NBA Free Agents 2011: 5 Players the Utah Jazz Must Target in Free Agency

Matt JonesAnalyst INovember 28, 2011

NBA Free Agents 2011: 5 Players the Utah Jazz Must Target in Free Agency

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    December 9, 2011 will start one of the craziest free-agency periods in NBA history.

    Not only will teams have a very short time to contact potential players, but they will be starting training camps and preparing for the 66-game season all at the same time.

    Depending on what the team decides to do with Andrei Kirilenko and Earl Watson, the Jazz will need to add a few players to round out the roster.

    The following is a list possible players that the Jazz need to look at to improve the team and bring in some veteran leadership to guide the young players.

    Each of these guys will be sought after by several teams in the league, but the Jazz may surprise us like they did when they signed Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur and become players in the free-agent market.

Tayshaun Prince

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    Last Season's Team and Salary: Detroit Pistons, $11.1 million

    The Pistons and Tayshaun Prince have wanted to part ways for several seasons. It seems like there have been multiple trade rumors involving Prince in the last couple of years.

    The upcoming short free-agent period may mark the opportunity that Prince has been looking for, and the Jazz will be looking in his direction.

    If the Jazz are not willing—or not able—to re-sign Andrei Kirilenko, Tayshaun Prince becomes a good option.

    He and Kirilenko have been described to be virtually the same player in size and athleticism. If Prince were to come to the Jazz, he would be an offensive upgrade from Kirilenko.

    Prince would also provide veteran leadership to a young team. His NBA Championship with the Pistons will gain him respect among the players.

    Perhaps it is a good time for Prince to get a fresh start. Perhaps Utah would be a good place for him to do that.

    Projected Salary: 4 years, $32 million

Caron Butler

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    Last Season's Team and Salary: Dallas Mavericks, $10.5 million

    As the fourth highest-paid player on the Mavericks last season, Butler was injured and did not contribute much to the team.

    Since the Mavericks won the NBA Championship without him, there is a good chance he will go to another team as a free agent.

    Many teams will be interested in Butler, hopeful that he can regain his pre-injury form.

    If the Jazz were able to work out a deal with Caron Butler, they would get a two-time All-Star who has been one of the top scorers in the league. He is very athletic, capable of creating his own shot and would be a good leader on a young Jazz team.

    He would fit well as a starter and allow some of the younger players time to continue to develop.

    Due to the uncertainty of his injury last season, Butler is a player that the Jazz must look at seriously, but be careful not to overpay. The team must carefully evaluate his level of risk versus the potential reward he could bring.

    Projected Salary: 3 years, $24 million

Jason Richardson

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    Last Season's Team and Salary: Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic, $14.4 million

    Jason Richardson was behind Gilbert Arenas and Dwight Howard as the third highest-paid player in Orlando last season. This offseason he will take a pay cut and will not make close to the $14.4 million that he did last year.

    Over his nine years in the league, Richardson has been known as an athletic scorer who has a variety of offensive tools.

    He has played on several teams, and although his scoring average dropped a bit this season, he will be a sought after free agent.

    If the Jazz were to sign Richardson, the team would get a shooting threat that could open up the offense for the low post players. He would also bring the veteran leadership and athleticism that the Jazz need.

    Projected Salary: 4 years, $28 million

Shane Battier

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    Last Season's Team and Salary: Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies, $7.3 million

    During the short time that teams will have to sign players, the Grizzlies will no doubt focus on re-signing Marc Gasol.

    This could be good news for the rest of the league, as teams may be able to take Shane Battier away from the Grizzlies as a free agent.

    Battier is a solid defender and a good spot-up three-point shooter. He is an all-around good guy and a great teammate. He would be a great influence and example for the young Jazz players.

    Like with other players on this list, the Jazz may need to spend a little more than Battier may be worth to get him to agree to play in Utah. If the team did pay more, he is one player who may be worth it, as he is the defensive player the Jazz have lacked for years.

    Projected Contract: 4 years, $31 million

Jamal Crawford

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    Last Season's Team and Salary: Atlanta Hawks, $10 million

    There is a good chance that Jamal Crawford will become the most sought after free agent in the league this season. His scoring ability and all-around offensive skills will be a selling point to many teams.

    In his last two seasons with the Hawks, he has averaged 18 and 14.2 points per game as the sixth man.

    Crawford has the ability to change a game when he is on the court. He brings energy and excitement to the floor.

    During his career he has been a starter, and if he were picked up by the Utah Jazz, he would most likely be a starter again.

    The Utah Jazz signing Crawford is a long shot, and he is one player the team would have to overpay to come to Utah. He is also one of only a few that may be worth it.

    Projected Salary: 4 years, $42 million

    Salary information found on