Ranking the Best Trade Options for Brandon Rush and the Utah Jazz
Even though he was just acquired by the Jazz a couple months ago, Brandon Rush's name is already surfacing in trade rumors around the Internet.
Most were the offspring of an ESPN Insider piece (subscription required) by Bradford Doolittle and Amin Elhassan in which the two discuss where Rush would fit best should the rebuilding Jazz choose to move him.
Thing is, Houston doesn't really have anything they can offer Utah in a trade. Rush is on an expiring contract and is owed $4 million this year. The Rockets would have to bunch multiple reserves like Ronnie Brewer and Francisco Garcia together to equal Rush's salary and both their deals last beyond 2014.
Committing capital in that way doesn't make sense for Utah—especially when considering upcoming extension talks with Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors.
If the Jazz do deal Rush, they're going to want value in return for a solid perimeter defender who is a 41 percent career three-point shooter. And value for a rebuilding team equates to expiring deals, draft picks and intriguing young talents.
Five teams can offer some combination of those things to Utah. Each one of these deals was run through ESPN's NBA Trade Machine to make sure they'd fly under current collective bargaining agreement rules.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
5: Atlanta Hawks
The Deal: Brandon Rush for John Jenkins and Shelvin Mack
Why it Works for Utah: 22-year-old Jenkins has a chance to be a special floor-spacer. In very limited minutes (less than 15 a game), he hit 38 percent from downtown as a rookie for the Hawks.
He would fill a need for the Jazz, as Gordon Hayward was the only player on Utah's roster who was a legitimate three-point threat during the 2012-13 NBA season (Rush was hurt and Richard Jefferson hasn't been a real part of a rotation for a couple years).
Mack was included in this deal to make the moving salaries close enough to pass current CBA rules.
He isn't the flashiest player, but Utah currently has only one point guard behind rookie Trey Burke and a little depth at such a crucial position wouldn't hurt.
Why it Works for Atlanta: The Hawks have been a middle-of-the-road playoff team in the Eastern Conference for years and just lost their best player to the Pistons this summer.
But Atlanta hasn't decided to start fresh after the departure of Josh Smith. Instead, they reloaded by adding Paul Millsap and Elton Brand and re-signing Kyle Korver.
The plan seems to be to continue to fight for playoff berths rather than tank, and Rush fits that plan better than Jenkins.
Rush has much better size on the wing (6'6" with a 6'11" wingspan to Jenkins who is 6'4" with a 6'8" wingspan) and that helps make him a tenacious defender. Korver isn't terrible, but he won't shut anyone down individually either. Rush could take on the responsibility of guarding the opposition's toughest wings.
He's also a more potent perimeter threat. Jenkins had a solid rookie campaign as a shooter, but Rush has been doing it since 2008 and has hit over 40 percent in each of his last three full seasons (topped off by a 45-percent campaign in 2011-12).
4: Detroit Pistons
The Deal: Brandon Rush and Andris Biedrins for Charlie Villanueva, Peyton Siva and a draft pick
Why it Works for Utah: This is essentially an exchange of one team's expiring contracts for another. Villanueva would be about as valuable to the Jazz as Biedrins—the team would let either one go this summer.
So the value for Utah is in the draft pick. It's hard to imagine anyone giving up a pick in the stacked 2014 draft, but the rebuilding will likely take more than a year and a prospect from the 2015 class could add some depth for the future.
Why it Works for Detroit: The Pistons are projected to start three players up front who can punish the rim, but lack any range outside five feet (You might be able to convince me Josh Smith can extend out to 10).
Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Smith will need at least one player to keep defenses from focusing entirely on clogging the lane. Brandon Jennings is too inconsistent, Rodney Stuckey wants to be inside as much as the bigs and Chauncey Billups is on his last legs.
The role is tailor-made for Rush. He would make defenses think twice about sinking down on the front line. If they did, he would make them pay from three-point range.
And Rush wouldn't just fit offensively. Combine his defense with Smith and opposing wings could be in for some nightmarish outings.
3: Sacramento Kings
The Deal: Brandon Rush for Jimmer Fredette and Patrick Patterson
Why it Works for Utah: As I mentioned on the Hawks slide, Utah lacks three-point shooting. And if the team plans on moving Rush, they might be wise to bring another shooter back.
Fredette's situation in Sacramento never even remotely resembled a defined role during his two years as a King. His minutes were unpredictable, he was often the floor with players who were mostly concerned with getting their own buckets and he played for a coach who did little beside exacerbate the problem.
Doesn't sound like a good recipe for finding a flow or rhythm as a shooter, does it? And yet, Fredette still hit 42 percent of his three-point attempts and averaged 18.4 points per 36 minutes.
In a system that would benefit his strengths and under a coach who could provide some real direction for him, Fredette could be very valuable. I'm not sure if Tyrone Corbin is that coach, but he's a step up from Keith Smart.
On top of that, there's the obvious regional pull.
There are still scores of Jimmer fanboys living in Utah who would rather discuss his glory days at BYU than the gospel during church.
Why it Works for Sacramento: The Kings seem to be moving away from their old backcourt strategy of acquiring as many undersized or shoot-first (or both) kinda guys.
Grievis Vasquez is a much bigger and more team-oriented point guard than Isaiah Thomas. Ben McLemore is bigger than Marcus Thornton and even though he somehow failed to dish out a single assist in Las Vegas this Summer, I still feel like he'll pass more than the incumbent gunner.
The addition of Rush would be another step in that direction. He could provide his perimeter shooting and defensive ability as a backup to McLemore or even as the starting small forward. He may only be 6'6", but his wingspan is just shy of 7'0" and he provides much more versatility than Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
2: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Deal: Brandon Rush for Thabo Sefolosha
Why it Works for Utah: This trade may be a bit redundant, as Sefolosha and Rush are similar assets.
They both defend well on the perimeter and Sefolosha has somehow managed to turn his funky looking shot into a pretty effective weapon from outside (he's hit 42 percent of his threes over the last two years).
If the Jazz could somehow coax OKC into adding a draft pick, it may be worth it.
Why it Works for Oklahoma City: Like I said already, Rush does a lot of what Sefolosha does—only he does it a little better (at least offensively).
During Rush's last healthy season (2011-12), his true shooting and effective field-goal percentages were better than Sefolosha's. His rebounding and assist percentages were slightly better as well.
His defense might be a bit behind, but the Thunder should be in the market for points with Kevin Martin working in Minnesota this year.
1: Chicago Bulls
Why it Works for Utah: The Jazz currently employ two point guards. One is a rookie. The other is 30 years old and has averaged less than 12 minutes a game during his NBA career.
Hinrich would provide depth, stability and experience at the position and could be a solid mentor for Trey Burke.
Filling in for the injured Derrick Rose last year, Hinrich averaged 5.2 assists a game and hit 39 percent of his three-point attempts.
He would instantly become the best defensive option in Utah's backcourt as well. He's tenacious on the ball and his size (6'4" with a 6'6" wingspan) bothers opposing point guards.
It also allows him to back up either guard spot.
Why it Works for Chicago: Mostly because they've needed a shooting guard for years and Rush might be the perfect fit.
Defense-first coach Tom Thibodeau would love the size and level of activity Rush brings to that end. Derrick Rose would love the space his new backcourt mate's shooting would bring to the other.
The addition could cause an interesting ripple effect in Chicago as well. Rush's presence might allow Jimmy Butler to move to his more natural spot at small forward. That would open up the possibility of moving Luol Deng and his expiring contract.
Basically, I just want to see how suffocating a defense the lineup of Rose, Rush, Butler, Taj Gibson (you know they really should trade Boozer too) and Joakim Noah would be.