Predicting Every Utah Jazz Free-Agency Move This Offseason

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 11:  Paul Millsap #24 of the Utah Jazz drives against Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on January 11, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Utah Jazz have a whopping seven players entering free agency this summer, including their two leading scorers, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.

After missing the playoffs for the second time in three years, it's safe to assume Utah won't be bringing everyone back. Al Jefferson has reportedly signed a deal with the Charlotte Bobcats already.

So who else will be packing their bags? Who will the Jazz try to re-sign? And which free agents from outside the organization will they bring in?

In addition to Jefferson and Millsap, the Jazz players entering free agency are DeMarre Carroll, Jamaal Tinsley, Earl Watson, Randy Foye and Mo Williams.

Following are predictions on what will happen with each of them, as well as two players who would fit in nicely in Utah.

DeMarre Carroll

Nothing DeMarre Carroll does jumps off a stat sheet. But that doesn't mean he has no value. His averages of six points and 2.8 rebounds don't tell the full story.

Carroll is an effort guy, and he gives the cliched 110 percent of it on both ends of the floor. And while that doesn't make up for lack of skill on offense, it definitely makes him a pest on defense.

Based on raw numbers, it might be easy to see Utah parting ways with Carroll. But they only have three wings who played significant minutes last year coming back (Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Marvin Williams) and they didn't use any of their three draft picks to add depth there.

Carroll only made $885,120 last year and can probably be re-signed for about the same value. It's a great price for a team-first energy guy who can provide depth and defense.

Prediction: Re-Signed

Jamaal Tinsley

Even at 35 years old, Jamaal Tinsley is still a solid distributor, averaging over eight assists per 36 minutes. But he's pretty one-dimensional, as he poses almost no scoring threat (3.5 points a game).

Utah may need a veteran point guard to mentor recently drafted Trey Burke, but Tinsley isn't the answer. They have slightly younger (though perhaps more expensive) options like Earl Watson or Mo Williams for that role.

He could be re-signed for cheap, but the Jazz should be angling for a rebuilding, and that money (little as it may be) would be better spent elsewhere.

Prediction: Released

Earl Watson

Earl Watson had essentially the same role as Jamaal Tinsley, though he was even less effective as a scorer (two points a game while shooting 31 percent from the field).

Watson is great at getting his teammates involved, but he does little else. And like Tinsley, he is in the twilight of his career. The team would be better off using Watson's spot on the roster on a younger guard.

Prediction: Released

Randy Foye

Randy Foye was extremely effective in his role as a three-point specialist for the Jazz last season, hitting 41 percent of his attempts.

Utah was in the bottom third of the league in three-pointers made, and letting Foye go would be a step back in an area in which they're already weak.

And he shouldn't cost them a ton of money. He's not likely to get much more on the open market than the $2.5 million he made last season.

Prediction: Re-Signed

Mo Williams

Mo Williams is the veteran point guard Utah should keep as they attempt to transition to whomever they take in this year's draft.

Though certainly not as productive as he was while wearing his Bucks and Cavaliers jerseys, Williams was solid for the Jazz when healthy. He hit 38 percent of his three-point attempts (much better than Tinsley and Watson) and was just behind Tinsley for second on the team in assist percentage.

I don't need to make much of an argument for Williams being better than the other point guards on the roster; that much is obvious. The argument is how much should Utah spend (if anything) to retain one of their point guards. Williams will be the most expensive of the three options but still won't break the bank.

He just turned 30, and his production has dipped in each of the last four seasons. There's no way a team will pay him anywhere near the $8.5 million he made last season. Utah might be able to re-sign him for right around the $5 million that mid-level exception players receive.

The problem with Williams is the recent drama surrounding the demand that never was. Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears recently reported that the Jazz point guard said he wouldn't re-sign with Utah to be a backup. A day later, Jody Genessy of the Deseret News reported that Williams' agent Mark Bartelstein said no such demand was ever made.

I'm a believer in the "if there's smoke, there's a fire" theory. Utah spent a top-10 pick on Trey Burke and might feel the need to start him to get their money's worth. Williams may be cool with it now, but he'll grow tired of playing the backup before long. He's expressed displeasure in sliding down a depth chart before (this report from Pedro Moura of ESPN says he did so as a member of the Clippers as well).

The Jazz should bring in a veteran point guard to provide stability and mentoring behind Burke, but it shouldn't be any of the three they had on the roster last year.

Prediction: Released

Paul Millsap

Paul Millsap is a very solid forward, but it's not likely any team could compete for a title with him as the second best player on the roster. Utah's current core has proved to be fringe playoff material at best. They might think about letting their biggest-money guys go and choose to start afresh.

And in terms of big guys, the turnaround could be pretty quick. At 21, Millsap's backup, Derrick Favors, is six years younger and was almost as effective when he was on the floor. Here are some key stats for both per 36 minutes:

  Points Rebounds Blocks FG%
Millsap 17.2 8.4 1.2 49%
Favors 14.6 11 2.6 48%

Those numbers could be slightly deceiving, as Favors played a lot of his minutes against fellow backups, but I don't think many would argue against his having a bright future. Given more time to grow in real-game situations, he could become pretty special, pretty fast.

Letting go of a good player like Millsap might be tough, but also necessary in order to see if Favors is a great one.

Having said that, I don't anticipate the Jazz letting both of their starting big men walk. And according to Comcast SportsNet Northwest's Chris Haynes, the Jazz have already met with Millsap.

If they re-sign him, a frontcourt of Millsap and Favors could be a good balance of offense and defense.

Prediction: Re-Signed

Al Jefferson

According to a report from ESPN's Marc Stein, Jefferson has already agreed to a deal with the Charlotte Bobcats.

Jefferson is really good (especially on offense), but he wasn't going to carry the Jazz to title contention, and retaining him would have almost certainly cost around or over $10 million a year. His deal with the Bobcats was for $41 million over three seasons.

It's time for Utah to see if a new frontcourt combination (Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors or Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors) can work as part of the starting lineup.

Like Favors, Kanter was very solid in limited minutes. He averaged 16.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per 36 minutes and shot 54 percent from the field.

It looked like the Jazz were always going to make a decision between Jefferson or Millsap, and now the decision has essentially been made for them.

Prediction: Released

Jose Calderon

The Jazz don't have a single point guard under contract heading into the 2013-14 season, and it was a position of need this past year.

It has been ever since Deron Williams was traded.

Calderon isn't the scorer Williams was in Utah (though he is a better shooter, boasting better percentages from the field, three-point range and the free-throw line). He's also not the playmaker Williams was for the Jazz, but he's averaged over seven assists in less than 30 minutes a game for his career.

The long-term solution at point guard is Trey Burke, but Calderon would be an excellent backup. The 32-year-old veteran is a pass-first, turnover-avoiding guard who could mentor Burke and help him become a similarly intelligent floor general.

And in offense-heavy lineups, Calderon could even spend some time on the floor with Burke.

O.J. Mayo

According to the Salt Lake Tribune's Bill Oram, the Jazz have interest in Mavericks' free agent O.J. Mayo.

He would be a great addition for the Jazz, as he could essentially fill the same role as Randy Foye, only more effectively.

Last season, Mayo averaged more points, rebounds and assists than Foye, shot five percent better from the field and matched his three-point percentage at 41.

Utah could be a great place for Mayo to finally approach the hype that once surrounded him (I think it's safe to assume he'll never live up to the Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant comparisons of which he was once the subject).

There would not be a ton of pressure on a young, rebuilding team, and Mayo could very well be the first scoring option in a lineup with Burke, Hayward, Favors and Kanter.  

The Jazz are certain to look like a different team next year with a top-10 pick coming in and three starters heading to free agency.

Utah can hand the reins to a young core of Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors and let them go through a few growing pains this season. Or they can bring back four or five of these guys and make a push for a No. 8 seed in next year's playoffs.

Opting for the young core and giving them the opportunity to gel over the next few years may make them worse in the short term, but it's the best way for them to possibly become legitimate contenders in the long term.


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