SALT LAKE CITY — The Jazz are closing the season. Everything is in limbo still as the Jazz are fighting with the Mavericks and the Lakers for the last spot and the chance to play the Spurs in the playoffs. Soon after the Jazz will be in another battle, to build a team for the future.
The Jazz have $40 million that will open up next year for the Jazz to shop with. They will be among the top spenders once free agency opens up and should be able to at least get anyone to talk to them. Whether they can get someone to come might be another thing.
For now a look we can just look at who will be available and maybe dream a little about what the next few years could be. This is in no ways an extensive look at what the Jazz could be. The options are limitless and the Jazz think differently than most clubs. But this is a quick synopsis of what might be an ideal off season for the Jazz.
ESPN's Amin Elhassan just released his top 30 free agents and roughly what he thinks the players will command for a salary in the coming years. This will be the basis to create some Jazz lineups for next year.
This is with the assumption that Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter will be starting and Marvin Williams and Jeremy Evans will be back. Williams has a player option that he will probably pick up.
Also in Elhassan's article he has Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap as 8 and 9 as a free agent. They could stay or leave, but here is the assumption they won't be back.
First off the prize of the offseason for the Jazz would be Chris Paul. He is the top point guard in the NBA and would fit the Jazz system perfectly. He is unrestricted and Elhassan said that he would require $21.5 million. Unfortunately the Clippers can sign him for that, while the Jazz can only sign him for the league maximum without Bird Rights which is a few million less.
Of course the Jazz have flexibility to get anyone else that the Jazz would be interested in while letting him play with the four young players. For sake of what could be the Jazz could sign him and let him control other signings.
If the Jazz go with a nine-man rotation they would have Paul, Burks, Hayward, Favors and Kanter with Williams off the bench at small forward.
A player that could fill a role would be Tony Allen. Elhassan has him valued at roughly $6 million per and said, "Although he offers little on the offensive end, Allen's defense is nothing short of elite." Denim Millward on Bleacher Report talked about him as a player for the Jazz to watch in the coming year.
He is a great defender and wouldn't have to worry about offense too much. He could close games against good defenders and Paul and Hayward would keep the offense going. Might even start over Burks who would become the sixth man to add instant offense.
At this point the Jazz would still have roughly $16 million. They would be in need of role playing big men and a backup point guard, after all Jamaal Tinsely won't be around forever. The Jazz could grab Darren Collison or Jarrett Jack. Both would add offense and basically get around $5 million.
Elhassan had this about Collison, "His size can be a defensive liability, and he still gets out of control at times offensively. However, as a stopgap solution at point guard, you can do much worse."
Hoopsworlds' Eric Pincus said this about Jack, "Jack has been a major part of the Warriors success this season. Golden State really needs to keep him. He's the best reserve point guard in the league - one certainly capable of starting."
A big man that is interesting would be Timofey Mozgov. He won't be pushing to start and would contribute. He would get roughly $6 million and according to Elhassan, "He's a big body, active rebounder (particularly on the offensive glass) and a legitimate threat from about 15 feet, making him an ideal option in a shallow pick-and-roll."
At this point the lines would be the starters as above and Jack or Collison, Allen, Williams and Mozgov coming off the bench.
Other names to look for, especially if Paul doesn't happen, could be Brandon Jennings and Jeff Teague. Teague might be the more likely target for the Jazz, but he has a qualifying offer and would be a restricted free agent.
The Jazz would have some space left over, but would be taken up in the years to come.
The rest of the roster would be filled in via the draft. The Jazz currently have two picks at 18 and 21, could be 14 if they don't make the playoffs. The names that keep popping up on draft boards include Rudy Gobert, Myck Kabongo, Michael Carter-Williams, Kelly Olynyk and Glenn Robinson III.
The name Trey Burke has been big lately, but he is launching up the draft boards, so Jazz might not have a great chance at him. Kabongo and Carter-Williams are point guards. Robinson is a small forward and Gobert and Olynyk are 7-footers who can stretch the floor.