Pros and Cons: Trading Millsap and/or Jefferson

Apr 29, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) and Paul Millsap (24) during the second half of game one in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT

 

It’s well known that the Utah Jazz have a lot of depth at the 4 and 5 positions.  Paul Millsap starting at Power Forward and Al Jefferson starting at Center with the two young kids Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter coming off the bench.  With Favors and Kanter showing so much promise and potential it seems that the Jazz need to move one or even both of the starting big men to free up minutes for the younger players to get more minutes and experience.  While I don’t disagree with the argument that the younger players need more playing time, we need to weigh both sides of this issue.  There is not a clear answer to this from an ownership standpoint and I want to give a different point of view to all us Jazz fans out there that cannot figure out why Derrick Favors isn’t starting.

Let’s start off by listing the PROs to trading away Paul Millsap and/or Al Jefferson.

Pros

Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter get more playing time.

This is something we all want to see!  Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter have all shined and different times this season.  Favors is without a doubt ready as a defensive player to dominate the paint and make players second guess themselves before they drive down the lane.  Does anyone remember the preseason?  Kanter showed he is no pushover.  Kanter played in all 8 preseason games averaging 13.1 points and 9.4 rebounds in 21.1 minutes.  Those numbers scream potential for the 20 year old Turk.  These are the big men of the future for the Jazz and we’ll never know how good they can be until they get time on the court.  The answer is to trade the two players ahead of them away and get the young players on the floor so we can find out what the Jazz have in these guys.

We can get something in return for Millsap and Jefferson by trading them instead of letting them walk in the offseason.

What’s the point of keeping these guys if they’ll just walk in the offseason?  As a small market franchise in Utah you can’t count on signing big name free agents.  The stars want to play in big cities and in big markets where they can be in the spotlight.  This is why the Jazz need to build their team through trade or the draft since they can’t bring in the players that want the big city.  Letting Millsap and Jefferson go to free agency unsigned almost guarantees that the Jazz will not be able to sign both players, let alone one of them.  So the answer is to trade them before the trade deadline right?  Bring back a solid, proven player or draft picks that will help the Jazz future.

Jazz can prepare for next season’s financial flexibility.

After this season the Jazz have a lot of financial flexibility.  The Jazz only have 5 players signed for next year.  Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Jeremy Evans are the only players under contract next season and Marvin Williams has a player option that he will most likely pick up as he probably won’t get that much money on the free agent market.  The Jazz are going to have to sign some players to fill out their roster for next season.  If the Jazz trade away Millsap and/or Jefferson then they can build their roster to prepare for next season even if that means just adding draft picks.

Now I am going to completely flip to the opposite end of this discussion and argue the reasons not to try them away.

Cons

Not being near as competitive as are with Millsap and Jefferson.

Let’s be honest here for a minute.  Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are both better offensively then Favors and Kanter.  Much of the Jazz offense is run through the post and in the paint.  If we trade away Big Al,  the guy we sometimes rely on to carry this team, won’t be there when we’re struggling.  Instead of teams planning on how to slow down Big Al offensively they’ll focus on other things and other players which will make everything else harder on the Jazz.  Millsap is also a long ways ahead of both Favors and Kanter offensively.  Without that offensive threat we could see a big drop in the standings.  If the Jazz finish this next month in 6th or higher they may want to play the rest of the season out with the team they have and see if they can somehow make the second round of the playoffs.

Playoffs = Money.

This goes along with the first con.  I’ve read some articles that claim for every playoff game the franchise makes 1 million dollars per home game.  That makes the playoffs extremely valuable to a small market team like the Jazz.  If in a month from now the Jazz are in a position where they could possibly make it into the second round then the Jazz are looking at a minimum 4 million dollars and up to 7 million in revenue for making the playoffs.  Winning has been the culture of this franchise and they have every intention to continue this way and get as deep into the playoffs as possible.  When you include the money ownership will make from these playoff games then if the Jazz have a chance to make any kind of run in the playoffs then that’s what they will try to do.

The right deal may not be there.

Kevin O’Connor and Dennis Lindsey aren’t about to make a deal that they don’t believe will benefit this team now or in the future.  Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are very good players in this league.  There are many teams that will want them come the trade deadline but we aren’t going to let them go without getting something worthwhile back for them.  If a deal doesn’t come along that the Jazz like then it might benefit the Jazz more to go into the offseason with the goal of trying to just sign one of these guys and accept that one or both might leave.  It’s not worth it to give these guys away for next to nothing when you could keep them on the roster for the rest of the season and have a better team heading into the playoffs.

Hopefully this made you think about both sides of the issue here.  It’s not as easy from and ownership standpoint to get rid of these guys when you have other things to consider.  The Jazz need to do what is in the best interest for everyone and for the time being that might mean the young bigs need to play behind Millsap and Jefferson.  If the right deal comes along and the Jazz as a whole believe that this keeps them competitive and in the playoff race then by all means pull the trigger.  It’s much more beneficial to the Jazz to get something out of their expiring contracts then to sit on them and hope for the best.  Both young bigs need more minutes to help their offensive games come along and it the Jazz are having a hard time doing that with all 4 guys on the roster.

Rumor has it that the Houston Rockets main target before the trade deadline is Paul Millsap.  Assuming that the Rockets aren’t going to move Asik, Lin and Harden then there isn’t much on their roster they can offer the Jazz that’s worth their time.  If a third team gets involved then it’s a lot more likely that the Jazz get the value their looking for in Millsap.  If I were a betting man I would say the guy that gets moved is Millsap for a couple reasons.  I have personally played around with ESPN’s trade machine and Jefferson is much harder to move because of his contract.  Plus you will need to find a team that’s willing to take on a high usage player in Jefferson.  If the Jazz move Millsap it will most likely be extremely close to the trade deadline when teams feel like they need to make a last minute move and the Jazz can get the most value.  The next month of the season is going to be fun for the Jazz with lots of home games.  Just keep in mind that the more the Jazz win the harder it gets for Dennis Lindsey to find a deal that’s worth breaking this team up for.

 

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  • Scott Leong

    Jazz management is in a quandary. I don’t see how they can make a trade that leaves the Jazz as strong as they are now. Jefferson and Milsap are paid starter salaries, but the Jazz really need back ups for the remaining players under contract at the end of the season (except for Evans and Murphy).

    So my guess is the Jazz keeps the team as is until the year is over. Then let Jefferson walk (unless he willing to sign for $10/ year), try to sign Milsap for $9M/year, resign Foye, Carroll, and Tinsley, and draft 3 players with the picks they have. They’ll reserve their final 2 roster spots for injury signings…

    • Tyson Newman

      Glad someone else agrees that they’re in a tough spot. Thanks for the comment.

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