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After a 4-game losing streak without Rudy Gobert on the squad, some Jazz weaknesses are clearer than ever before.
In particular, the team has played awful defense, with a defensive rating without Gobert available that would rank last in the league. Can they find a way to get stronger on that end of the floor? Can they find a trade that gets it done?
In years past, I hosted a radio show which had a weekly segment we called “Crazy Trade Idea of the Week.” The idea was simple — we’d take one fan trade idea on the show, and discuss whether or not it made sense for the teams involved for five minutes. This article is in that spirit. Note that these are not reported rumors: these are simply trade ideas that legally work under the NBA’s trade rules.
Danny Green and Charles Bassey for Joe Ingles
Danny Green and Joe Ingles are perhaps two of the best well-known 3-and-D players in the NBA, but both have regressed some in recent years. In the end, this deal just swaps them, based on their slightly different skillsets which fit each other’s team better than their current team at the moment.
Green, 34, is no longer as good at the non-3 parts of his offensive game, and his 3-point shooting percentage is at 38% this year — just below his career averages of 40%. His defense may have slipped some as well, but is still generally regarded as very helpful.
Meanwhile, Ingles, 34, has regressed more on the defensive side of the ball, but still retains good shooting and, importantly, great dribbling and playmaking skills that Green has never had. While Philadelphia lacks Ben Simmons, they’ve had to rely on non-traditional playmakers like Seth Curry to run the show — Ingles would give them another reliable guy to run pick-and-roll with Joel Embiid. He’d be great at it.
The salaries don’t work out exactly to make the trade legal one-for-one, as Ingles makes a little more than Green. Bassey is in the deal to make the salaries work; if the Sixers would rather trade someone else, that’s fine too.
Ingles expires after this year, Green’s deal lasts for one more. That would put the Jazz deep into the luxury tax next season, something they’d like to avoid — but I think that can be addressed in the offseason. Green is the kind of player who always has a market.
Josh Richardson and Bruno Fernando for Joe Ingles
Maybe you don’t like that deal — or maybe Philadelphia thinks it can get the playmaker it needs in the Ben Simmons trade. Here’s another option that probably works in a similar manner: Josh Richardson.
Richardson is younger, 28, and isn’t the shooter that Danny Green is. He’s more of a slasher on offense. His shooting sometimes looks great, and sometimes is well off the mark. But with the Miami Heat, Richardson impressed with terrific on-ball defense, and he’s been pretty good at that with the Celtics this year, too. He’ll also probably become the Jazz’s best perimeter defense option.
Meanwhile, the Celtics desperately lack connection on offense; they play on that end without cohesiveness. Ingles is great at moving the ball and creating space for his teammates, and has the pass-first mentality needed on the Cs.
Just as with Green, Richardson has added another year to his deal. Ingles also makes just enough more than Richardson to the point where the Celtics would be over the luxury tax line, and they’d probably prefer not to be. As a result, Bruno Fernando gets added to the trade.
Nicolas Batum for Eric Paschall, Elijah Hughes, a 2025 second-round pick, and a 2026 second-round pick
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report has done some great reporting in the last couple of years, and his latest report out of L.A. piqued my interest.
“They’re pretty much open for business for anyone except their main guys and Terance Mann. I think they really are fine falling out of the playoffs and regrouping for next year,” one Western Conference official told Fischer. “I think they’re trying to shed the Marcus Morrises of the world, guys that have some value and maybe can replace them with younger talent, maybe cheaper [contracts], to free them to get someone else this summer.”
Well, how about Nicolas Batum? Jazz fans know how important Batum can be to a team’s playoff success, as he was a linchpin of the team’s efforts to beat the Jazz last season. Batum has a solid relationship with Gobert, and of course, can make open threes at high levels.
He also is a long, defense-first player, the kind of player which the Jazz don’t have right now. He’d be the best Jazz non-Gobert defender by miles. He also only makes just over $3 million.
To get this incredible fit, the Jazz have to give up some good young players and future second-round picks. That’s Paschall, Hughes, and the two remaining second round picks of their own the Jazz use — if L.A. would prefer Memphis’ second-round pick this year, earned in the Jared Butler trade, so be it. On the other hand, I don’t think it would be wise to trade the Jazz’s 2026 first-round pick for Batum, as that comes far enough down the road that it could be after the Jazz’s contention cycle is over.
Kenrich Williams for Udoka Azubuike and removed protections on the Jazz’s 2024 pick
Can you believe that there’s a player that, when he plays, makes the Oklahoma City Thunder an actually decent NBA team? No, that’s not Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — the Thunder are outscored by 6.4 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor.
But Kenrich Williams? Well, the Thunder actually outscore teams by 2.2 points per 100 possessions when he’s out there. He’s a sparkplug defensive player — with a nickname of Kenny Hustle — and a good 3-point shooter, too: 38% from deep this year after 44% last year.
The Thunder are said to be seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Williams, and they may well get it. The Jazz’s next tradable first-round pick is in 2026, and as we’ve discussed, there’s a little bit too much uncertainty there.
But, wait! Remember how the Jazz have already traded the Thunder a first-round pick? They paid them one in order for that club to take on Derrick Favors’ salary. That pick is protected for picks 1-10 in 2024 — if the Jazz are bad, they’ll keep it.
What if the Jazz removed those protections — and placed a bet on their own future? Essentially, they’d be saying that there’s a good chance that they’ll still be a good team in the 2023-24 season, and this deal won’t change anything for either side. The Jazz would get Kenrich Williams for the low, low cost of one Azubuike, who rarely plays.
As we all know, though, there are no assurances in the NBA, and certainly not with this Jazz team. What if Gobert gets hurt in the 2023-24 season, for example? What if one, or both, of Gobert or Mitchell demand a trade? The Jazz could be truly awful. This deal says “if the Jazz have a calamitous season two years down the road, the Thunder would get the franchise-altering pick, not Utah.” The Thunder would be buying a lottery ticket; meanwhile, the Jazz get a rotation-caliber player that would set the tone defensively now.