Perhaps you’ve heard the rumor that Gordon Hayward might head to Boston in July. Perhaps you’ve also heard that Charles Oakley is going to be the new GM for the Knicks and Kobe will replace Adam Silver as commissioner too! A lot of rumors go around in the NBA. It’s time to be real. There are several scenarios that affect what the Jazz will do in the offseason.
If Hayward leaves: The sky is falling! No. Honestly the lack of offensive production that Hayward would hurt but the Jazz have backup plans. Free agents like Andre Iguodola, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP of the Golden State Warriors could be bought out.
The 33 year old former All-Star would enjoy a salary increase and a more prominent role in the Jazz organization as he would likely be the starting small forward for an already elite defensive team. He slowed down the mighty LeBron James in the Finals which turned the series back into the favor of the Warriors. The Deadly Defense lineup would ideally consist of George Hill, Joe Ingles, Andre Iguodola, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.
If Hayward stays: He will do so because the Jazz made big moves without giving up any of their big assets. They will only replace George Hill if they can find a cheaper yet similarly valued point guard that isn’t as injury prone.
With Houston defensive specialist Patrick Beverley already shipped to the Warriors in a package for Chris Paul, the only other name in the point guard market that the Jazz have a genuine interest in is Milos Teodosic, a man regarded as one of the greatest passers in the world who is currently playing basketball in Spain.
With Kyle Lowry being a pipe dream and George Hill coming at an expensive price, look for the Jazz to either sign Milos or keep an eye out for other impressive guards as they emerge. The Jazz aren’t going into rebuild mode with Dante Exum starting with Shelving Mack coming off the bench. Gordon Hayward would be insane to stay in Utah if the Jazz tried to pull that off.
The Big Picture: If Hayward leaves then the Jazz can do their best to surround their newly acquired young talent in the draft with some veterans to mentor them. But the loss of Hayward will almost certainly mean that the Jazz won’t eclipse the 51 wins they got last year. They would likely still make the playoffs but would be duking it out with Memphis, New Orleans, Minnesota, Portland and Oklahoma City for the final five spots.
Even if Hayward stays and the Jazz make some decent acquisitions, his road to the Finals wont be a cakewalk. The West just got tougher with the Houston Rockets blockbuster trade and San Antonio and Golden State still looking from the top. The four seed is definitely the most likely scenario for the Jazz since the Clippers got weaker without Paul and will likely decline further should Blake Griffin Depart.
If the Jazz can stay healthy and somehow earn the third or second seed and avoid the Warriors until the Finals then it would certainly be a gigantic step in the right direction compared to the sweeping they received at the hands of the Dubs this year.