Last night Utah blew out the Raptors by 32 points. They were without Al Jefferson (Utah's best offensive player) and Derrick Favors (Utah's best defensive player), yet it was by far Utah's best offensive performance this season. The passing was phenominal and Utah ended with five players getting at least 4 assists and the team racking up a ridiculous 31 assists overall. Utah shot a blazing 56% from deep, largely because their passing created wide open looks. Enes Kaner, in his first-ever NBA start, took it to his Euro rival Jonas, ending with 18/8 compared to Jonas' 6/4. Similarly, Hayward really shut down DeRozen once he came in the game and Mo Williams outplayed Lowry/Calderon.
I'm certain this offensive performance would not have happened if Jefferson had played. He's a ball stopper and slows the team down in transition. Still, vs. physical teams with dominant post bigs (Clippers/Lakers/Grizzlies/etc.), the Jazz would have been in trouble with a Kanter/Sap/Evans rotation at the 4/5. Moreover, Al has the highest fg% of any NBA player in the last five minutes of the game over the last three years. Yes, you read that right. He really improves at the end of games, which is a big reason the Jazz have won so many of their close games in the last couple of years.
With all of that said, what should the Jazz do now? They are currently a bubble playoff team and clearly not a contender. Do they just wait for Favors, Kanter, Hayward and Burks to improve? If they fail to trade Sap/Al, do they sign one or both in the offseason? If they trade one of them, which should they trade and what could they get? If you were the GM, what would you be trying to do with this team?
I think unless they get an unreal offer for Jefferson or Milsap they should stay put and focus on developing Favors, Kanter, Burks, Hayward, and some how acuire a long term answer at PG. They are set up to be good for years and finding a point guard isn't an impossible task.
True, they will most likely go pg in this draft even though their really is no standout pg in this class. But who knows maybe one will emerge from the pack. With Kanter/Favors up front, Hayward/Burks on the wing and a new rookie pg Utah could end up with one of the better young cores in the league (with 5 possible future starters). Injuries and lack of development aside.
It's time to move Big Al and give Favors and Kanter room in order for them to develop their post game, footwork and develop some type of clutch factor they would need against more physical teams as you pointed out. Milsap's versatility, toughness and long tenure makes me say keep him instead of Al. I also agree with finding a long-term PG. Mo Williams has been playing great, but I'm not sold on him for the long tern solution.
I'd love to see some trade with the clippers, resulting big Al to the clippers and bledsoe to the jazz, of course other players would have to be involved for the salaries to match, but I think this would benefit both team if something of that sort hapenned
A lot of Jazz fans on the forums want that exact trade. Bledsoe for Jefferson. I'm not sure if the money could ever work out though.
We all realize Utah needs to target a future pg, but let's not forget that all championship contenders need a great bench. Jefferson and Milsap will demand too much money to be your 6th man, assuming Kanter will eventually start. I say move one of the bigs now for young, cheap bigs that can come off the bench. I say probably send one to Indy for a package around Hansbrough. He will be a great big off your bench and Bird will love to pair either Jefferson or Milsap with Hibbert, remember West is 32. Or maybe to Houston for a package of young bigs. I know both Jefferson and Milsap are worth more, but you help set up the team for future success with play time for Kanter and continuing to have a bench depth of bigs. Also, I'm a believer in Burks, but if he continues to regress, I say pursue Kevin Martin in FA and ship Burks for Bledso. I can see the clips interested in that.
Now why would the Clips be interested in that? They LOVE Bledsoe. Burks hasn't shown anything.
I think trading Jefferson is obvious. If developmental minutes are a must for the Jazz, then why not not trade Jefferson away for a PG+ and go with a shorter big man rotation? All 3 of Millsap, Favors and Kanter can get starter's minutes in a 3 man big rotation.