The Derrick Rose element of the Jazz’s trade involving Cleveland and Sacramento was the part nobody could have seen coming Thursday. The question about how — if at all — the Jazz intended to use Rose made the deal mildly mysterious.
And then it became apparent that the Jazz would release Rose. So isolating the deal as Rodney Hood for Jae Crowder, disregarding the two months that the Jazz would kept Joe Johnson, the whole thing made sense.
I’m not sure anybody around here expected the Jazz to be receiving actual players in return for trading Hood or anyone else. Crowder’s arrival certainly makes it more interesting and encouraging, in the sense of general manager Dennis Lindsey’s not dismissing a playoff push in 2018.
This transaction is not a clear-cut victory for the Jazz, considering their weakness is outside shooting. Hood, when he was on his game, provided it. Yet the obvious conclusion is that the team was ready to move on from Hood when he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. This way, the Jazz are getting something for him.
Even though Johnson’s career is at a much different stage, the story is basically the same with him. Johnson gave the Jazz everything they could have hoped for last season, but he suddenly looked a lot more than one year older this season.
So this move is designed with the future in mind, without really compromising the present. The Jazz have played their way into some playoff possibilities with a seven-game winning streak. They’re still 10th in the Western Conference, 2½ games out of the No. 8 spot. But they have 17 home games remaining and only 11 road games, after enduring a rough schedule in December and January.
Crowder, a second-generation Jazzman, just seems like a Quin Snyder player. He’s a tough, versatile defender and he’s durable, the only issue being whether or not he can be a consistent shooter. He fit that description in Boston last season, with 39.8-percent accuracy from 3-point range — far exceeding his career norms. He has dipped to 32.8 percent in Cleveland, but that’s partly a function of the Cavaliers’ offense.
Crowder should fit in well with the Jazz, with the added bonus of family history. I recently ranked Corey Crowder No. 3 on the all-time list of Jazz players as parents of athletes, behind Dell Curry and Karl Malone and ahead of John Stockton. Corey Crowder played in 51 games as a reserve forward for the Jazz in 1991-92, the first season they reached the Western Conference finals.
Jazz fans would have felt at least a little better about Gordon Hayward’s departure to Boston in free agency last summer if the team could have landed Jae Crowder in a sign-and-trade arrangement. So they’ve lost Hayward and Hood and landed Crowder, which is a lopsided deal, except when you consider Crowder’s bargain contract. He’ll cost the Jazz only $7.8 million in 2019-20, the last year of his contract.
So I’m endorsing the trade. First, though, some appreciation for Hood and Johnson: The Jazz wouldn’t have claimed their first playoff series victory — or even their first playoff win, period — in seven years without those guys. They were especially vital in the Game 4 victory in Salt Lake City as Hayward exited early due to illness and in the Game 5 win in Los Angeles. And Johnson’s buzzer-beating shot in Game 1 remains indelible, coming on a night when Rudy Gobert was injured in the first 10 seconds of the series vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.
Those are good memories, and Hood and Johnson won’t be forgotten around here. The only hope is that Crowder will have that kind of impact in the playoffs, whether that’s in April or further into the future.