Spencer Checketts of 1280 The Zone in Salt Lake City originally reported that Utah had made a major offer to the Cavs for the No. 1 pick back on June 20:
Can confirm Jazz offered #5 and Favors to Cleveland for #1 pick. But source says target is Andrew Wiggins, not Jabari Parker.— Spencer Checketts (@1280Spence) June 20, 2014
Since then, Jody Genessy of the Deseret News has been relaying additional details from Checketts' radio show:
.@1280Spence clarified that Favors and #5 are on the table. Alec Burks, #23 and/or an unprotected first-rounder are potential sweeteners.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) June 23, 2014
And for any skeptics out there who mistrust small-market reporting, be advised; we've got the big-time stamp of approval as well:
So it seems pretty certain that the Jazz are gunning for Cleveland's pick. The question is: Why?
The most obvious answer is that Utah has zeroed in on the one player it can't live without. For a while, it appeared that player was Jabari Parker. But ESPN's Chad Ford raised a possibility that went against conventional wisdom in an ESPN.com chat back on June 18:
I know what Jazz fans want. They want Jabari. But I actually think Embiid and Wiggins may be higher on their boards. If they move up, don't assume it's for Parker. And please Jazz fans, don't burn down Dennis Lindsay's home if he passed on him. You'll love Wiggins too.
Obviously, Joel Embiid's foot injury removes him from that equation. But Wiggins remains.
And if you think about it, Wiggins would have been a logical choice at No. 1 a year ago, when many thought he would have warranted the top selection if not for the NBA's age limit that required him to wait a year before entering the draft.
Though some of the luster has worn off, Wiggins remains a very promising prospect.
B/R's Jonathan Wasserman called him a "high-upside wing with All-Star potential," and it's not hard to miss Wiggins' overall athletic appeal. At 6'8", he features a 7'0" wingspan, per Draft Express, and a 44-inch max vertical, per Scout.com.
He's a fluid scorer who should develop into a terrific defender as he matures, and there's little question he'll be ready to compete athletically right away.
For all that, though, Wasserman has Wiggins pegged as the No. 3 pick, while Ford has him slotted at No. 2.
If we assume the Jazz are targeting Wiggins, though, it doesn't really matter whether he's projected to go first, second or third. As far as Utah's concerned, the point is that he certainly won't be available at No. 5, which means trading up is a necessity.
And while it's tough to figure out why the Jazz are fixated on that top selection, one could speculate that other teams in the top four simply aren't interested in making a deal. So the Jazz are talking with the one team, Cleveland, that might be willing to listen.
There are any number of additional explanations for Utah's desire to climb the draft ladder, some of which actually have little to do with Wiggins. For example, it's possible the Jazz have taken a long look at that four-year, $48 million extension they gave Derrick Favors and are having second thoughts.
Maybe the Jazz have their eye on another big man whom they prefer to Favors. Maybe they think Enes Kanter (if his knee is healthy) is the interior presence they want to use in a four-out, one-in set.
Given the reported additions to the trade negotiations, it's tough to get past the notion that Utah simply wants Wiggins.
Jazz front office is reportedly split about including Alec Burks in that trade offer to Cleveland, according to @1280Spence.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) June 23, 2014
Why else would it be tossing in such valuable assets?
Admittedly, there's a lot of appeal to the idea of Wiggins, Trey Burke and Kanter making up a very young, very cheap core. And with so little money committed to future salaries, the Jazz could pretty comfortably match whatever offer sheet Gordon Hayward might sign this summer.
Ultimately, stars are hard to come by in the NBA, and it's possible Wiggins is one of those rare specimens. It's a long shot, sure, but at least the young man himself has confidence in what he'll become.
"I always put myself No. 1 above anybody else. That’s just me. I got a lot of confidence in myself,” Wiggins said on ESPN's First Take (via Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com).
Maybe it's contrary to popular opinion, and maybe there's more going on here than meets the eye. But it's hard to fault the Jazz for making an aggressive move like this, especially when it's so out of character:
RE: Report out of Utah ... would be bold & thoroughly unexpected departure for Jazz to be willing to surrender Favors on top of lottery pick— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 24, 2014
Hey, when you see something you like, go for it.