NBA trade deadline comes and goes with no further deals for Utah Jazz

Ingles and Hughes for Alexander-Walker and Hernangomez the Jazz’s only move of deadline period

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Former BYU basketball player Danny Ainge who was just named CEO of the Utah Jazz is congratulated prior to the Jazz game against the LA Clippers at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.

Suffice it to say, it was a busy deadline day around the NBA, with high-profile deals involving the likes of James Harden, Ben Simmons and Kristaps Porzingis.

The Utah Jazz, though, stayed quiet Thursday.

In the end, the Jazz’s deadline deal was made 24 hours early, sending longtime stalwart Joe Ingles and second-year player Elijah Hughes to the Portland Trail Blazers, while receiving Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Juancho Hernangomez back in the deal. Alexander-Walker arrived in Utah on Wednesday night, while Hernangomez was still considered en route.

Alexander-Walker is a compelling young prospect who hasn’t really performed to expectations in his NBA career so far — the Jazz will be hoping that they can turn his career around with a new coaching staff and environment in Utah. Hernangomez was largely acquired for his salary, but it’s not unimaginable to see him playing a third-string role as a stretch four who can rebound a little, too.

But it’s hard to imagine either Alexander-Walker or Hernangomez finishing games for the Jazz right away, as more compelling options than they already have on the roster. Their defensive weaknesses exposed in playoffs past may still exist.

On the other hand, Trent Forrest appears to have emerged as a potential option — despite the lack of a jump shot, he’s proven capable in every other NBA skillset. The team can point to the Jazz’s terrific defensive performance on Wednesday night against a shorthanded Golden State Warriors team that they can defend together well, even without Rudy Gobert available. Danuel House — now technically a free agent but expected to sign with the Jazz soon — could add defensive chops as well. As always, health will play a key role.

Some other contenders did make moves; Brooklyn and Philadelphia made the biggest headlines by swapping stars. Brooklyn sent Harden and Paul Millsap to Philadelphia in exchange for Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round picks. The deal likely means Simmons will end his year-long holdout and play for the Nets soon, giving them defensive bona fides. Meanwhile, Harden will reunite with executive Daryl Morey and play alongside MVP candidate Joel Embiid, giving the Sixers a difficult-to-counter one-two punch.

The Suns picked up two minor pieces in separate deals, acquiring point guard Aaron Holiday from the Wizards and reuniting with defender Torrey Craig in exchange for Jalen Green and a second-round pick. The deals figure to solidify the end of Phoenix’s bench, without losing major competitive pieces.

The Celtics retooled and saved short-term money, acquiring Spurs guard Derrick White and Rockets center Daniel Theis while sending out Josh Richardson to the Spurs, and Dennis Schroeder, Enes Freedom, and Bruno Fernando to the Rockets. They also dumped the salaries of Bol Bol and PJ Dozier — both out for the season — on the Magic, in an exchange of second-round picks. Freedom, meanwhile, was waived by the Rockets upon completion of the deal.

The Mavericks made a curious move, sending Kristaps Porzingis to Washington in exchange for underperforming Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans. The Wizards also sent productive center Montrezl Harrell to Charlotte for a limited return: Vernon Carey Jr. and Ish Smith.

The Raptors spent a first-round pick to acquire Thaddeus Young from the Spurs, along with a second-round pick. Goran Dragic and Drew Eubanks were also swapped in the deal, but both are expected to be waived or bought out.

Milwaukee and L.A. completed a four-team deal early in the day, as the Clippers sent Serge Ibaka to the Bucks, while Milwaukee sent Donte DiVincenzo to the Kings. Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye ended up on the Clippers in the deal, while the Kings also received Detroit’s Trey Lyles and Josh Jackson. Sacramento relinquished former No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III in the deal.

But for Utah, relative quiet: and a bet that their current roster will suffice come April, May and June.