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Utah Jazz trade deadline roundup: Breaking down the latest rumors and reports

Will the Jazz be sellers? The Trib’s Andy Larsen dives into the details.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (11) defended by LA Clippers guard Brandon Boston Jr. (4) as the Utah Jazz host the Los Angeles Clippers, NBA basketball in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023.

Danny Ainge has a reputation around the NBA.

The Jazz basketball CEO was already known as a tough negotiator after his time in Boston — Trader Danny was the relevant nickname. But after this summer’s Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell deals, you might even say Ainge has an aura.

Insert this report from NBA reporter Marc Stein:

“The first two league executives I spoke to last week ... basically had the same reaction. They said that, in their respective organizations, there’s a half-joking (but also half-serious) policy when it comes to Jazz CEO Danny Ainge that goes something like this: If Ainge is calling about a trade ... let it go to voicemail.”

And yet, by all accounts, the Jazz are trying to be active at this trade deadline period — there may be no organization with more noise around them. That’s because, while the Jazz have been pleasantly surprised by their season so far, being better than expectations is not the ultimate goal. In the end, that’s to win a championship.

So what might the Jazz do before the Feb. 9 deadline, now less than two weeks away?

Nearly everyone available

According to Stein, there’s “a rising belief leaguewide that Utah is open to listening to trade pitches for anyone on the roster not named Lauri Markkanen or Walker Kessler.” Stein, on Thursday, added one other name to that list, according to his reporting: Ochai Agbaji.

The surprises on that list of everyone else available might include Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton, both scoring guards for the Jazz. While I don’t think it’s particularly notable that Clarkson and the Jazz haven’t agreed to an extension (NBA rules dictate that it probably makes sense for him to wait until the offseason), it still may make sense to move Clarkson if the Jazz get an offer for him that they like. NBA sixth men of Clarkson’s stature generally have aged well, but the Jazz still would be paying for his age 31-34 seasons on his next deal if the two sides were able to come to an agreement.

Meanwhile, Sexton hasn’t quite popped as hoped in Utah. Remember, before the season began, Sexton was actually the fanbase’s leading preference among all players for who should start; instead, Sexton has played most of his games off the bench. The former Alabama guard is having the most efficient season of his career, but has drawn coach Will Hardy’s ire at times. As part of the Mitchell trade, Sexton signed a 4-year, $72 million deal with the Jazz.

Both players aren’t must-trades for the Jazz by any means. Instead, Ainge and company will look for significant return if either is traded.

John Collins

Atlanta’s John Collins has been the name most frequently linked to Utah; The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Jazz “have been the most engaged team recently on a potential Collins trade, league sources say.”

In fact, we know of a couple of different potential frameworks for such a deal. One scenario discussed is to send Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley to Atlanta for Collins, the 25-year-old former 20-point scorer. In that scenario, though, the Jazz would ask for a pick in return, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. That’s thanks to Collins’ new contract, in which he’s owed $25-26 million per season over the next three years.

Meanwhile, Stein reported that the Cavaliers (a familiar Jazz trade partner) are weighing a three-team trade that would involve them acquiring Jazz guard Malik Beasley and Utah ultimately getting Collins. Meanwhile, the Cavs would have to give up two of Cedi Osman, Ricky Rubio, Isaac Okoro, and Dylan Windler in the deal to make salaries match under NBA rules.

Mike Conley

Meanwhile, there appears to be significant interest in the league for Mike Conley. In particular, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus reported that the Lakers, Clippers, and Timberwolves would have interest in upgrading their point guard spot with Conley. Stein first reported the Clippers’ interest; Charania first reported the Timberwolves’.

Conley’s contract isn’t cheap, though — he’s the highest-paid Jazz player at $22 million this season, while $14 of his $24 million deal is guaranteed next season. So the deals that the Jazz might be able to swing for Conley may be limited.

With the Lakers, the Jazz would likely have to send another piece along with Conley, and acquire Russell Westbrook’s expiring contract along with other assets. The Clippers’ deal we covered a couple of weeks ago: Robert Covington or Reggie Jackson (who both make about $12 million per year), John Wall, and Jason Preston (or Amir Coffey or Brandon Boston or whichever near-minimum contract) works pretty evenly.

With Minnesota, it would probably have to be D’Angelo Russell’s expiring contract. That’s kind of an interesting proposition: Russell is the more high-powered scorer, but Conley is the far better facilitator — and definitely the better teammate.

Regardless, the Jazz seem relatively willing to move Conley, in hope of saving cap room for next season and upgrading at the guard positions. The interest in him now seems to be higher than it was in the summer, when the Jazz couldn’t find any good deals for the veteran, productive point guard.

Jarred Vanderbilt

According to Tribune sources, Jarred Vanderbilt is among the Jazz’s most available players; the team wants to move on from starting him, and instead start rookie standout Walker Kessler. The Miami Herald reported that the Heat have been linked with Vanderbilt, HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto reported that Indiana would be interested.

Vanderbilt is just 23 years old, and will make only $4 million this season and next. But he hasn’t had the impact hoped: despite his own affinity for rebounds, the Jazz have been a better rebounding team when he’s off the floor. His shooting has certainly developed this season, but he looks some distance away from being a legitimate long-distance threat.

Malik Beasley

Meanwhile, the league’s 4th-ranked player in terms of 3-point shots made, Malik Beasley, is also available. Scotto reported that the Jazz are looking for a first-round pick or its equivalent in any trade for either Beasley or Vanderbilt. The Hawks — see above — as well as the Suns are said to be interested in acquiring both players.

There is perhaps more reported interest around the league in Beasley, though. Scotto said the Cavaliers, Pelicans, and Knicks may well be interested in trading for the guard.

Perhaps furthest along are conversations between the Jazz and the Mavericks. In particular, the Jazz may swap Beasley to Dallas in exchange for 29-year-old 3-and-D player Dorian Finney-Smith — a possibility first reported by Charania. Dallas, though, is asking for more value, according to sources.