The 2020-21 NBA season was the year of the Utah Jazz. Well, it appeared to be.
The Jazz took the NBA by storm during the regular season. Utah finished the regular season with the best mark in the league, going 52-20 and earning home-court advantage throughout the course of the NBA playoffs. However, just as they had the year prior, the Jazz folded.
Utah now finds itself on the precipice of what could be pretty significant changes. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are locked in as the team’s cornerstone players, but the Jazz could move other key contributors on the roster.
The Utah Jazz blew a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals
The Jazz’s playoff run was going according to plan early.
Utah lost Game 1 of its first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, but they promptly ripped off four straight wins to advance to the second round. Things got even better for the Jazz when they took a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers in the conference semifinals.
However, the Jazz were about to experience an unfortunate case of deja vu.
The Clippers won each of the next four games, even triumphing in the final two contests despite the absence of Kawhi Leonard. It marked yet another brutal collapse for Utah after it blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the 2020 playoffs.
A season that began with so much promise ended in massive disappointment. The playoff collapse might result in some major changes to Utah’s roster.
The Jazz could trade a number of impact players this offseason
This was already going to be a bit of an interesting summer for the Jazz.
Point guard Mike Conley is set to be a free agent. Tony Jones of The Athletic reported Utah will “make every attempt” to re-sign Conley. Doing so, however, could necessitate changes elsewhere.
The Jazz are already on the hook for over $134 million for the 2021-22 season, per Basketball Reference. They might have to move some money around to avoid massive luxury-tax penalties, especially if Conley gets anything close to a max contract.
Utah is apparently considering several options in this regard. Matt Moore of The Action Network reported the Jazz are “eager” to trade Derrick Favors, who has close to $20 million in salary left on his current deal. Moore also reported that Utah is open to possibly moving forwards Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles if there is a “significant upgrade” in a potential deal.
In other words, the supporting cast around Mitchell and Gobert could look quite a bit different next season.
How these potential changes could impact the Jazz’s outlook
Losing Conley in free agency would be enough of a hit for the Jazz.
The veteran point guard has ample value because he can help take Mitchell off the ball and spaces the floor with his ability to shoot the three-ball. Conley can also make plays slashing to the rim, often finding a rolling Gobert for alley-oop jams or easy buckets in the painted area.
Trading away Bogdanovic and Ingles could drastically impact the team’s style. Bogdanovic gave the Jazz a legitimate No. 2 scorer as a guy who can be a sniper from beyond the arc while also displaying craftiness in the post and breaking defenders down off the dribble. Ingles, meanwhile, often ignited the second unit with his playmaking as a point forward. He is another guy who can fill it up from deep.
As for Favors, he still has value to the Jazz as a guy who can rebound and defend off the bench, though his value might not align with his salary for the upcoming season.
Regardless, the Jazz appear to be considering a multitude of options to get over the hump and make deeper playoff runs in the years to come.