The Utah Jazz have a lot of big men on their roster and rumors about them trading one of them have been going on for awhile.
The San Antonio Spurs have emerged as the frontrunner to land Jazz center Al Jefferson, according to Sheridan Hoops.
Here’s why, followed by a how.
“Those teams are practically incestuous, they are on such good terms internally,” one NBA source told me Wednesday.
Indeed, Spurs assistant general manager Scott Layden left Utah prior to this season after spending several seasons as an assistant coach for the Jazz and joined R.C. Buford’s staff in San Antonio’s
secrecy vaultfront office. Also, former Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey is now doing the legwork for Utah’s grand pooh-bah, Kevin O’Connor.
The Jazz currently have Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter on their roster. Jefferson is in the last year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Jazz don’t want to see him walk without getting anything in return.
The Spurs can make this work because they have a few things Utah needs. The Jazz need a point guard and the Spurs have both Patty Mills and Nando De Colo to include in a deal. The Spurs can also include Tiago Splitter and Stephen Jackson to match up the salaries.
The Spurs currently have the best record in the NBA and have essentially the same exact roster as a season ago. They made less moves this offseason than any team in the NBA.
Acquiring Jefferson would be huge for the Spurs. Jefferson is one of the few players in the league that demands a double-team from the post. With Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili getting up there in years, Jefferson could take a little pressure off them as another scoring option.
Jefferson is averaging 17.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game this season while shooting a career-low 47.8 percent from the field.
Size is also one of the few weaknesses of the Spurs. They make up for it in other ways like great ball movement and perimeter shooting which is why they still have the best record in the NBA. When it comes playoff time, San Antonio may be overmatched on the interior with their current roster.
Some of the other top teams in the Western Conference clearly have more size than the Spurs like the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers. Jefferson would immediately change that.
The Spurs would likely be straying away somewhat from the kind of basketball that has made them so successful over the past few seasons. Jefferson is going to isolate a lot and hold the ball longer when the Spurs are used to quick, crisp ball movement. But if there’s one team and organization that can make this work and figure it out, it’s San Antonio.
We know that the Jazz are going to move one of their bigs. Do they really want to send their best one to the best team in the league? Maybe not but it will likely yield them the greatest return.
The trade deadline is right around the corner now Feb. 21 which is right after the All-Star break. Expect any big moves like this one to happen right at the deadline.