Utah Jazz Willing To Sacrifice 2014?
Many fans have recently been following the Utah Jazz to track how the Los Angeles Lakers’ playoff chances are looking. The two are competing for the eighth and final playoff spot in a very competitive Western Conference.
The Jazz are led by their big men, particularly veterans Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Both are free agents after the season, and both are taking minutes from youngsters Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. Surprisingly, the Jazz didn’t trade either Jefferson or Millsap at the deadline.
It seems as if next year will be the year where Favors and Kanter take over on a full-time basis. As a matter of fact, the Jazz are reportedly content taking a step back next season in order to grab a better draft pick. Via Zach Lowe:
Utah’s willingness to slide back into the lottery, and its patience with young players. Dennis Lindsey is Utah’s new GM, fresh from San Antonio (and Houston before that), which means things will start changing slowly in Utah. Among those changes: Multiple league sources who dealt with Utah ahead of the deadline insist the Jazz presented themselves as willing to take a step back next season and snag a solid pick in a loaded 2014 draft. That is in part Lindsey’s influence, those sources say. And while that runs counter to the Jazz’s desire to make the playoffs this season, this roster was already set when Lindsey arrived over the summer, and new front offices are sometimes cautious in flexing their muscles.
In other words, the Jazz aren’t going to cry if they lose Millsap or Jefferson for nothing in July. It’s an NBA cliché that losing an asset for nothing is bad, and that cliché is generally true; the Nuggets didn’t really want Nene, but they re-signed him anyway at a price they knew could move.
This isn’t quite tanking, but it definitely sounds a little strange. The Jazz probably aren’t title contenders, but they are certainly a pretty solid team in a very tough Western Conference. To go from competing for the playoffs to “taking a step back and snag a solid pick” is a weird concept.
Then again, the Jazz could be very dangerous in a few years with Kanter, Favors, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, and a high first round draft pick in 2014.
It probably hurts to hear if you’re a Jazz fan, but it looks like this could be the right strategy to take.