Utah Jazz: Best 5 Trades in the Last Decade

Nick SmithContributor IIJune 10, 2011

Utah Jazz: Best 5 Trades in the Last Decade

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    My last article was about whether or not the Utah Jazz should trade their third pick in this year's NBA draft, and it got me thinking of some of the great moves they have made in the recent past.

    When teams come to the point of rebuilding (which every team has to deal with at some point), they have three options of ways they can build a roster; through the draft, through trades, or through free agency. As examples, Oklahoma City rebuilt through the draft, Boston rebuilt through trades, and Miami rebuilt through free agency.

    Unfortunately for the Jazz, as is the case for many small market teams, there's not really what one would call a waiting list for players who want to come to Utah. In fact, Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur are the only All-Star players the Jazz have acquired through free agency in over two decades. 

    So in all reality, where most teams have three ways to build a roster, the Jazz only have two. Yet their organization has been as competitive and consistent as any.

    In this article, we'll look at the five best trades the Jazz have made in recent years that have helped them remain competitive on somewhat of an uneven playing field.

5. Kyle Korver

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    In December of 2007, the Jazz traded disgruntled backup shooting guard Gordan Giricek and a protected first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for sharp shooter Kyle Korver.

    Although Korver made just two regular season starts in his two-and-a-half seasons with the Jazz, Korver was an excellent floor spacer and a nice fit in the Jazz' flex offense.

    With Carlos Boozer doing most of his damage inside, and Deron Williams always looking to get to the rim, Korver made opponents pay when they paid too much attention to the All-Star duo.

    Kyle Korver will never be an All-Star, nor will he be enough of an athlete to be a reliable starter for any team in this league, but considering Jazz fans were almost willing to give up Gordon Giricek and his bad attitude for free, you can imagine the delight of fans everywhere when Jazz brass brought home this Ashton Kutcher look-alike.

4. Eric Maynor

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    In 2009, the Jazz traded rookie Eric Maynor and injured Matt Harpring for the rights to German prospect Peter Fehse.This trade had nothing to do with Peter Fehse, rather it had everything to do with the contract of injured Matt Harpring. So essentially, the Jazz gave OKC Maynor under the stipulation that they took Harping's contract as well.

    Although extremely unpopular in Jazz-land, this move was a brilliant financial move for Utah. Despite being in a small market, the Jazz have been unafraid to be in the luxury tax, and because of deals like this that save them millions, they are able to remain as aggressive spenders.

    I understand the frustration of trading a nice young player on your roster for no players in return, but the reality is, the Jazz saved a killing on this deal. With Harpring in the final year of his deal, and the Jazz already in the luxury tax, moving Maynor saved the team $13 million!

    Eric Maynor is a really nice player, but will likely never be more than a backup in this league. Would you pass on the opportunity to save your franchise $13 million to keep a player that has career averages of 4.5 PPG and 3 APG game for his career? I know I wouldn't.

3. Deron Williams to New Jersey

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    On February 24, 2011, the Jazz shocked the NBA world by trading All-Star point guard Deron Williams to New Jersey for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and two future first-round draft picks.

    Jazz fans hope that when all is said and done, this trade will be the best trade in franchise history, but until we see what Derrick Favors becomes, as well as the two players the Jazz will acquire in the draft, I couldn't put this move higher than three on this list.

    There is no doubt Utah would not have made this deal if they felt there was any chance they were going to be able to re-sign Williams after the 2011-2012 season. Without such confidence, however, the Jazz acted boldly and overnight, completed what took the Denver Nuggets over nine months to do.

    Deron Williams is the real deal on the basketball court, but as the Jazz evaluated the current state of a few other unnamed teams around the league that held out hope that their superstar would stay, they realized they wanted no part of that.

2. Al Jefferson

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    In a cost-cutting effort, the Minnesota Timberwolves traded Al Jefferson to Utah in exchange for Kosta Koufos, the Memphis Grizzlies’ protected 2011 first-round pick (obtained by the Jazz in a previous trade) and an additional future protected first-round pick.

    Wait, Minnesota did what? Al Jefferson for Kosta who? Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor acted at the perfect time to try to replace the recently departed Carlos Boozer. What team in this league wouldn't have given up their third-string center and two lottery protected picks for a 20 and 10 big man who is in the prime of his career?

    I understand Minnesota was trying to save money, but could they really not find a better offer anywhere in the league than what the Jazz game them?

    Although Jefferson's first year with the Jazz wasn't as dreamy as expected, Al made large strides toward the end of the season in terms of fitting his game into the Jazz' offense.

    At only 26, Big Al should have many productive years ahead of him. If nothing else, Jazz fans can hope his fancy footwork in the paint can begin to wear off on prize possession Derrick Favors.

1. Deron Williams (again)

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    In 2005, the Jazz traded their No. 6, No. 27, and their 2006 first-round pick received from Detroit in the Carlos Arroyo deal for Portland's No. 3 pick. These players turned out to be Martell Webster, Linas Kleiza and Joel Freeland to Portland, and of course, Deron Williams to Utah.

    At the time it seemed like Portland was the trade's winner. They liked Martell Webster, out of a prep high school in Seattle, as much as anybody in the draft, and with him likely to still be available at No. 6, the deal made perfect sense for the Blazers.

    The Jazz knew, however, that Williams was their guy. He was exactly what they were looking for in a point guard; they liked his size, shooting, court vision and playmaking ability. They also liked the fact that he was a competitor, something that Jerry Sloan demanded from his players.

    I don't need to continue on about why the Jazz loved Williams as an NBA prospect as his game continues to do the talking, but the Jazz deserve credit for choosing quality over quantity in the draft, something that paid huge dividends to their franchise. After all, trading Martel Webster, Linas Kleiza and Joel Freeland for Deron Williams would likely be the best trade of any franchise's most recent decade.