The slow and quiet portion of the NBA offseason is officially upon us, but that doesn’t keep inquiring minds from thinking ahead. So, I’ve opened up the mailbag to answer some of your offseason questions.
Most of the questions I received this time around concerned the current Utah Jazz roster, which currently stands at 18 players, including three two-way contracts — Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, John Collins, Kelly Olynyk, Walker Kessler, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji, Kris Dunn, Luka Samanic, Talen Horton-Tucker, Simone Fontecchio, Taylor Hendricks, Keyonte George, Brice Sensabaugh, Omer Yurtseven, Johnny Juzang (two-way), Micah Potter (two-way) and Joey Hauser (two-way).
I do expect this to be the roster the Jazz start the season with. But, this is the NBA and the Jazz are in a particularly flexible situation with expiring contracts, tradable players and valuable draft assets.
It’s been said many times, but bears repeating: The Jazz are going to be involved in every conversation that they want to be a part of and many that they have no interest in. They have too many draft picks stockpiled for the other team in the league to ignore.
So, while I don’t expect the Jazz to make any big moves before the 2023-24 season begins, there’s always a chance. Also consider that the NBA could shift significantly before this offseason is over.
Collins has been playing with a finger injury for a couple of seasons. Additionally his name has been in trade rumors for just as long and he was on an Atlanta Hawks team that had some roster redundancies.
All of that to say that there are plenty of explanations for the dip in Collins’ production over the last couple of years.
The Jazz are of course hoping that Collins returns to the type of player that he was during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. Collins went from averaging 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 40.1% from 3-point range during the 2019-20 season to averaging 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 29.2% from 3 last season.
It’s not easy to predict how a change of scenery will impact a player or how long it will take a player to adapt to his new team and role. So, I think the Jazz are going to have tempered and mild expectations for Collins this season, while of course hoping that exceeds those.
As Collins is learning his new coach, teammates and trying to build chemistry, he’ll have plenty of opportunity to show that the last couple of years were the exception, not the rule. I think it’s fair to expect that he plays better than he did last year, but probably not fair to expect him to have an All-Star year and put up 20 and 10 numbers. He might need some time to acclimate.
There are so many different things to consider when answering this question.
I believe that on opening day of the 2023-24 season that Dunn will be the Jazz’s best point guard. If it were me coaching the team, independent of a front office and the league at large, I would start Dunn.
But the Jazz aren’t playing in a vacuum. There are decisions that need to be made about Horton-Tucker, Sexton and George.
George is going to need some time to work up to being ready for regular NBA minutes and that might mean he spends some time in the G League or slowly works his way into the Jazz rotation the same way that Agbaji did last season.
Sexton still needs to carve out what his role with this team is and so does Horton-Tucker. If the Jazz don’t intend on keeping Horton-Tucker then they might end up showcasing him through the first couple of months to try to increase trade value.
So where does does all of this leave Dunn? It depends. If the Jazz start out the season with Horton-Tucker or they decide to just throw George into the fire to see how he reacts, then it could mean that Dunn is coming off the bench.
But if the Jazz believe that Dunn’s showing last season is a true indication of the type of player he is now, he could be truly deserving of the starting point guard role.
I think that in the first couple weeks of the season, we’ll learn a lot about the direction the team is going when it comes to that position.
I do have some updated information on this front!
An agreement with the streaming provider is currently being finalized and an announcement with the provider named should be released in the next couple of weeks. Details about pricing, subscription plans and other programming is expected to be released when it goes on sale in late September.
The streaming service is expected to be fully launched and available for purchase in time for the Jazz’s first 2023-24 preseason game.
Have the Jazz shopped around a few players? Sure. Have they put some feelers out to test the temperature of the trade market? Yes. But have they been actively trying to get rid of a player through a trade? Not really, outside of wanting to attach Rudy Gay to a trade package, which they did.
There are instances when NBA teams are truly looking for a deal on a specific player, and that’s usually when it’s a star player who demands a trade or when a team is decidedly pivoting away from the team they have (i.e. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell). But outside of that I think that actively shopping a player happens less than fans might think.
The problem is that if you call a bunch of teams and tell them that you’re willing to trade a player, that player loses value in trades pretty quickly. The NBA is a small world and word gets around really, really fast.
I actually think that a good example of this is Collins. There were reports and rumors that the Hawks wanted to trade Collins for at least two years and there was enough smoke to know that there was fire.
In addition to that, there were also reports of the asking price. That price seemed more outlandish with every report and it was so evident that Collins was available to the rest of the league that the Jazz eventually were able to land him for Gay and second-round pick, a much smaller asking price than had originally been floated.
The Jazz will be playing a preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 10 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle in the second annual Rain City Showcase.
The Jazz haven’t issued a formal press release about this because technically it will be a Clippers home game and there really isn’t that much else to say about it.
Seattle has long been considered a top contender for an expansion team, and in 2021 renovations on Climate Pledge Arena, home of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken and WNBA’s Seattle Storm, were completed. Last year was the first Rain City Showcase which featured the Clippers vs. Trail Blazers in the NBA preseason.
The Jazz’s full preseason schedule has not been announced, but is expected to be released soon.