While things are getting dicey in Los Angeles because the Lakers will rely on D-League call-ups and 10-day contracts to get them through the next few weeks, it’s the opposite in Utah. It has been all season. Before the year began, I noted that Utah’s imposing frontline was a double-edged sword: too much talent, too many bodies, not enough playing time.
The team’s starting big men – Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap – both have expiring contracts (combined for close to $24 million), and there are questions about whether Utah will bring them back next season. Backup power forward Derrick Favors is quickly becoming a force, lifting his averages to 9.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks a night in barely 20 minutes of action. He’s on the books for over $6 million next season. Enes Kanter, an inconsistent player who could use more playing time to tap into his potential (the team is almost 10 points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the floor), is also owed over $4.5 million next year. Realistically, there’s not enough space for all four of them, and there will be unhappy people in Utah next year if they’re dishing out over $10 million to a couple of backups playing limited minutes.
Jefferson is probably the biggest question mark. He expects a max contract this summer, and Dallas is a potential destination for the 6-10 big man. Yet when The Salt Lake Tribune recently asked if he was thinking about his future, Big Al admitted he wasn’t.
“No, actually,” he told the paper. “I haven’t thought about it because that’s something else that I don’t want on my mind right now. It’s all about taking care of this season right here with my teammates.”
Jefferson also added: “The only team I’m looking at right now is the Utah Jazz as a good fit because it’s the team I’m with right now. I don’t think outside of the box like that.”
It’s obvious the Jazz’s coaching staff doesn’t feel comfortable using the mega lineup they deployed at times in the past – playing Millsap, Favors and Jefferson together. So far this season, Ty Corbin has only used that combination for 55 minutes of action, and it’s produced a minus-4.4 score differential, per NBA.com/stats. Unlike Memphis, reportedly trying to move Rudy Gay even though they have a playoff roster, the Jazz might not make the NBA’s second season at all. Their focus isn’t just on this season, but down the road. How their frontcourt depth factors into that will be a story to watch the rest of the year.
Should Utah trade one of their big men?
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