Maybe even more than the Cavaliers, the Utah Jazz are the NBA team that has lost the most this summer. All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer left in free agency for Chicago, along with the best shooter on the team, Kyle Korver. Then the Blazers signed starting two-guard Wes Matthews to an unbelievable 5-year, $34 million offer sheet, which the Jazz probably won’t match.
While the Jazz are losing a lot of pieces right now, and it may seem like they are losing the momentum of last year’s playoff run — Deron Williams recently admitted he was frustrated with the way things have gone this summer — here are five things Utah should do to ensure long-term success:
1. Don’t match Wes Matthews’ offer sheet
Matthews is a solid NBA role player and a nice story. He went undrafted out of Marquette before becoming a playoff starter for Utah as a rookie this past year. Saying that, he is not worth almost $7 million per year. Matthews is best suited to come off the bench and provide athleticism and energy, not to be a regular starter. While the Jazz will face pressure to match from their own players and the media, it wouldn’t be a prudent move for them.
2. Bring back Ronnie Brewer
The Jazz traded Brewer in February because they didn’t see themselves re-signing him. They thought Matthews would be a cheaper alternative, but that may not be the case now. After his trade to Memphis, Brewer promptly injured his hamstring and was sidelined for the remainder of last year. Brewer was a good fit beside Deron Williams in his three seasons in Utah, and if they can sign him for cheaper than Matthews’ offer sheet, it would be a worthy investment for an arguably better player.
3. See what they have in Jeremy Evans
With Boozer gone, Paul Millsap becomes the full time starting power forward. With Millsap stepping into the starting lineup, someone will be needed to back him up. While the Jazz may go out and try to sign someone, they should wait to do that before seeing what they have in 2nd-round pick Jeremy Evans. Evans is ridiculously athletic, and a good finisher around the rim. He also has long arms and is a good shot blocker. The Jazz should see what they have in him before bringing in another power forward.
4. Sign a shooter
While No. 9 overall pick Gordon Hayward is a more well-rounded player than Kyle Korver, he is not nearly the shooter Korver is. The Jazz had problems with the zone defense before Korver’s arrival, and his departure indicates they may have some more problems now. Signing a guy like Eddie House to provide offense and shooting off the bench would be a shrewd move while Hayward has time to develop his jumper.
5. Give C.J. Miles and Kosta Koufos big minutes
The Jazz roster is aging quickly and has a lot of guys who are injury-prone like Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur. Both players have their contracts expire after this season, and likely won’t be retained for the following year. The Jazz don’t have a realistic shot of the NBA Finals this year, so they should explore what they have in Koufos and Miles — who could be the starters next season — to see where they are at and assess what they need to do going forward.