The Jazz’s offseason makeover hasn’t come without significant cost, having now claimed Derrick Favors, Ricky Rubio, Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Raul Neto, and Grayson Allen from the 2018-19 roster, plus a pair of first-round picks.
Of course, that makes all the acclaim the team is getting all the more remarkable.
Acquiring Mike Conley in a predraft trade with the Memphis Grizzlies was significant on its own. Following that up with Sunday’s free agent additions of sharpshooting forward Bojan Bogdanovic and elite-rebounding big man Ed Davis has vaulted the Jazz into some flattering hot takes from national pundits — including more than a few now ready to consider the team capable of winning it all.
“Low key… the @utahjazz are building a championship contender,” tweeted former lottery pick-turned-ESPN host Jay Williams.
NBA Twitter personality Rob Perez, who has more than 403,000 followers of his @WorldWideWob account, tweeted: “not gonna lie ‘the Utah Jazz might be the best team in the Western Conference right now’ was something i did not anticipate coming out of my mouth today.”
When the “NBA on ESPN” account tweeted out, “The Utah Jazz have been making moves this offseason. How far can their squad go?” ESPN “First Take” host Max Kellerman quote-tweeted the simple response, “Far.”
COMINGS AND GOINGS
The 2019-20 Utah Jazz will look significantly different from the team that finished playing back in mid-April. Here’s a list of those who’ve come and those who’ve gone:
PG Mike Conley
SF/PF Bojan Bogdanovic
C/PF Ed Davis
PF Jarrell Brantley
PG/SG Justin Wright-Foreman
SG Miye Oni
PF/C Derrick Favors
PG Ricky Rubio
PF/SF Jae Crowder
SF Kyle Korver
PG Raul Neto
SG Grayson Allen
C Ekpe Udoh
SF/PF Thabo Sefolosha
The Bogdanovic signing a short time after the free agency negotiating session “officially” opened got the plaudits flowing.
“LOVE the Bogdanovic pickup for Utah,” said David Aldridge of The Athletic. “… Can only imagine driving lanes for Conley and Mitchell with Bogie and Ingles on the floor.”
One of Aldridge’s colleagues at The Athletic, Dave DuFour, was more enamored still.
“Utah is my favorite, currently, to win the West,” he wrote. “They made significant upgrades.”
ESPN’s Royce Young agreed: “As things stand right now, they’re probably the West favorite.”
After the Ed Davis agreement was announced, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix offered their praise of a deal that won’t garner big headlines but which will prove to be a valuable addition.
“Davis brings the Jazz a big physical presence who’s relentless on the boards, defends and can with — or behind — center Rudy Gobert,” wrote Wojnarowski.
Mannix said the move further bolstered what the team had already done.
“Ed Davis is a really nice pickup in Utah,” he wrote. “Rebounds, defends, tremendous in the locker room. Lakers, Clippers still lurking in free agency but Jazz are quietly assembling a powerhouse.”
The Jazz certainly got high marks for their moves from reporters who cover other NBA teams.
Former Salt Lake Tribune reporter Bill Oram, now a Lakers beat writer for The Athletic, praised the work of the Jazz’s front office in proclaiming: “The way-too-early favorites for 2019-20 executive of the year are [Brooklyn’s] Sean Marks, [New Orleans’] David Griffin and Utah GM Justin Zanik. Those guys have crushed this offseason.”
Jay King (Celtics reporter for The Athletic) and Vic Lombardi (Nuggets analyst for Altitude TV) had similar thoughts, the former writing, “I maintain my stance the Jazz are gonna be a problem,” and the latter condensing that down to, “Utah gonna be a problem.”
Josh Lewenberg, who covers the Raptors for TSN, said the Jazz have had the best summer of any team in the league to this point: “The Utah Jazz, and NOT the Brooklyn Nets, are the winners of the offseason so far. … They could win the West.”
Of course, the Jazz likely aren’t done considering they have just 10 guaranteed roster spots accounted for at the moment. However, Sunday’s additions likely mean that any players yet to come from the free-agency pool will have to be of the veteran-minimum-salary variety.
Might the Jazz add another point guard to replace Neto, considering the respective injury histories of Conley and Dante Exum? Perhaps someone else capable of filling a stretch-four role? Another guy capable of running with Royce O’Neale on the wings? Then again, maybe some of those spots will simply be filled by the team’s recent trio of second-round picks or some Summer League standout.
Regardless, whether the Jazz wind up making more moves or not, the ones they’ve already made have impressed already.
Shane Young, an NBA analyst now working for Forbes Sports, took note of pundits’ propensity for making winners and losers lists and comparative assessments of offseason moves when he tweeted, “Give Utah all of the A+ grades this month.”