The NBA trade deadline is tomorrow, and you’re on the clock.
Inspired by a similar feature done by Philadelphia 76ers beat writer Rich Hofmann, I reached out to fans on Tuesday on Twitter, asking them to send their favorite trade ideas for the Utah Jazz to explore. (The NBA is a copycat league, right?)
Strangely enough, the NBA executives I’ve spoken to tend to really like these articles: for one, they’re sometimes great entertainment, as they laugh at the zaniness of the ideas presented. But once in a blue moon, some fan comes up with a deal construction they haven’t really considered yet, and it gets some creative juices flowing — and it’s worth it for that, too.
Let’s see how you did.
Jarred Vanderbilt for...
Jarred Vanderbilt is, by all accounts, the Jazz player most likely to be moved before the trade deadline. He has been moved to the bench in favor of Walker Kessler and has now curiously sat out the last two games with low back spasms Now seems like a good time for the Jazz to capitalize on his value, before his minutes are further reduced.
Reportedly, the Jazz have received multiple offers for Vanderbilt — but not one they’ve been eager to jump on yet. Vanderbilt’s value is pretty situational because his lack of a consistent jump shot means it’s hard to play him in lineups with other non-shooters.
• Jarred Vanderbilt to Philadelphia for Furkan Korkmaz, Jaden Springer, and a top-10 protected 2029 first-round pick
• Jarred Vanderbilt to Philadelphia for Matisse Thybulle and a first-round pick
• Jarred Vanderbilt and the Royce O’Neale pick to Portland for Shaedon Sharpe
But these ideas miss the mark a little bit in my opinion. Frankly, Vanderbilt just doesn’t have the value to return a first-round pick and young players in return. (Sharpe, even with the Jazz adding a first-round pick, has been one of the league’s most promising rookies — it’s just hard to see them let him go.)
Deals like these where the Jazz get only one young player in return, seem more plausible:
• Jarred Vanderbilt to Dallas for Josh Green
• Jarred Vanderbilt and Udoka Azubuike to Dallas for Jaden Hardy, JaVale McGee, and a 2024 2nd-round pick
• Jarred Vanderbilt to Sacramento for Davion Mitchell
• Jarred Vanderbilt to Golden State for Moses Moody
That being said, Josh Green has actually improved this year and has been a surprisingly big part of what they do. The Mavs are also said to really like Jaden Hardy.
Sacramento’s Davion Mitchell has seen his playing time cut this season as the Kings have improved; he’s actually older than Vanderbilt, too. For a defensive guard, he’s also pretty undersized. Ultimately, I think it’s the Jazz who don’t do that deal, not the Kings.
The Moses Moody idea intrigues me. The Warriors just sent him down to the G-League to get some playing time. He’s only 20. The Jazz were known to like him in that draft process, even considering a trade that would have sent Joe Ingles to the Warriors in exchange for Moody.
Ultimately, though, I think the most likely Vanderbilt deal is a bit boring: some team buys him for a similarly small salary, likely expiring, and either a heavily protected first-round pick or multiple second-round picks.
Combining Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt
The two players have been traded together twice now, once by the Nuggets to Minnesota in 2020, and once by the Wolves to Utah in 2022. Why not make it a third time?
This fan suggestion, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to Atlanta for John Collins and a 2023 first-round pick, has an obvious source: The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Jazz were asking for a first-round pick in return in a potential Malik/Vando for Collins swap.
But as of right now, the Hawks don’t particularly look like they’re going to give that up. In particular, their new front office is telling teams that they’re less interested in moving Collins than the old one. There’s a rumor going around league water coolers that the Hawks had a deal agreed to in principle involving Collins in a previous trade period, but it was scuttled by owner Tony Ressler. Now, 27-year-old Nick Ressler — Tony’s son — has reportedly become a more significant voice in their front office.
That’s not to say that they won’t move Collins. And, obviously, the line that they’re less interested in selling Collins than before could well be trade-deadline posturing. But I find it more likely that this sort of deal would be completed without the pick or with a more minor pick.
• Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to Dallas for Davis Bertans and an unprotected 2027 first-round pick
• Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to New York for Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, and the Dallas 2023 first-round pick
• Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to Phoenix for Jae Crowder, Dario Saric and a first-round pick
These deals are creative ways for the Jazz to get value out of Beasley and Vanderbilt. The first deal sees them take on a bad salary in Bertans, but an unprotected 2027 first-round pick that could have tremendous value after a potential Luka Doncic departure. It’s a move with a high cost, but a potentially high reward.
Obviously, taking a Dallas 2023 first-rounder is less likely to be a good pick. (Plus, it’s top-10 protected.) But the Jazz would be getting Obi Toppin as well, a hyper-athletic four-man who has struggled to find a footing in New York. Fournier and Bertans are both nearly equal bad salaries. In the highly-reported Donovan Mitchell to New York discussions, it was reported that Jazz CEO Danny Ainge thinks highly of Toppin.
The Suns deal also makes sense, but in this circumstance, I’d expect the Jazz to look at moving Crowder to a team that would want him for the playoffs this season.
• Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Udoka Azubuike to New Orleans for Dyson Daniels, Devonte’ Graham, and Jaxson Hayes
This deal also sees the Jazz acquiring a bad contract in Graham, but ultimately, I think the Pelicans value Daniels too much to consider a deal like this.
Multiple sources have indicated that the Jazz have been in conversations with the Lakers this week. Given their salary structure, there’s really only one possibility there: the Jazz trading multiple good players to the Lakers in exchange for Russell Westbrook’s contract plus long-term pick value.
But which good players, and how much long-term pick value? Here are the fan ideas:
• Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Lakers for Russell Westbrook and the 2027 and 2029 first-round picks
• Mike Conley and Malik Beasley to Lakers for Russell Westbrook, a 2027 first-round pick and 2028 1st round pick swap
• Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, and Kelly Olynyk to Lakers for Russell Westbrook, and pick swap options in 2026, 2027, and 2029
Ultimately, it’s believed that the Lakers are unlikely to give up both of their available first-round picks in a deal for Jazz pieces. In the Kyrie Irving negotiations, the Lakers did offer both of those picks, but the Lakers haven’t offered that to the Jazz so far for their players — before the season, or at this deadline period.
On the other hand, the Jazz getting only one first-round pick back for the players they’d have to send out is probably not enough from a Jazz point of view. So how do you bridge the gap? Two fans suggested pick swaps: one suggested one in 2028 in addition to a first-round pick, while another suggested that the team just swap three picks overall.
It’s an interesting concept. At Salt City Hoops, writer Ken Clayton researched the value of pick swaps in NBA history, and found that a swap was worth approximately one-third of a first-round pick. But swaps, just like unprotected picks, have the most value on the high end: the chances that the Lakers are truly awful at the end of the decade, and the Jazz get a star that way.
Second-round picks could work, too, but it would have to be a significant amount of them to get the Jazz to budge.
One other pathway: a three-team deal that gets the Jazz more value.
One fan suggested this:
Jazz send: Mike Conley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and the Royce O’Neale pick
Jazz receive: Russell Westbrook, Nassir Little, the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 first-round picks, and Portland’s 2024 second-round pick
Portland sends: Nassir Little, a 2024 second-round pick, and a 2027 second-round pick
Portland receives: Jarred Vanderbilt
Lakers send: Russell Westbrook, their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks
Lakers receive: Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the Royce O’Neale pick, and Portland’s 2027 second-round pick
That’s a pretty well-constructed trade: the Portland side of it is the known result of their reported interest in Vanderbilt. The Lakers give up both first-round picks, but get one back this season and a second-round pick down the road for their troubles. Ultimately, I think the Lakers still say no based on their actions so far, but it’s a smart idea.
While we’re in this framework, here’s a similar fan idea regarding the Heat:
• Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, and Kelly Olynyk to Miami for Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Nikola Jovic, and the 2029 first-round pick
Ultimately, though, I think the Jazz say no to taking on the longer-term money of Lowry and Robinson, even for the upside of Jovic and the 2029 pick. The Lakers deal is probably just better.
Jazz as buyers?
Nobody really expects the Jazz to be buyers overall at this deadline. The team doesn’t believe it’s one or two players away from championship contention, and there are too many obvious selling pieces.
But they’re definitely not against taking on players who could be part of the next contending Jazz team if they’re able to find them at the right price. John Collins is an obvious example. O.G. Anunoby is said to want a new situation, and the 25-year-old wing would be an easy fit in the future of the Jazz.
Fans concocted two deals:
• Collin Sexton, Jarred Vanderbilt, and the Minnesota 2023 first-round pick to Toronto for O.G. Anunoby and Thaddeus Young
The Raptors, though, are understandably asking for a lot of value — three first-round picks. I don’t think the Jazz would offer that, but the first fan deal above gives them those three first-rounders if they’re also willing to take on Talen Horton-Tucker’s final year of his deal. (The fan-suggested 2026 pick probably should be edited to one where the Jazz don’t have a swap with Cleveland and Minnesota, though.)
The second deal would require them to like Sexton and Vanderbilt a lot. Vanderbilt is the kind of player the Raptors have in spades, and while Sexton has value, I’m not sure he has enough value to make the Raptors pull the trigger.
I don’t think an O.G. Anunoby deal gets done with the Jazz, though. Other teams like him more.
There are also reports of the Jazz being interested in Charlotte’s Jalen McDaniels. Something like the fan-suggested Leandro Bolmaro and a second-round pick to Charlotte for Jalen McDaniels feels about right, though note that Bolmaro doesn’t have much value to Charlotte.
A star turn?
How are the Jazz going to get their star? Obviously, Lauri Markkanen is one, but may not be the kind of top-5 player that can really lead you to the NBA title.
At the beginning of the year, most thought that would be through the draft: a chance at elite prospects Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson. But as the Jazz’s chances of getting one of those top picks has faded, there is significant internal discussion about pivoting to a new plan: using the draft pick haul they have to trade for a superstar instead.
In that realm, this fan idea is actually more realistic than you might think:
• Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Rudy Gay, Talen Horton-Tucker, four first-round picks, and two pick swaps, to Brooklyn for Kevin Durant
The Jazz are keeping their eye on all of these various star situations, hoping to pounce when the time is right. That includes Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Luka Doncic.
There are not many who anticipate that kind of deal happening this week for the Jazz — the timing isn’t right on either end. But during the offseason, or in deadlines to come? They’re not averse to using their picks to get the kind of game-changing superstar the Jazz haven’t had since Karl Malone.
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