The Utah Jazz had a disappointing 2010-11 season. They saw Hall of Fame head coach Jerry Sloan retire and All-Star point guard Deron Williams get traded mid-season to the New Jersey Nets. The Jazz also missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and finished four games under five hundred.
One of the major holes on the roster was the lack of a consistent small forward. Andrei Kirilenko has struggled over the past few seasons and is likely to walk this off-season. CJ Miles can play shooting guard or small forward but he is an inconsistent scorer.
Enter Rashard Lewis.
Lewis likely has the worst contract of any player in the NBA, but he can still be a strong contributor to a team. He is a versatile player who can be effective both when teams go small or big. One of his best strengths is playing the "stretch" four position because of his strong outside shooting. He can play small forward and power forward if they choose to go small. He is a proven scorer and has championship experience that could be beneficial for the young players on the Jazz. I can see him averaging 13-15 ppg should the Jazz acquire him.
A possible trade could be Lewis and a 1st round pick for the expiring contract of Mehmet Okur and Paul Milsap. This trade would also benefit Washington as they don't seem content with Andray Blatche as their starting power forward. Milsap would give them a big body in the paint. He is also willing to do the dirty work, he is tough, and he hustles. They also get out from under Lewis's contract and shed some salary with Okur's expiring deal. Overall, I see this as a deal that could potentially benefit both teams even though it wouldn't help financially for the Jazz.
Would acquiring Rashard Lewis get the Jazz back to the playoffs?
This starting lineup could prove to be one of the better ones in the Western Conference and easily get the Jazz back to the playoffs:
- Devin Harris
- Raja Bell
- Rashard Lewis
- Derrick Favors
- Al Jefferson
- Bench: CJ Miles, Earl Watson, Kyrel Fesenko, Gordon Hayward, Ronnie Price
Overall, I see this as a very doable trade if the Jazz are willing to take on Rashard Lewis's contract for the next two seasons. They would likely have to pick up a legitimate backup big man such as Greg Oden or Marcus Camby. The Jazz could easily be in the thick of the playoff race next season should they make this trade.