Utah Jazz keeping options open as draft approaches
When the lotto balls bounced unfavorably in 2006, the Utah Jazz made their own luck, trading up three spots to grab point guard Deron Williams.
Last year, sitting at the edge of the lottery, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey worked the phones until he was smiling and Trey Burke was headed to Salt Lake City.
Could the Jazz make another move this time around?
With this year's NBA Draft just days away, there's no doubt Lindsey and company are weighing their options.
"We're not married to moving up, moving back, moving out," the general manager said after the lottery, and the idea holds true now. "We just want to line up a bunch of good alternatives."
More and more, it seems, alternatives are out there.
Just a few weeks ago, the depth and talent of this year's draft class seemed like it would inhibit trade activity, with teams anxious to hold onto their own picks. But increasingly, there seem to be options for Lindsey and the Jazz front office to explore.
And the team's decision will come to down to one thing.
"At the end of the day it's the net sum, are you better?" Lindsey told 1280 The Zone this week.
The Jazz have been rumored to be in talks with Cleveland, reportedly offering up the No. 5 pick and forward Derrick Favors to move up to the top of the draft, where they could have their pick of Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker.
Meanwhile, the news of Joel Embiid's latest injury a foot fracture requiring surgery this week will undoubtedly shake up the lottery. A week ago, Embiid was all but a lock to be the draft's first overall pick. But the 7-footer's injury could send him in something of a free fall, with some mock drafts predicting he could drop all the way to No. 10. In between, teams should have plenty of chances to move up and grab the young center if they believe his history of health issues doesn't outweigh his incredible potential.
The Jazz will also have to weigh the possibility of moving back.
At No. 5, the Jazz should have their choice of forwards Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh and Aaron Gordon, a trio of young big men with the potential to develop into big-time players.
But should the Jazz move back, there could be players with more definable skill sets waiting, such as Michigan guard Nik Stauskas and Creighton forward Doug McDermott, both of whom are among the draft's best shooters.
Posturing elsewhere could provide opportunities for the Jazz.
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Heat superstar LeBron James could opt out of their contracts, becoming free agents this summer, and both Chicago and Houston are said to be interested. Those teams would have to clear cap space, meaning the Jazz or another team could pick up an extra first rounder in exchange for taking on a bloated salary.
And while Lindsey has said the Jazz will eventually need to transition out of an asset acquisition phase, the general manager has shown a willingness to deal before, taking on a trio of Golden State Warriors last year in exchange for picks.
P Thursday, 5 p.m.
TV • ESPN
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