is sleeper acquisition that will benefit the Jazz down the road. The trade of Eric Paschall for a future 2nd round pick (rumored to be for the 2024 draft) will add great floor production along with team chemistry since Paschall has been friends with Mitchell since they were eight years old. Still in his rookie deal, by having Paschall in his final year of his contract and playing with his childhood best friend, this may benefit the Jazz on the court and in finances.
The Utah Jazz held their annual Salt Lake City Summer League this past week and we learned very quickly between the two teams the Jazz provided (Jazz-Blue and Jazz-White), that Jazz-White has a lot of potential NBA talent on the roster. With players such as Trent Forrest, Udoka Azubuike, Elijah Hughes and Jarrell Brantley, it shows that the Jazz have found some hidden talent. Some things that have became apparent in the last week during these scrimmages is that Azubuike will become a premiere threat in the paint once he has learned to focus his raw talent. Catching multiple alley-oops from Hughes and Forrest Azubuike seems like he’ll transition very easily to catching those passes from players like Conley. Hughes has shown that he can be a threat from beyond the arc but needs to learn to be able to drain shots that are contested as well. Forrest has shown that he can lead a unit on the floor and can distribute the ball with ease and can readjust if a play doesn’t go according to plan. With this said, the Jazz will play against the Phoenix Suns tonight in Las Vegas for their first game in the NBA Summer League on NBA TV. Though Jared Butler will not be playing tonight, we will see plenty of young talent show that they are worth a contract at the professional level.