The Utah Jazz has become a team in transition after losing Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics in last summer’s free agency. Their acquisition of Donovan Mitchell as the 13th overall pick of the 2017 draft has somehow lessened the impact of Hayward’s departure, with the former Louisville standout showing some signs that he can be the club’s future franchise player.
However, even with Mitchell’s Rookie-of-the-Year worthy performance this season (he averages 19.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.5 steals in 31.4 minutes per game as the Jazz’s starting shooting guard), some crucial deals would surely have to happen in order for the team to go back to their competitive selves in the Western Conference.
Right now, the team is five games behind the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers with an 18-26 record. They have lost five of their last six games with Rudy Gobert still out because of recurring knee issues and Mitchell solely carrying the Jazz, particularly on offense.
SB Nation reported that in today’s “buyer market,” Utah would be “sellers” as the team is reportedly trying to obtain the necessary pieces to build around the duo of Mitchell and Gobert.
Utah is not lacking on potential trade assets with several Jazz players rumored to be on the trading block, namely veterans Derrick Favors and Joe Johnson and young players Rodney Hood, Dante Exum, and Tony Bradley. These five players had been linked to different teams in the past few weeks, but no trades have officially happened.
In a separate article, SB Nation’s SLC Dunk blog suggested a trade that would send Favors and Hood to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for starting shooting guard J.R. Smith and the Cavs’ 2018 first-round pick from Brooklyn.
While some analysts believe that the Brooklyn pick’s value has slightly diminished because of the Nets’ decent showing this year, it would still command a lot of worth for the Jazz as they continue their rebuild. Favors is a top trade asset and is still one of the most reliable big men in the NBA today, but his incompatibility with Gobert has made him expendable in Utah.
As for Smith, the 14-year veteran is arguably playing the worst season of his career. He is currently scoring a career-worst 7.6 points per game on 37.5 percent field goal shooting, which is the second-worst of his career.
However, some basketball pundits have opined that a change in environment is perhaps what Smith needs to go back to his former hot-shooting self. Moving the former Sixth Man of the Year awardee to Utah may give him the rejuvenation that his career calls for at the moment.