3 trades that put the Utah Jazz back in the draft

While the NBA’s main publicity focus remains on the playoffs and the wild matchup of GSW-DAL and MIA-BOS as we wait for the Finals to be decided, most NBA teams and their fan bases are focused on the draft.

With only 30 days to go before the commissioner takes the podium to announce the draft picks, mock drafts, big boards, player profiles and more are going viral and generating a lot of buzz…even for a team like Utah that doesn’t have any draft picks.

Utah should make up for that reality by taking action to enter this year’s draft.

The team is at a critical point where improvements are difficult to achieve, and there is nothing in the vault to light a bright future. Funds are tight and teams are tight. The way out of this situation is to get valuable product from rookie trade players.

Below are three trades that would give Utah a pick in this year’s draft and start getting contributions from young players who can bridge any gaps and transition waits.

Deal #1 – Rolls Royce

this Utah Jazz traded Royce O’Neal to Charlotte Hornets Mason Plumlee and the 15th pick in the draft. That gave the Jazz a mid-first-round lead to grab a declining prospect.

Jazz-Hawks trade

Utah Jazz trade Royce O’Neal to Charlotte Hornets for Mason Plumlee and No. 15 pick
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Why on earth would any team make this exchange?

Let’s start with Charlotte. Two years later, after a near-miss in the playoffs (thumping out against the IND and ATL), the Hornets fired head coach James Borrego and are looking to regroup.

They’ve already found a star in LaMelo Ball with 2 years left on his rookie deal, and Myles Bridges has turned into a solid running mate. They’re looking to shuffle the roster for a big name that will propel them into a postseason surge in Memphis.

That player is unlikely to be in the draft, they have #13 and #15. Instead, they could give up one of the draft picks, emphasize their 3-and-D approach, cut out some irrelevant salary in Plumlee, and go after the more flexible big man they’ve long coveted.

Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks - Game 2

Royce O’Neal struggled in the playoffs, making just 25 3-pointers in the DAL series while shooting under 30 percent
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Maybe they’re targeting Miles Turner or Clint Capela with a trade, because Oubre will be the victim of Reus. Maybe they turn their attention to the FA’s Nic Claxton type, or give their youngster Kai Jones a run.

For Charlotte, Royce gives you plenty of options, while Plumlee adds complexity.

For Utah, the deal makes sense in two ways:

1) If the Jazz really want to trade Gobert and Hassan wants to get out of the minimum deal, Utah will need minutes at center. If your starting big doesn’t have $38 million, Plumlee could be a starter, or preferably a backup.

2) The Jazz cut hundreds of thousands in taxable wages and make time for Danuel House, which Utah may want to use its taxpayer MLE. House’s dynamism, aggression and skill surpassed that of Reus late in the season and in the playoffs.

But the reason you’re making this trade is to pick a sliding, late lottery prospect or a player whose stock goes up. 6’8″, 217 lbs Louisiana State University Forward Tari Eason could be the kind of prospect with an interesting combination of shooting and defense. SLC Dunk’s own Calvin Chappell Breaks down Eason’s game and why he could be the Jazz’s home run.

Deal #2 – No Momic

Utah Jazz trade Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and Nickel Alexander-Walker to Washington Wizards In exchange for Kristaps Porzingis, Oklahoma City Thunder By giving the Wizards the No. 12 pick, they moved up two spots to No. 10 in the draft.

Jazz-Thunder-Wizards trade

Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder and Washington Wizards reach three-team deal
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Why would any of these teams make this deal?

Let’s start with OKC. It was an easy 2-for-1 pick for the Thunder to move up to No. 10. They only do it if they are sold in the lottery to someone they don’t want to lose. OKC has too many draft picks to actually convert into a roster, so consolidation is on the table.

Let’s transition to the Washington Wizards. Washington has signed a selfless player from Kristaps to a long-term contract. That’s a lot of money and won’t get their organization going in either direction. With this trade, they found a backcourt partner for Bradley Beal and allocated contract totals while slipping only two spots in the draft.

For Utah, the deal is about acknowledging that it’s a sideways move that brings some strengths and some weaknesses. Kristaps is not the answer, just like Conley is not the answer. This move allows the Jazz to put Donovan at the 1 and surround him with more length.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz - Game 6

Mike Conley being a defensive target and battling average-sized defenders in the playoffs paints a picture of a frustrating future for him and Donovan in the backcourt.
Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

How does Kristaps fit into the team? If Utah leaves Gobert, he’ll likely be your starting center. Otherwise, maybe you put him out at the 4 and Boganovic at the 3. You get secondary rim protection and you try to convert everything while addressing the issue of not having a backup center that Hassan might have moved on.

Plus, this deal is about getting into the late first round and grabbing a second-rounder whose stock you really like is going up. Maybe that player is 6-foot-6, 209-pound forward Jalen Williams from Santa Clara. Maybe Jalen is the long, organized talent you need next to 6-foot-1 Donovan Mitchell as a defensive presence and offensive release valve.

Deal #3 – Gobert, Gone

Utah Jazz trade Rudy Gobert to Sacramento Kings Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes and the No. 4 pick in the draft. That puts the Jazz in a dominant position to snatch their favorite second-tier player.

Sir - King Trade

Utah Jazz trade Rudy Gobert to Sacramento Kings for Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes and No. 4 pick
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Why on earth would any team make this exchange?

Again, let’s start with the king. Sacramento has missed the playoffs for 16 straight seasons and, like Charlotte, has hinted that they intend to make the playoffs next year.

Sacramento had already shaken up their roster midseason by trading Domantas Sabonis, and emphasized a different direction by firing Luke Walton, leaving interim coach Alvin Gentry and hiring Mike Brown.

So why trade Rudy? The Kings are very disappointed to miss out on the top three, and the noise that they are open to moving #4 is surfacing. They’re bent on taking one of the team’s three big men, so why not take Gobert, one of the top big men in the league?

The Kings have ranked fifth-worst in defense the past two seasons and have been below the league average for more than a decade. Gobert will push this team into the top 10 while underscoring their offense with gravity and screens.

Gobert put every previous move in order and guaranteed them a playoff series.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz - Game 6

Rudy Gobert’s historical strengths align perfectly with Sacrament’s direction, needs and desires
Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

For Utah, the trade is to build the ideal roster around Donovan. What does that look like? Length, shooting and versatility.

Harrison Barnes brings all those aspects to the team. He is similar to Bojan in many ways, while possessing a larger frame and a higher level of athleticism. Richaun Holmes is a decent lob threat for Donovan while passing the visual test of a modern, nimble 5.

But again, the reason you make this trade is to want to try and sign a player like the Raptors did with Scotty Barnes last year. Despite what most considered a four-man draft last year, Barnes’ stock improved over the summer when Toronto unexpectedly beat Jalen Suggs.

The move has since proven to be excellent, as Scotty has become the connective tissue of an already talented team and propelled them into a must-win playoff team. That’s the type of young player Utah is looking for as draft night approaches.

Maybe that player is the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Keegan Murray from Iowa, who might replace Barnes and Boganovic in the starting lineup. Or maybe one of Shaedon Sharpe or Jaden Ivey’s two guards eased Mitchell’s transition to the 1.

The Jazz shot with too many draft picks, settled for late second-round talent too often, and moved too many young players, and they created a money and talent problem.

All of the best teams this season have young players excelling on small contracts. Miami has Gabe Vincent and Max Strus. Boston has Peyton Pritchard and Robert Williams III. The Golden State Warriors have Jordan Poole. Dallas Mavericks There’s Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green.

The Utah Jazz need to regain legitimate talent and develop it. As salespeople put it “always looking” and “always ending,” the Jazz can’t sit still because “young people won’t help you win.” If you don’t aggressively land and develop talent, you’ll run into shortages.

Hopefully the Jazz can change their trajectory with a trade to get into the draft and restart the cycle of rookie trade contributing players.

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