It’s no secret that the Jazz have let some premiere players go in the last several seasons. Whether it was Paul Millsap becoming a near All-Nba player or Wes Matthews developing into an All-star, nearly everyone the Jazz let go seemed to go on to have more success on their next team.
So let’s go back in time change the Jazz destiny and find out why these players didn’t work out and what the team would look like today if we had kept some of the standouts we let go?
Matthews was exactly what a team hopes for when they pick up an undrafted free-agent. When he debuted for the Jazz he was both an above average shooter and defender as a rookie and started 48 games.
The Jazz thought they had struck gold until Portland seemingly overpaid Wes Matthews by him offering him a poison-pill contract that Utah refused to match.
Matthews true shooting percentage has always been quite good but with increased usage, he really flourished in Portland becoming a go-to three-point shooter. Despite a season-ending injury last season he had a solid season with Dallas this year.
Kyle Korver was one of the few free agents brought in during the Deron Williams era. Korver was always a great three-point shooter but was kept on the bench because of his anemic defense.
After only three seasons in Utah Korver’s dead eye was no longer enough to keep him around and he was signed by Chicago.
Since Korver has been in Atlanta he has been given the green light when it comes to shooting and he has thrived. In 2015, he logged a true shooting percentage of .699! Stephen Curry had a career-high true shooting percentage of .669 this year. Even Korver’s defense has been passable as Atlanta has been, on average, eighth in defensive efficiency over past three years, according to espn.com.
In 2011, the Junkyard Dog signed in Utah and quickly became our best wing defender and a needed source of energy for the Jazz.
After only a year and a half in Utah, the Jazz decided to move on from Carroll and let him sign with Atlanta. This opened up a starting role for Gordon Hayward and has probably allowed him to develop into an All-Star-caliber player.
Carroll soon became one of the league’s premiere wing defenders and an above average three-point shooter.
Millsap always seemed to give us more than we expected from the time we drafted him up until his final year in Utah. He was a tough worker who consistently got the most out of his seemingly small and unathletic body.
In 2013, the Jazz let go of Millsap and he signed with the Atlanta Hawks. The move was to free up playing time for the younger, and supposedly more talented, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
Millsap was criminally misused while in Utah and understandably we thought he may never be an elite defender. The Draymond Green small-ball era hadn’t begun and we were still reeling from the memory of another undersized power forward’s poor defense. I’m looking at you, Carlos Boozer.
In the year he went from Utah to Atlanta his usage rate went from 22.4 to 25.7 and his three-point rate nearly tripled according to basketball-reference.com. This means not only has he been used more in Atlanta but he’s been used more efficiently.
Williams was drafted by the Jazz but played for the team again in the 2011-2012 season.
Williams was always a good but not great player for the Jazz. He was an above average shooter and a streaky shooter who could really catch fire. He scored 52 against the Pacers in 2015.
Since he left the Jazz Williams hasn’t really been a world beater but has remained a good shooter and up until this year has been better than any of the point guards on the Jazz.
Would the Jazz have been able to afford all of these players? Probably not without them taking significant discounts or the Jazz going well into the luxury-tax.
For this year the salary cap was $67,000 and the Jazz were about 2,000 dollars below the salary cap. If they had kept a couple of these players they would have had to clear some cap space along the way.
If we just kept Hayward, Favors, Gobert and Hood from the current roster we would be on the books for almost $30,000 this year. The cap is about $67,000 leaving us with about 37,000 in cap space. If we assume that Carroll, Korver, Matthews, Millsap and Williams would all have similar deals to the ones they are currently on they would demand about $57,000. If we took away Millsap’s salary or Williams and Matthews we would have enough money and perhaps go into the luxury tax to fill out the roster.
I won’t go in to too much detail about the Jazz salary-cap sittuation but a few weeks ago SLC dunk wrote a detailed break-down of the the subject.
What would the team look like?
I am assuming that we are keeping Favors and Hayward because Hayward was on the roster before any of these players were released and just keeping Matthews probably wouldn’t have prevented the Deron Williams trade. Gobert and Hood were both drafted late in the first round so I am assuming that we would have picked them with our first-round picks instead of picking Burke and Exum.
If to keep chose to keep the Millsap group our roster would be quite a bit different. We would have quite a small-ball lineup with Millsap, Hayward, Carroll, Korver and Favors or we could go big with Gobert, Favors and Millsap with Korver and Hayward.
In this scenario, we wouldn’t really have a point guard and Rodney would probably come off the bench but our shooting and defense would be incredible. One problem our the current Jazz roster has is that there are not enough players who are proficient at spot up shooting. If I were the Jazz I would let Hayward and Millsap be facilitators and not worry about not having a true point guard.
If we chose the Matthews group we could have an incredible three wing team with Matthews, Hayward and Hood/Carroll, Gobert and Favors with Williams coming off the bench. We could also have Williams start and have either Matthews or Hood as our sixth man. One of our biggest problems this year was our wing depth which wouldn’t be close to a problem for this theoretical team.
The interesting thing about these teams is that we would still have problems at the point guard position. The Jazz haven’t really had an opportunity to get or keep an elite point guard since we traded number 8 to Brooklyn.
One drawback to these scenarios is we probably wouldn’t have Lyles or Exum who both seem to have bright futures ahead and who knows if we still would have hired Dennis Lindsey who then hired Quin Snyder.
Although it is interesting to think about what could have been I think the Jazz have made more good decisions than bad ones. This has been especially true since Dennis Lindsey got here. Maybe keeping a player or two along the way would have been a good idea but maybe it would have warped the space-time continuum and created a temporal paradox.