The Utah Jazz are currently fifth in the Western Conference, but are also flush with cap space and can make a deal at the trade deadline. They may end up being both buyers and sellers before the Thursday deadline.
The Utah Jazz have managed to cobble together a 35-22 record despite their injury struggles. They are currently fifth in the Western Conference standings and are just a half-game behind the Clippers for fourth. With Chris Paul out until mid-March, the Jazz appear to be in line for a top-four seed and homecourt advantage in the first round.
Utah has enough cap space to take on money in a deadline deal, but the biggest rumor surrounding their trade deadline is that they may be moving on from Derrick Favors. They are also looking to bolster their guard rotation in advance of a playoff push. With the clock ticking down to the Thursday trade deadline, the Jazz have an interesting set of options in front of them.
With Gordon Hayward and George Hill set to get large contracts this offseason, the Jazz are looking to find a buyer for Derrick Favors. Favors has been an incredible defender for most of his career, but he is highly injury prone and is not playing up to his usual standards this season. According to ESPN's Zach Lowe, the Jazz have been looking at potential offers for Favors over the last few weeks.
Favors is still a valuable player, especially on the defensive end, so the Jazz would probably be looking for present value in return as they make a push for the playoffs. Utah is currently $13 million under the salary cap, which would be a huge component in any Favors trade. They could consider taking on additional salary in a trade if it meant a better haul in return.
The Jazz are desperate for guard depth, but there are not many teams that would want Favors and also have guard depth to spare. A Ricky Rubio-Derrick Favors swap might have worked for both teams prior to this season, but Tom Thibodeau may be wary of trading for Favors given that Gorgui Dieng just received a massive contract extension. Portland has a lot of guard depth, but their guards are either way more valuable than Favors (Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum) or way less valuable (Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner, and their gargantuan contracts).
Utah might be hard-pressed to find a reasonable deal for Favors, but they also do not need to move him by the deadline. They could wait until Draft Night if they want to move on from him, but for now, there is little motivation to move Derrick unless they get a huge haul in return. Given that his value is near an all-time low given the injury concerns, it would be difficult for the Jazz to find a deal that makes sense.
With Magic Johnson taking over the lead role in the Lakers front office, it might seem as if the Lakers would be unlikely to make a major move. However, Marc Stein reported that the new front office might lead to Los Angeles being more likely to move on from Lou Williams.
The Jazz loom as a nearly perfect candidate to take on Williams, and have expressed interest in doing so. Their stellar defense can cover for Lou's deficiencies on that end, and they could use his offensive firepower off the bench. With George Hill, Rodney Hood, and Alec Burks as the other guards in the rotation, Quin Snyder can afford to hide Williams on the weakest offensive perimeter player on the opposing team. Lou might be undersized at shooting guard, but teams will have a hard time taking advantage of him defensively with Utah's great perimeter defenders around him and Rudy Gobert lurking at the rim.
Utah has both their own first-round pick and the Warriors' first-round pick, in addition to two second-round picks this year. They also have a lottery protected first round pick from the Thunder coming next year, which is protected through 2020 and then converts into two second-round picks in 2021. Given that other teams (notably the Washington Wizards) might be reluctant to give up a first-round pick without heavy protections, Utah could easily trump most of the other competitors in the Williams sweepstakes. A trade sending Jeff Withey (and his expiring $1 million contract) and Utah's own pick to the Lakers for Williams might be the best offer that the Lakers could get, and would open the door for the Jazz to secure the fourth seed and possibly even make a push for the third seed.
P.J. Tucker has been on the trade market for much of this season, and that does not appear to be changing as the trade deadline approaches. The young Phoenix Suns have little need for the veteran Tucker, who could be an immediate contributor to a playoff team as an elite-level defender.
Tucker will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, which will suppress any offers that might come his way. He has not explicitly stated that he will not re-sign in Phoenix, but he will turn 32 in May and simply does not fit the timeline of the rebuilding Suns.
The Jazz are reportedly one of the many teams that have expressed interest in Tucker, who would further bolster their top flight defense. Tucker is an average three-point shooter--he has a 34.7% career mark from deep and is shooting 33.8% on triples this season. However, he did shoot 38.7% from beyond the arc in 2013-2014--the last time he played on a team with an above .500 record.
The Jazz should be interested in Tucker, but he is not worth a first-round pick. If Utah can secure his services in return for one of their second-round picks next year and a future second, he might be worth a look. If the price for him does end up being a first-round selection, Utah would be wise to sit this trade out. Tucker would be a nice pickup for them, but he does not fill their areas of need as well as Lou Williams. Tucker might be worth a first-round pick to a different team, especially one that might be able to re-sign him this offseason, but the Jazz have a tricky offseason coming up and do not need Tucker badly enough to give up a first-round pick for what would probably be a rental for the rest of this season.