A hectic day for the league, but a quiet one for the Jazz as trade deadline passes

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SALT LAKE CITY — The NBA trade deadline came and went Thursday without the Jazz making any additional moves.

While the NBA landscape was altered with high-profile deals that included James Harden, Ben Simmons and Kristaps Porzingis, the Jazz stayed quiet.

Wednesday's trade that sent Joe Ingles and second-year guard Elijah Hughes to Portland with the Jazz receiving Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Juancho Hernangomez ended up being Utah's lone move of the trade season.

On the surface, replacing a 34-year-old injured forward with a 23-year-old guard with promise is a good move; however, for a team that is hoping to contend, it likely won't move the needle much, especially considering how active other contenders were on Thursday.

  • Brooklyn traded Harden and Paul Millsap to Philadelphia for Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round picks.
  • The Phoenix Suns were also busy adding Aaron Holiday from the Wizards and defensive wing Torrey Craig from the Pacers in separate deals. Phoenix sent out little-used Jalen Green and a second-round pick in the deals.
  • The Dallas Mavericks, who sit just one spot behind the Jazz in the standings, made an odd move by sending Porzingis to Washington for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans in a case of teams swapping players who have underperformed.
  • The LA Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks were involved with a four-team deal that ended with Serge Ibaka in Milwaukee, Donte DiVincenzo, Trey Lyles and Josh Jackson in Sacramento, Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye in Los Angeles and Marvin Bagley III in Detroit.
  • The Boston Celtics traded Josh Richardson to San Antonio for guard Derrick White (proving the Jazz likely didn't have the assets to get Richardson, whom they had been linked with numerous times). Boston also acquired Daniel Thies from the Rockets while sending out Dennis Schroeder, Enes Freedom, and Bruno Fernando to Houston, and shedding the salaries of Bol Bol and PJ Dozier.
  • The Toronto Raptors spent a first-round pick to acquire Thaddeus Young from the Spurs, along with a second-round pick.

With the dust now settled, where do the Jazz stand now? Honestly, about in the same place.

Alexander-Walker, who should be available to play Friday, is an intriguing player. He's got a diverse skill set and has been trapped on a bad team with bad teammates. It's not unreasonable to think the Jazz's developmental staff and playing alongside All-Stars will help him.

He was one of New Orleans' best pick-and-roll players, and he really can get to the hoop (however, he does struggle to finish). Those are things the Jazz can work with. He's been crazy inefficient this season, but you can partially explain that away due to poor isolation play and being asked to shoot too much — Utah won't want him to do either of those things.

So there's reasons to be optimistic about his impact on the team.

"His length and his ability to make a shot, there's a skill-set there, he has some tools," coach Quin Snyder said of the new Jazz guard. "If he can come in and have an impact defensively — that's something that we're constantly telling our whole team. He does have the length and the size to be a really committed defender."

Donovan Mitchell echoed Snyder when he was asked about his new teammate.

"He's a guy that can really go get it on offense," Mitchell said. "A good defender — can definitely be better. He's young, so there's time to grow and time to learn. He'll get his opportunity. He's got to learn the systems and a lot of stuff, but he's gonna be really really solid for us."

Alexander-Walker is 6-foot-5, with a nearly 6-foot-10 wingspan. The Jazz haven't had that type of size on the guard line for some time. So the attributes are there for him to be a contributing player.

That said, it's unlikely that he'll be in a finishing lineup for the team anytime soon. And unless a major leap occurs, it's doubtful that he can fix Utah's main defensive weaknesses.

Utah has seen internal improvement happen quickly, though, with Trent Forrest being the latest example. Forrest was the team's best defender on Steph Curry during Wednesday's win over the Golden State Warriors, and over the last couple weeks he has shown he belongs in an NBA rotation.

Playing on good teams and with good players can accelerate development.

Even with the deadline past, the Jazz aren't quite done adding to the roster. Since Utah has two open roster spots, it needs to add at least one player to be compliant with NBA rules. That could be as simple as converting Forrest from a two-way deal into a standard contract. If the Jazz don't do that, Forrest won't be eligible for the playoffs.

Danuel House Jr. is also a good candidate for a spot after impressing during his three 10-day contracts with the team. He'd help elevate the team's perimeter defense, too

The Jazz still need some help there, especially since they didn't get any reinforcements on Thursday on what ended up being a quiet deadline day.

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