Thursday, July 3, 2008

Free Agent Wish List

As things currently stand, the Jazz have no room to sign a free agent. With CJ's qualifying offer on the table, all 15 roster slots are taken. However, the Jazz could pick up a free agent in one of two ways: They can do a sign and trade, whereby the free agent's current team signs the player to a contract and then ships him to Utah for equivalent salaries. Or, they could simply rescind CJ's offer sheet (before July 23), making him an unrestricted free agent, and creating an empty roster slot.

A sign and trade is the only way that the Jazz can pay someone more than the mid-level exception (about $6 million/year) which means that the top level free agents (Josh Smith, Brand, Arenas, Baron, Iguodala, Luol Deng, Ben Gordon) who are looking for a big payday can only be acquired this way. Sign and trades are often more difficult than regular trades because teams aren't looking to pick up expiring contracts - if they wanted cap space, they could just let their free agent walk and get cap room immediately. That means that the Jazz would have to trade someone of value (which does not include Jarron Collins or Jason Hart). Since most of the tradeable players with value on the Jazz have either (1) horrible contracts (Kirilenko's, Boozer's opt-out) or (2) measly contracts (Millsap, Brewer) it will be very difficult to match a large free agent salary with player value. Basically, the Jazz are unlikely to make a successful sign-and-trade.

However, if the Jazz decide that they really want one of the lesser free agents, they can simply rescind CJ's qualifying offer and whip out the check book (up to the mid-level exception). Here's a list of available guys that I think would fit with the Jazz:

Corey Maggette: The Clippers shooting guard is unrestricted now that the Clippers are trying to sign both Brand and Baron. The Jazz signed him once, only to have the Clippers match his offer, so he's at least amenable to playing in SLC. He would give the Jazz two things they don't have now: a shooting guard that is a threat to score at all times and a slasher that gets to the foul line consistently. However, the knock on Maggette is that he is a lazy defender. He's obviously a huge upgrade on our current 2-guard rotation, but I don't love his game. At the midlevel exception, however, he's a steal.
Jazz' Chances: Low. He's hot around the league and a bunch of contenders (Boston, San Antonio, Hornets) and the Florida teams (Heat, Magic) are offering the same amount that the Jazz are. He's either going to go to the beach, or try for a quick ring.

Mickael Pietrus: The Warriors small forward made about $4 million last year and will be looking for more, possibly the full midlevel. He's a supremely athletic player who plays great individual defense (on a horrible defensive team) and is a knock down three-point shooter. He's a bit of an airhead at times - making AK-like turnovers or looking completely flabbergasted in a set offense, but I think he would be a nice upgrade over CJ. It would also be nice to finally have a foreign-born player on the Jazz.
Jazz' Chances: Medium. There are a few teams looking at him (Pistons), but he's somewhat under the radar. He'll follow the money, so whoever offers the full mid-level first wins.

James Jones: The wingman from Portland is an incredible three point shooter. He'd instantly make Korver tradeable, if Korver weren't so amazingly handsome. Jones is also a capable defender of quick two-guards, although he has trouble with the bigger Maggette-types.
Jazz' Chances: Medium to low. A lot of teams are looking to sign this under-the-radar shooter. He'll probably have his pick of locations, and I haven't heard him mention his love for Utah yet. Also, he may be looking for playing time, after riding the bench for long stretches in Portland. The Jazz offer a muddled and crowded swingman rotation.

Josh Childress: This would be my dream pick-up. Childress is a silky smooth player that is perfectly happy being an unheralded contributor. He's not a dynamic athlete, but he is a hyper-efficient shooter (57% last year) and a decent, not great, three point shooter. He does a lot of the little things that Sloan likes, and he's a good defender which Sloan would love. Plus, since 25% of my high school class are now dentists in the greater Salt Lake metro area, I can recommend someone that can fix that busted grill.

Jazz' Chances: Really low. Problem is, he's a restricted free agent, so Atlanta would have to refuse to match the Jazz' offer - something they've said they won't do. Sign and trade may be the only realistic way to get him - maybe the Hawks are secretly in love with CJ, Matt Harpring and Jason Hart!

1 comment:

00Tag - License to Thrill said...

I like Pietrus, and not just because he's French. The Jazz need an athletic defender and, if given the opportunity, I think he could develop into a solid all around player. I also think we may be able to get him for a reasonably good deal.