SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz have signed Jared Butler to a two-year guaranteed deal, his agency announced Thursday morning.
Usually, signing a second-round pick isn't cause for much celebration but this might be the rare exception.
Unlike first-round selections, NBA teams don't get specific exceptions to sign second-round picks. The Jazz are well into the luxury tax and already used their entire taxpayer mid-level exception on Rudy Gay, so Utah was left with one avenue to sign Butler: a minimum deal of either one or two years.
Now, as the No. 40 pick, Butler likely couldn't have gotten any more money than that if the Jazz did have another way to sign him, but Utah could have added on some years. For example, Miles McBride, JT Thor and Isaiah Livers (picks No. 36, 37 and 42 in the 2021 draft) were all signed by their respective teams to three-year contracts.
And the number of years was the big factor here. In fact, if Butler had agreed to only a one-year commitment, Utah could have been in a bit of a bind.
Here's why: say the Jazz were over the tax line again next offseason and another team came to Butler with an offer of the full mid-level exception at around $10 million. The Jazz wouldn't have Butler's Bird Rights and therefore would only have had the $6 million taxpayer mid-level exception to match. Those don't exactly equal — and therefore, Butler would be gone.
Even if Butler was offered an amount equal to the taxpayer mid-level, the Jazz would be forced to make the decision on using that exception to re-sign Butler or sign another player to get better.
Butler will be 21 next offseason, and if he showed that he was physically able to play in the NBA — the reason why he dropped so far — he would likely command much more than a minimum deal on the open market. So signing the shortest deal possible could have been Butler's quickest path to a big pay day. So there were reasons for Butler and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, to try and push for the one-year contract.
So it's a good thing for the team all of that has been avoided. Utah gets to lock up the promising rookie and gets a bit of team control down the road.
With Butler on the books for two seasons, Utah will have his Early-Bird rights when he hits restricted free agency and that will allow the team to match a full mid-level offer. So if he does end up being a good NBA player, it'll be easy to keep him in Utah.