by Griffin Gamble
The Utah Jazz have had a great 2021 offseason so far. Starting with the NBA Draft, the Jazz moved back in the draft while gaining future assets. On top of that, they cleared cap space by trading Derrick Favors and still got the player they wanted all along with Baylor’s Jared Butler. After that, the Jazz resigned veteran all-star guard Mike Conley to a three year deal. However, the Jazz front office was not satisfied with that. They became aggressive in free agency and the trade market.
One name that was not on the radar for many Jazz fans was veteran forward Rudy Gay. Gay started his career in Memphis where he proved to be an athletic scorer. After a 2017 achilles injury right before he was set to become a free agent, his career trajectory was halted. Gay decided to join the Spurs where he proved to be a reliable scorer. The 34-year-old averaged 11 points per game for San Antonio last season. His three-point shot has greatly improved as he has shot almost 40 percent from three in two of the last three seasons.
The two-year deal will include a player option. This move also reunited Mike Conley and Rudy Gay who played five seasons together in Memphis. Gay can bring some solid scoring to the bench unit that was ranked 15th in the league in points per game last season. At times it was mentioned that Jordan Clarkson seemed to be the deciding factor if the Jazz bench will score or not in games. Although his defense isn’t what it used to be, the Jazz have the talent defensively to hide Gay on that end. It will be nice to add another veteran capable of scoring.
Another surprising move to most NBA fans was the Golden State Warriors trading forward Erich Paschall to Utah for a 2026 second-round pick. This is a fantastic move for the Jazz. Paschall is a young, hungry scorer who again can come in and make this bench lethal. He was named to the 2020 All-Rookie First Team after averaging 14 points-per-game. If not for injuries last season, Paschall would have played a major role for the Warriors. Golden State needed to create a roster spot and the Jazz jumped on the opportunity. Paschall still is signed through 2023 where he will then become a restricted free agent.
Paschall will bring scoring and toughness to this Jazz second unit. He is also lifelong friends with Utah’s own Donovan Mitchell. Paschall and Mitchell both grew up in Dobbs Ferry, New York. They even played on the same AAU team. Paschall brings a ton of energy and a chip on his shoulder just like Mitchell. The two friends now go from playing together in their teen years to playing for the same NBA team. The goal remains the same to win championships.
The Utah Jazz picked up Whiteside on a one-year veteran minimum deal. Although this will be Whiteside’s third team in three years, the seven-foot center still has some left in the tank. This is especially the case on defense. Whiteside was looking to be the next great center in his time in Miami but things did not pan out. However, he has had some impressive seasons where he averaged 3.7 blocks per game in 2015 and 2.9 blocks per game in 2020 for the Kings. Whiteside will bring some insurance for Gobert, and it is always nice to have some size if needed.