NBA Free Agents 2011: 15 Players the Utah Jazz Should Target after Lockout
The 2011 offseason has been destroyed by the lockout. It has made it difficult for teams to plan for the future and the upcoming season, if there is one.
The Utah Jazz are in the stages of rebuilding their team. They have many young stars who are thought to have great potential. They have a loaded frontcourt that would be good against any team, or trade bait to add a player at another needed position.
The Jazz, like most teams, still need to add some key pieces in order to compete for a top spot in the Western Conference. Whether by free agency or trade, the Jazz need to add some depth to their backcourt more than anything.
While it is obvious that they can't get all 15 of the players on this list, here are 15 guys that they should target once the lockout is over.
15. Marcus Thornton
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Marcus Thornton had a surprising rookie year with the New Orleans Hornets. He performed above expectations and impressed many around the league. After his trade to the Sacramento Kings, his numbers continued to rise as he averaged over 20 points per game..
He didn't have the same numbers as his impressive rookie year, but he still performed at an above-average level for a below-average team.Thornton is a restricted free agent in 2011. The Kings may give him a qualifying offer, but with the additions of Jimmer Fredette and John Salmons, the Kings may elect to let him walk.
If that happens, Thornton should be a target for the Utah Jazz. Thornton would fill a very needed position at shooting guard for the Jazz. He is able to start if necessary and can provide a spark off the bench as well.
The Jazz are in desperate need of a player like Thornton. If the price isn't too high, he should be considered by the Utah front office.
14. Monta Ellis
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
If the rumors that Golden State is shopping Monta Ellis are true, then the Jazz should put their name on the long list of interested teams.
Ellis is a top-10 scorer in the NBA and provides instant offense when out on the court. He is a go-to guy and could provide a No. 1 scoring option for the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz lack a guy they can go to at any time to get a shot. After Deron Williams was traded, nobody on Utah's roster became the go to scorer. Ellis could provide that to the Jazz.
With a loaded frontcourt and many young prospects, there is no doubt that Utah could put an attractive offer on the table for Ellis. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap would be among the players discussed. Ellis would be a much-needed addition to the Utah offense.
13. Earl Watson
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Earl Watson is a free agent in 2011. He played well for the Jazz off the bench last year, backing up Devin Harris and Deron Williams. Watson is a former starter in the NBA and can step into that role in case of injury.
He may not be a big-name free agent, but he is familiar with the Jazz organization, can provide leadership to the young player and can put up solid numbers for a backup point guard.
Re-signing Earl Watson would solve the backup point guard situation in Utah. Somebody has to be signed for that role, and Watson has proven that he can handle it. There are other targets to fulfill this role that will be discussed later on the list, but Watson should at least be in the discussion when the lockout ends.
12. T. J. Ford
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Speaking of backup point guards, here is another one that Utah should target after the lockout. T.J. Ford is not the best point guard available on the market either, but he can still provide good minutes off the bench.
Last season, his numbers went down below his career averages. This is due to the fact that Darren Collison has emerged as the point guard of the present and future for Indiana. With the addition of George Hill on draft night, Ford will likely have to find a new home.
The Jazz should target him as a potential backup to Devin Harris. He would bring experience and skill to the team. He has averaged over 11 points, six assists and three rebounds a game for his career. This would give the Jazz a reliable guy to run the point when Harris is out of the game.
11. Jamal Crawford
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Jamal Crawford will be entering his 12th season in the NBA when the lockout ends. He is 31 years old and did not have his best season last year. Those are not good arguments for the Jazz to target him, are they?
Well, here are some reasons that they should target him. First of all, he plays a position that the Jazz desperately need to upgrade. He averages over 15 points a game for his career. He shoots an excellent percentage from the free-throw line and the three-point line.
Crawford is instant offense. He can create his own shot or benefit from a kick out from the big guys underneath. Crawford has been coming off the bench behind Joe Johnson in Atlanta. It is possible that the Jazz would have him start immediately.
Crawford may bring a higher price tag than most shooting guards, but the former sixth man of the year would be a great addition to a depleted Utah backcourt.
10. Shawne Williams
Nick Laham/Getty Images
As you can tell from some of the selections so far, not all the names on this list are big-name free agents. Shawne Williams is another player that would contribute to the Utah Jazz that will not demand an outlandish contract.
Last season, I watched Shawne Williams drain three-pointer after three-pointer at Energy Solutions Arena against the Jazz. He has a pure stroke and when he is on, he is deadly. His numbers aren't big, but the 25-year-old still has room to develop.
Williams stands 6'9" and plays small forward. He has a height advantage over most other small forwards and can stretch the floor well. His outside shot and his above-average size at his position is what makes him someone that the Jazz should target.
9. J.J. Barea
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
You were probably wondering when Barea was going to show up on this list. After all, he is on every other list like this as he is a target for most teams. After his performance in the NBA Finals last year, Barea's stock has gone up.
Most likely, his stock is a little higher than his ability. He is probably going to be overpaid by whatever team signs him after the lockout. This does not mean that the Jazz shouldn't even try. You never know what could happen.
The Jazz need a good backup point guard, and Barea has proven that he can provide great energy off the bench. He is small, but he is energetic and can get the job done. I don't think that the Jazz will end up signing Barea, but his name should be on the target list just in case.
Barea will be a Dallas Maverick next year. That is my prediction at least.
8. Jason Richardson
J. Meric/Getty Images
I know what you are thinking. Jason Richardson is old. Why would the Jazz be interested in an old, past-his-prime shooting guard? While he may be past his prime, Richardson is only 30 years old and still has some good solid years ahead of him.
We got used to seeing him throw down some of the best, most ferocious dunks that we have ever seen. That was his game. Now, he has developed a very reliable three-point shot and can play decent defense. He will still throw one down every once and a while too.
Richardson averaged over 15 points a game last season and averages over 18 a game for his career. The Jazz would benefit from having a scoring shooting guard with 10 years of experience in the league. This would be a good signing for Utah.
7. Arron Afflalo
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Arron Afflalo is perhaps the most underrated shooting guards in the league. He averaged over 12 points a game last season in 33 minutes on the court. Those are not bad numbers, especially considering the guys who played around him.
Afflalo should be one of the main targets for the Utah Jazz following the lockout. He is used to playing as a starter and could give the Jazz some good outside shooting. He would fit into the system perfectly in Utah, and he would have his opportunity to play
If the Jazz were to sign Afflalo, I would expect him to average over 15 points a game. He would have no J.R. Smith waiting to come in off the bench to compete with his minutes. Afflalo would, without a doubt, perform well with the amount of playing time and his role in Utah.
6. O.J. Mayo
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
O.J. Mayo would have to come to Utah via trade. This is not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Mayo was very nearly traded for Josh McRoberts from Indiana at the trade deadline last season. It seems as if Memphis is ready to part with Mayo.
The Jazz would have a lot more to offer for O.J. Mayo. Perhaps, a Paul Millsap deal could work out for both teams. Mayo is an exciting player to watch when his head is in the game. He has struggled with his work ethic and determination. A new destination could change his attitude.
Mayo would most definitely be a starter at shooting guard for the Utah Jazz. He would be one of Utah's main offensive weapons and would be given plenty of opportunity to score. He averaged 11 points a game last year in limited action and averages 16 a game for his career.
Those numbers would likely go up as the first or second option for Utah. This could revitalize a less than motivated O.J. Mayo and his young career.
5. Shannon Brown
Harry How/Getty Images
Shannon Brown is young, athletic and would provide a combo guard that the Jazz could use in their rotation in a variety of ways. Brown is a shooting guard but can also provide valuable minutes at point guard. Both of those positions are greatly needed by the Jazz.
Brown will not be cheap. His numbers don't show the value that he will bring in the free-agent market. He only averages just under nine points a game, but that is in 19 minutes. It is hard to get playing time when you are behind Kobe Bryant in the rotation.
Brown would get more playing time in Utah and would have a much bigger role. I don't know if he'll sign with Utah, but he would benefit from a bigger role. I don't expect him to re-sign with the Lakers, and the Jazz need to target him when the lockout is over.
4. Thaddeus Young
Marc Serota/Getty Images
There is no doubt in my mind that Thaddeus Young will get a lot of attention when the lockout ends. This includes his current team, the Sixers. He will receive an offer from the Sixers and as a restricted free agent it may be the best he gets. He will most likely remain with the team.
However, this does not mean that he should not be targeted by the Jazz come free agency. He is only 23 years old and is loaded with potential. He averaged over 12 points and five rebounds a game. Numbers that will likely increase if Andre Iguodala is not by his side.
Young is 6'8" and is very long. He has an outside jumper as well as a good mid-range shot. He can penetrate to the basket as well. His defense is above average, and he can provide a spark at either end of the floor.
He has to be a target of the Utah Jazz, even if they are not likely to pry him from the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers.
3. Andre Iguodala
Marc Serota/Getty Images
Much like Monta Ellis rumors have swirled about Andre Iguodala being on the trade block. The fact that the Sixers will likely re-sign Thaddeus Young make these rumors even more true.
The Jazz have an opportunity to offer some good big men such as Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap in a deal for Iguodala. Iggy would be at defensive presence that the Jazz are in need of on the perimeter. Adding him to the roster would be a huge bonus, even if it cost Jefferson. Which, it likely would.
Iguodala is a great defender but also a good offensive player. He can score in the lane and draw fouls. He has also developed a decent perimeter shot over the years. If Iguodala is being shopped, then the Jazz would need to target him to make them legitimate contenders.
This type of a deal would be a big one but don't be surprised if Iguodala suits up for a different team next season. The Jazz could very well be that team if they make the right offer.
2. Nick Young
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Nick Young posted a career-high 17 points a game last season. He is only 26 years old and has a ton of potential. Young is a restricted free agent, but the Wizards may not have much interest.
With the development of Jordan Crawford, the right offer for Nick Young may not be there from Washington. I think that he will find a new home for next season.
He would be the perfect fit for the Utah Jazz. They need a shooting guard that can score. Young can definitely put the ball in the basket from all over the court. His scoring average should continue to go up, and I think he will be a legitimate threat to average 20-plus points per game.
The Jazz and Young would benefit from his signing with the team. He plays the position the Jazz need and he scores, something the Jazz really need help with.
1. Andrei Kirilenko
What? Re-sign Andrei Kirilenko? I must be crazy. The Jazz just got rid of his enormous contract. Why would they take a chance on re-signing him?
Kirilenko will not be $17 million a year anymore. I think that if the price is right, the Jazz should target AK-47. A three-year deal at $3 or $4 million a year is not a bad price for Kirilenko. If the Jazz can work out a deal like that, then adding Kirilenko would be a smart move.
He has played his entire 10-year career in a Utah uniform. He is the last remnant of the Stockton and Malone days in Utah. But enough nostalgia. That won't help win games. Kirilenko's numbers, however, can help.
Last season, he averaged 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, over one-and-a-half blocks and and one-and-a-half steals per game. Not many players can fill a box score like Kirilenko. He has shown during the EuroBasket tournament that he can still be a valuable asset to any team.
I think the Jazz should target Kirilenko as a defensive stopper off the bench. He still has a good game left inside him, and the Jazz have the opportunity to keep him around. They should do it.
Follow me on Twitter @HatchRyan