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SALT LAKE CITY — Notes from the first week of the Jazz's offseason from KSL.com's Utah Jazz beat writer, Andy Larsen.
Milos Teodosic rumors
For the third or fourth time this season, there's a report linking star international point guard Milos Teodosic and the Utah Jazz.
Today's comes from David Pick, who wrote this report on Teodosic's next contract plus other issues relating to Teodosic's team, CSKA Moscow.
Milos Teodosic - NBA or Europe? Several NBA GMs and scouts are eyeballing the Serbian wizard floor general. With ex-CSKA assistant Quin Snyder leading Utah into the second round of the playoffs with loads of international flavor, sources tell me the Jazz are bound to shoot Teodosic an offer sheet. The Brooklyn Nets are also in active pursuit. People close to Teodosic estimate that he'll push for a deal in three years, $25 million to $30 million range.
Besides the Nets, Jazz and Spurs, I'd also add the Denver Nuggets in the list of possible suitors.
"I cannot discuss candidates to replace a player that hasn't left or might re-sign with CSKA. Milos is unique," CSKA Moscow President Andrey Vatutin said about Teodosic. "But if an NBA team makes him an offer — it will be impossible to compete with."
Again, this isn't the first time we've heard Teodosic and the Jazz linked. First, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder coached Teodosic during his season as an assistant at CSKA Moscow in 2012-13.
Last summer in a Serbian interview, Teodosic was asked if there was a specific NBA team he'd like to be a part of. Teodosic mentioned two: the San Antonio Spurs and the Utah Jazz. Remember, this was before the Jazz were a playoff team.
San Antonio Spurs have that so-called "euro-style" of basketball, where game is played on "extra pass" and so on. But, specifically Utah Jazz, their coach Quin Snyder is former assistant of Ettore Messina and I have great relationship with him. He's a great guy and at the moment one of the most promising coaches in USA, and he knows me very well. I think I would be a great fit for that team since I know him (Quin) and his style of coaching. Plus, Jazz has a solid team with lot of young and athletic players.
Snyder was asked about Teodosic in 2014:
The cap math to get Teodosic to Utah is a little bit complicated and depends on the Jazz's other free agents' decisions. Perhaps the most likely way it happens is if the Jazz use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Teodosic. A three-year deal for Teodosic under that exception would be about $26.4 million over the course of those three years, an average annual value of $8.8 million. That matches up with Teodosic's salary demands.
Signing Teodosic using that exception would cap the Jazz at spending at most six million dollars above the luxury tax line, or about $127 million. That might necessitate finding a way to dump Alec Burks' salary on another team, as well as the waiver or trade of Boris Diaw.
Would Teodosic be worth the non-taxpayer mid-level? I think so. He's now 30 years old, but he's perhaps the best European point guard ever. As Snyder says, Teodosic "might be the best passer in the world." For example, this pass might be the best assist I've ever seen.
He's also a phenomenal shooter from distance and the mid-range. He's been named a EuroLeague MVP and a EuroLeague champion and has led Serbia to a silver medal in the Olympics.
The biggest question mark is about Teodosic's defense and whether or not he could fit in to the Jazz's scheme. Teodosic has good size (he's 6-foot-5), but he doesn't move very quickly even at the European level. Guarding speedy NBA point guards might be too much, and it might be asking too much for him to be an NBA starter right away.
But it could make sense to bring back George Hill and sign Teodosic, so long as Hill's salary demands don't push the Jazz over the hard cap. Hill's size, length, shooting ability and defensive skills mean he can be moved to the shooting guard position, playing next to Teodosic if necessary. You can imagine a rotation where Teodosic and Hill split point guard minutes, with Hill getting extra minutes at the two, while Rodney Hood and Joe Ingles take whatever shooting guard or small forward minutes Gordon Hayward doesn't.
I think it's a risk that would be worth it for the Jazz, even if they sign him in a backup role. They'll have huge competition in signing Teodosic, and it'd be hard for him to turn down an offer from the Nets or Nuggets that might far surpass the amount the Jazz can offer him under the NBA's salary cap rules. But if he does end up in a Jazz uniform, man, it would be a lot of fun.
All-NBA teams to be announced Thursday
This week, the NBA told reporters that the league's All-NBA teams would be announced Thursday. That matters to the Jazz for a couple of reasons.
The most important is that it determines whether or not Gordon Hayward is eligible for a Designated Player Extension, as I outlined for this article on Hayward's contract options on KSL.com. If Hayward is eligible for such an extension, he'd have to opt in to his current deal in June, then sign the extension in July or thereafter. Still, it would be his best shot at making just an absolutely gigantic amount of money and would have the additional benefit of giving the Jazz a little bit more space to work with in 2017-18. If he is indeed named All-NBA, I think it's almost certain Hayward will stay in Utah.
That being said, I don't think Hayward is likely to get All-NBA honors. There are four clear forwards that deserve it over him: LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant. Beyond that, voters are choosing from a pool that includes Draymond Green, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Paul Millsap and maybe Anthony Davis (depending on whether voters consider him a forward or a center).
But even if Hayward gets close, it might inspire him to choose another option: a "one plus one" deal that would allow him the freedom to opt out if he thinks he can get the designated player contract in years to come. That deal would have to be signed with the Jazz.
Whether or not Davis is called a forward or a center has another ramification for the Jazz: It may determine whether Rudy Gobert is first-team, second-team or third-team All-NBA. I'm nearly certain Gobert will get one of the three slots, but which one is still to be determined.
While All-NBA doesn't impact Gobert's salary like it does Hayward's, one other award does: the All-Defensive team. As Bobby Marks of The Vertical reported in March, if Gobert makes the All-Defensive first team, as is expected, the Jazz's $500,000 bonus for him for that award in his new extension would become listed as likely in the 2017-18 salary sheets. That, along with $500,000 in other bonuses that Gobert likely achieved this season based on rebounding and defensive rating, means that the Jazz might be $1 million closer to paying the luxury tax than they might have expected.
Of course, given that those bonuses came as the result of some good play, they'll take Gobert's improvement every time.
Hayward leaves, billboards up
Gordon Hayward left Salt Lake City on Monday to begin his offseason at his home in San Diego.
Ironically, eight billboards asking Hayward to stay in Utah with the #Stayward campaign are scheduled to go up around the Salt Lake Valley this week. But while Hayward may have missed the billboards for now, they're slated to stay up until the end of June, well after Hayward's estimated return date.
Teodosic isn't the only player interested in playing in Utah. Donatas Motiejunas, most recently of the New Orleans Pelicans but most famously of the Houston Rockets, is a free agent this summer.
Motiejunas told a Lithuanian reporter that he had ruled out returning to the Pelicans, but is interested in four other teams:
Here's the rub: Motiejunas might just be bad at the NBA level. He didn't play much last season on a very shallow Pelicans roster, as his 3-point shot left him. Ideally, he'd be able to do some of the things the Jazz would like from a big man, but he hasn't really showed those skills over the last two years. He might be a reasonable minimum salary addition, but I'm not sure it'd be wise to offer him more.