Utah Jazz mailbag: Will the Jazz be active at the trade deadline? How can they stop a team like the Celtics?

First Published      Last Updated Feb 14 2017 02:02 pm

Tribune Jazz beat reporter Tony Jones will answer readers' questions in a Twitter mailbag each week. You can submit questions using the hashtag #TonyTalks. Here is the this week's questions.

Tony's reply • This is a complicated answer and one that maybe won't be answered until next season.

In a vacuum, he's absolutely a valued piece of the Jazz core. And when Favors is healthy, the Jazz are awfully difficult to play against. The biggest proof of that was how Utah dismantled the Hawks in Atlanta a week ago, when Favors put up 20 points and 10 rebounds. He gives this team another gear when he is healthy and playing well.

But it's difficult to deny his current reality. He's not fully healthy, and he's not going to be this season. So the Jazz will have to manage his minutes, gauge his pain threshold and rest him here and there.

The hope is to keep him as close to 100 percent as possible for the postseason, where games are more spread out and there's more rest time.

But longterm, the Jazz are going to have to figure out what's best for Favors, as well as the organization.

Tony's reply • I think there is a decent chance they will. The Jazz are below the salary cap floor, and that makes it easier to make a move.

Perhaps they try to acquire another shooter. Perhaps another point guard or another big man to add to their bench.

General manager Dennis Lindsey is not adverse to making deadline deals — he's done so the last two years. What makes things difficult is the Jazz have had so little time together as a complete unit because of injury.

We don't have a strong sample size to determing how this team looks when fully healthy. The preferred starting lineup of George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Favors and Rudy Gobert only has played nine games together.

But the fact that the Jazz aren't at the salary floor and that there are obvious deficiencies in some spots of the roster means there's at least a chance Utah is a player on trade deadline day, which is March 1.

Tony's reply • The Jazz had that last season with Elijah Millsap. Although you always can use one of those, they don't grow on trees, and the Jazz have so many wings right now who command playing time that it doesn't make a ton of sense.

Hayward is pretty close to being a great defender — one of his many talents.

And Joe Ingles has been great defensively this season.

Add that to Hill and Gobert, and I'm not sure the Jazz see that as a specific need at this point. The Jazz have the top scoring defense in the NBA.

Tony's reply • Great question. We've seen the Boston Celtics hammer the Jazz, along with the Memphis Grizzlies with shooting big men who play above the 3-point line. It draws Gobert out of the paint, which creates extra space and driving lanes.

The Celtics have been the best at this. What Utah can do is switch everything from point guard to center, which keeps bodies on shooters but also causes mismatches across the floor.

The Jazz have been smart in staying true to themselves. It is an issue. But it's also an issue that only a few teams around the league present.

The Celtics are rare. Most teams have one shooting big man. Boston has two in Al Horford and Amir Johnson. And Isaiah Thomas is one of the best point guards in the league, which makes the team so difficult to guard.

Not even the Golden State Warriors can do to Gobert what the Celtics are able to do to him. In that sense, chalk it up to an anomaly ... and thank the stars that Boston is in another conference ... and move on.