Trey Burke Injury: Time for the Utah Jazz to Trade for Jimmer Fredette
Utah Jazz fans were anticipating a rough season in 2013-14, and that was before news surfaced that Trey Burke's broken finger will require surgery.
Jody Genessy of the Deseret News is reporting that the injury Burke sustained to his shooting hand is going to keep him out for eight to 12 weeks.
He wrote, "That could leave the Jazz's starting point guard sidelined anywhere from 22 to 36 games."
Burke's absence puts the Jazz in an interesting situation.
The team traded two first-round picks in this past summer's draft to move up and take the former Michigan Wolverine ninth overall. That, in combination with the fact that the Jazz signed only John Lucas III during free agency, was a clear indication that Burke is Utah's point guard of the future.
Adding another player at the position might bring some competition to the rotation and by extension, confusion for Burke.
But given the maturity that helped him earn five national "player of the year" awards, that's a small risk. And there are a couple of players out there who may yield a high reward.
One such option could be Chicago's Marquis Teague—who is reportedly someone Utah might be interested in, according to ESPN's Marc Stein:
Hearing: Utah has previously shown trade interest in Bulls' Marquis Teague and could well revisit interest depending on Trey Burke timetable— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) October 13, 2013
Physically, Teague is intriguing. He measured a wingspan just over 6'7" and a vertical leap of 40.5 inches at the 2012 combine. But other than that, there's not much. Even with Derrick Rose out all season in 2012-13, Teague made it on the floor for just 48 games and averaged 2.1 points in 8.2 minutes for the Bulls.
A better low-risk, high-reward option would be Sacramento's Jimmer Fredette. The Kings' three-point specialist hit 41.7 percent of his three-point attempts last season and could provide valuable spacing playing off the ball while Gordon Hayward handles the offense as a point forward.
And if he doesn't fit, Utah can simply let him go next summer because he's on the last year of his rookie contract, something I'm sure Jimmer detractors would be betting on.
For the two or three of you who are familiar with my work at Bleacher Report over the last three years, it should come as no surprise that I'd take the odds on that one.
A Jimmer-on-the-Jazz experiment would work for a few reasons. And at this point in his career, he could be pretty easy to acquire.
The Kings bailed on Jimmer at about the same time they bailed on his first coach. Seven games into the former BYU Cougar's NBA career, Paul Westphal was fired. Jimmer's future has been in flux ever since.
The winner of every notable 2011 "player of the year" award captured the hearts of millions of Americans that year, but could never find his way into Keith Smart's.
Now, he's no higher than third on the Kings' depth chart at two positions—point guard and shooting guard. And back in August, Sacramento Kings beat writer Jason Jones told KSL's Tom Kirkland that the team was shopping Jimmer.
And Utah could put together a couple intriguing packages.
I ran both these possibilities through ESPN's NBA Trade Machine to make sure they'd be allowed under league rules:
Deal No. 1: Jimmer Fredette for Jeremy Evans
Deal No. 2: Jimmer Fredette and Chuck Hayes for Andris Biedrins
Why It Works for Sacramento
The Kings recently announced that Carl Landry will be out three to four months due to hip surgery, and could be looking for some depth inside. Swapping one of their many guards for an athletic forward makes sense.
Evans is 6'9" and, as evidenced by his 2012 dunk contest win, he can fly. He's also shown an improved mid-range jump shot during training camp.
The second potential deal would give Sacramento a little more financial flexibility by swapping the two years left on Hayes' deal for Biedrins' expiring contract.
Why It Works for Utah
Adding Jimmer would bring even more excitement to Utah without foiling the other plans the team has already made.
Fredette still has scores of fans in Utah who would rush to online ticket outlets for seats and local stores for jerseys the minute they heard of a deal landing Jimmer on the Jazz.
And on top of the economic boost, it would be a good basketball fit, too.
His prowess as a three-point specialist has become common knowledge. And his range would do a lot to make things easier for his Jazz teammates.
Players defending Jimmer would never be able to leave him alone on the perimeter to go double-team Enes Kanter or Derrick Favors. They'd also be unwise to slide over in an effort to impede a drive by Alec Burks or Hayward.
He also has the ability to create plays for others. What a lot of people seem to have forgotten about Jimmer is how well he can handle the ball. Just ask his current teammate DeMarcus Cousins, who once beamed, "Jimmer got moves, dog."
In a 2011 game against San Diego State, Jimmer put those moves on display to the tune of 43 points. The way he torched current NBA defensive specialist Kawhi Leonard in that game is the reason I picked it out of the many offensive showcases from his college career.
So on that end of the floor, it's a no-brainer. The question on Jimmer is now, and always has been: Can he defend? What it should be is: Will he?
The physical tools that make it possible for him to dominate the way he did offensively in college are the same ones required to play defense. He just hasn't utilized them to the same degree on that end.
Defense is about desire. Look no further than the Raptors' Tyler Hansbrough for evidence of that. He looks at his man as if he just found out the guy kidnapped his mother. And he follows him around like the detective on the case.
Does Jimmer Fredette make sense for the Jazz?
If Jimmer makes it his personal mission to play with that kind of passion and intensity on defense, he can become a decent defender. Or he'll at least be good enough to justify having him on the floor for what he can do offensively.
And what I think he can do offensively is resurrect Jimmermania in Utah. If not, no big deal. Utah wasn't likely to compete for a playoff spot anyway, and Burke should be back before the All-Star Game.
Maybe I'm in some kind of alternate reality (I often am in regards to sports), but as Bleacher Report's unofficial Jimmer featured columnist, I think the stars have finally aligned to land Fredette in Utah.
I just hope Jazz management has its telescope out.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
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