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Jazz trade away Miye Oni to save some money and get flexibility

Utah Jazz guard Miye Oni (81) dribbles against Phoenix Suns center Damian Jones (30) during an NBA preseason game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020.

Utah Jazz guard Miye Oni (81) dribbles against Phoenix Suns center Damian Jones (30) during an NBA preseason game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. (Yukai Peng, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — The first move of the Danny Ainge era has been completed.

The Utah Jazz have traded reserve wing Miye Oni to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team announced on Tuesday

Along with Oni, the Jazz will send a 2028 second-round pick to Oklahoma City. According to ESPN, the Thunder will waive Oni.

So what's in it for the Jazz?

After playing in 54 games in the 2020-21 season, Oni was no longer in the rotation. The Jazz signed the former No. 58 pick to a partially guaranteed deal because of his defensive potential. While he showed that at times, he also showed his limitation.

Oni never developed a serviceable enough 3-point shot and he had a hard time defending without fouling. He only appeared in 16 games this season and all his minutes came in garbage time.

By trading him, the Jazz open up another roster spot to potentially get a more helpful player.

The Thunder aren't sending anyone back in the deal — Utah got "cash considerations" in return — which will give the Jazz two open roster spots. Those could be beneficial for deals leading up to the trade deadline as well as the buyout market. Utah can also choose to convert Trent Forrest's two-way deal into a regular deal, if it so chooses. Forrest has played a small rotation spot this season.

But the Jazz could have simply waived him and had all those same benefits. The real reason for the trade: money.

If Utah had waived Oni outright, its tax bill would have been $30.3 million. With the trade, the tax penalty gets reduced to $27.9 million. By trading Oni, the Jazz won't pay anything in taxes for his contract. Utah saved $2.4 million by making the deal. The Thunder essentially agreed to take the cap hit for Utah for a future second rounder.

The deal also means more moves are coming — and soon.

NBA rules dictate a team can only have two roster spots open for a maximum of two weeks. So another addition has to come befor ethen. That could be converting Forrest's deal, signing a player to a 10-day contract or a full contract, or by making a trade. Regardless, Utah will need to make a move, and make one quick.

Donovan Mitchell wins Western Conference Player of the Month

For the first time in his career, Donovan Mitchell has been named Western Conference Player of the Month.

Mitchell averaged 30.2 points, 5.0 assists and shot on 50.2 percent from the field during December, helping Utah to a 12-2 record during the month.

It's the first time a Jazz player has won the monthly award since Deron Williams in November of 2010.

Philadelphia's Joel Embiid was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month.

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