You can’t blame the Jazz for standing pat while everyone else was wheeling and dealing. That certainly wasn’t the case leading up to Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, when the headline names to change addresses were J.J. Redick, Sebastian Telfair and Jordan Crawford.
The criticism, from media pundits and fans alike, is that the Jazz didn’t make a move despite being one of the few teams that seemingly needed to make one.
That need didn’t stem from Utah’s recent play (the Jazz have won six of their last nine contests). It came from what is becoming a perennial surplus of starting-quality frontcourt players.
Al Jefferson is still here. So is Paul Millsap. Both are productive, dependable veterans. They’re also in the last year of their respective contracts, meaning there is a real possibility one or both could leave…leaving Utah nothing to show for it.
It’s a stark contrast to 24 hours ago (and every day in the previous two years), when the Jazz had the power to exchange at least one of them for a more essential piece. An outside shooter. A pass-first point guard. Something that isn’t a power forward or center.
Instead, Utah waited, until the decision was no longer theirs. If Millsap and Jefferson leave this summer, the Jazz will not miss them for the holes they fill. Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors are waiting in the wings, eager to step in.
What was missed, however, was the chance to control the terms by which Millsap/Jefferson depart and, consequently, the opportunity to profit from them leaving.
Offseason sign-and-trade deals are still possible. The Jazz will have spending money when their post players’ contracts expire.
At that point, however, the power lies with the players, not the team. Jefferson and Millsap have to agree to any contract proposed in a sign-and-trade. Free agents have to agree/want to come to Utah. After a certain point of trying, there’s only so much the Jazz will be able to do before it’s out of their hands.
Let the record show that at 1:00 p.m. MST on Thursday, Utah chose to let that be the case.