Best Bargain-Bin NBA 2014 Free-Agency Options for Utah Jazz
As they enter Year 2 of a complete franchise overhaul, the Utah Jazz find themselves swimming in loads of cap space, even with The Salt Lake Tribune's Tony Jones reporting the team will look to match any offer for restricted free agent Gordon Hayward.
That includes a max offer. If Hayward were to sign one of those with another team, Utah matching the offer would still leave the team with around $15 million in cap space, based on the salary database at Sham Sports and the projected salary cap of $63 million.
So how should the Jazz spend that money?
Since big-name free agents aren't clamoring to play in Salt Lake City and Utah wants its young guys to take the bulk of the minutes for development, the Jazz could be looking at some bargain-bin players.
Fresh off a 25-57 campaign, the team could really use help at just about any position. And there is a handful of guys flying under the radar who could help this team become a little better now, while providing some veteran leadership and experience that would accelerate the growth of the younger players.
2013-14 Stats: 3.8 points, 2.2 assists in 19 appearances
2013-14 Salary: $2.5 million
How He Helps the Jazz
Adding Chauncey Billups would be for one reason, and one reason only: mentoring Utah's very talented young crop of guards.
Billups will turn 38 in September, and he's coming off the least productive season of his 17-year NBA career. So expecting a lot of buckets and assists out of him would be unrealistic.
What he would provide is a steady voice and presence in practice and in-game huddles. He could help Dante Exum, Trey Burke and Alec Burks understand how to play the game with pace. His experience would be valuable, even if he wasn't filling up the box score.
Chauncey Billups embodies what it means to be a member of the Detroit Pistons. His leadership, dedication and excellence both on and off the court provide a great example for aspiring young athletes. He will forever be a welcome member of the Pistons’ family, and I am confident that after his playing days are over he will have a long and bright future in this league.
One team that could make sure his playing days aren't over is the Jazz. He'd be a great fit for all the reasons laid out above, and he believes he still has something left in the tank.
According to Ellis, Billups responded to his release by saying, "I feel like I’ve still got some good years of basketball left."
Kirk Hinrich or Luke Ridnour
2013-14 Stats: 9.1 points, 3.9 assists and 35.1 percent from three-point range (Hinrich); 5.0 points and 2.9 assists (Ridnour)
2013-14 Salary: $4.1 million (Hinrich), $4.3 million (Ridnour)
How They Help the Jazz
SLC Dunk's AllThatAmar laid out Utah's need for an experienced backup point guard on July 4, saying, "What is missing is a veteran guard who is known for being a defender."
He goes on to explain that Utah has pretty much settled on John Lucas III to fill that veteran mentor role, but shreds the logic behind it:
He's experienced (he has played all over the world), but Alec Burks has played nearly double his minutes on NBA courts. Furthermore, I don't think he's that amazing at what we need. He's not a defender. And while he doesn't play with intensity, he did nearly start a meaningless fight in Houston. I hate the Houston Rockets, so he gets some points in my books for that. But, objectively, it's not like John Lucas III is some sage that young point guards need to learn from.
Two guards on the market who actually could teach Burke, Exum and Burks a bit about playing both backcourt positions in the NBA are Kirk Hinrich and Luke Ridnour.
Both entered the league in the 2003 draft and have enjoyed long careers as both starters and backups. Either one could provide experience, leadership, timely shooting and, in the case of Hinrich, solid perimeter defense.
Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams
2013-14 Stats: 10.1 points and 40.9 percent from three-point range (Jefferson); 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds and 35.9 percent from three-point range (Williams)
2013-14 Salary: $11 million (Jefferson), $7.5 million (Williams)
How They Help the Jazz
Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams represented the veteran presence for the Jazz last season. While they didn't help the team win many games, they both proved to be capable spot-up shooters.
That alone will get them some attention from other suitors on the open market. In fact, Williams has already visited with the defending Eastern Conference champs, according to Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears:
Heat prez Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra flew to NC to meet with Jazz free agent forward Marvin Williams yesterday, a source told Yahoo.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 6, 2014
Assuming LeBron James returns to Miami, that would certainly be an enticing opportunity for Williams.
Jefferson could be in the hunt for a similar situation as a specialist on a contending team.
If neither is able to find that kind of match, one or both could end up back in Utah, but for significantly less money than they made last season.
2013-14 Stats: 6.0 points and 42.9 percent from the field (13.1 points and 45.1 percent from the field in 23 games with the Los Angeles Lakers)
2013-14 Salary: $788,872
How He Helps the Jazz
Honestly, this one is a little tough to wrap my head around. Kent Bazemore is already 25—older than anyone else in Utah's core—and wasn't known for anything but his bench celebrations prior to his short stint in Mike D'Antoni's stats-inflating system in LA last season.
Nevertheless, Utah is apparently interested, and few other names have been legitimately connected to the Jazz since free agency started.
Source says the talks between Kent Bazemore and the Utah Jazz have moved past the preliminary stage, but the sides are not close to a deal— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 3, 2014
Any minutes Bazemore would get with the Jazz would be better used to develop the lottery guys Utah's taken over the last few years.
But if he was indeed signed, he could provide a ton of energy on the wing and be a player Quin Snyder could send after the opposition's big scorers in short stretches.
2013-14 Stats: 5.6 points and 47.6 from three-point range
2013-14 Salary: $2.4 million
How He Helps the Jazz
Utah was 24th in three-pointers per game at 6.6 and 25th in three-point percentage at 34.4. The team needs shooting, and Jimmer Fredette is one of the best gunners on the market.
Among players who took at least as many threes as Fredette last season (84), Fredette ranked first in three-point percentage.
And while his defense may be iffy, it's not as horrific as many would have you believe. Last season, 337 players logged at least 500 minutes, and 65 had a worse defensive rating than Fredette, including seven Jazz players. He's still near the bottom, but he's better than 19 percent of that group.
And in Utah, he wouldn't be asked to play major minutes or defend the opposition's best guard.
What he would do is make defenses have to worry about the three-point line whenever he's on the floor.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him at @AndrewDBailey.
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