Utah Jazz Brass Faced With ‘Good Guy’ Dilemma


Apr 13, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) dribbles the ball as Dallas Mavericks forward Richard Jefferson (24) defends during the first quarter at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

According to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune, the Utah Jazz have extended a qualifying offer to G/F Joe Ingles. The offer will make the Australian swingman a restricted free agent, allowing the team to match any offer he receives on the open market.

While this is undoubtedly great news for Jazz fans given Ingles’ work ethic, versatility and the attitude and fire he instills in his teammates, it brings to light an interesting dilemma facing the franchise as they look to build their team into a contender.

Let’s call it the “Good Guy” dilemma.

Last season, the Jazz received important contributions from a litany of unlikely sources. Ingles is a prime example of this. So too are Trevor Booker, Elijah Millsap and Bryce Cotton. Each, in their own way, were vital cogs for the team in their second half resurgence.

With that said, the Jazz bench brigade was undeniably one of the weakest in the Association last season. So while each of the aforementioned players brought something to the table that helped propel the team to a surprising 38 wins, you could also make the case that they lack the talent needed for the team to take the next step.

They’re good guys and hard workers, but are they good enough as basketball players to help the team jump into the NBA Playoffs?

Ingles in particular was a do-everything guy for the Jazz last season in relief of the injured Alec Burks. However, as much as he did on the court, there wasn’t any particular area where he excelled to the point of holding a major advantage over the opposition.

This is one aspect in which Millsap differs from the rest; in his somewhat limited time on the floor, he looked the part of an elite-level perimeter defender. Of players averaging at least 18 minutes per game, Millsap ranked fourth in the NBA with a defensive rating of 95.4.

Conversely, his true shooting percentage of 45 placed him in the bottom ten of the same group. He also struggled to make decisions with the ball in coach Quin Snyder’s offense.

Apr 11, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Utah Jazz forward Trevor Booker (33) drives to the basket on Portland Trail Blazers center Meyers Leonard (11) during the first quarter of the game at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Booker did not struggle in this regard. He was a dependable bench scorer all season long and made major strides as a three-point shooter in the Jazz offense. He was also the ultimate energy guy and the emotional core of the team’s attack.

Still, what some would label tweener size affects his game and the team on both sides of the ball. He’s simply not big enough to contend with elite fours and not quick enough to hang with high-level threes.

Cotton’s hang-up is also an issue of size. Six-foot-one and 170 pounds soaking wet simply does not equate to NBA success in the majority of cases. Meanwhile, Cotton was able to push pace and score the basketball at a rate higher than the team’s other point-men.

And so it is that GM Dennis Lindsey is faced with a conundrum. Here you have a group of high-character guys that each do things on the basketball court that make you love them.

But are they good enough?

If the answer is no and the team decides it needs ballers with more refined skill sets, then you probably hit free agency and the trade market. However, if you decide to part ways with Booker and/or Ingles, you also risk losing the heart and soul of what this Jazz team has become.

Further complicating matters is the ongoing influx of players. The Jazz just drafted Trey Lyles and Olivier Hanlan. Burks is set to return from his shoulder injury. Then there’s the potential of Tibor Pleiss being in the mix, as well as an intriguing crop of free agents hitting the market next month.

The ball is in Utah’s court with all of these players. Ingles is a restricted free agent. The team essentially owns a second-year option on Booker’s contract. Cotton and Millsap are both signed to low-dollar non-guaranteed deals.

It could be argued that you keep the lot regardless of the moves the team is looking to make this summer. At that point, you let talent win out and send the rest to the end of your bench. But how would a player like Booker, one who is undoubtedly a quality rotation player in the league, react to such a demotion?

Of course, these are hypothetical situations, but ones that Snyder and Lindsey must consider as they look to build a championship-contending roster.

They are good dilemmas to have and the mark of a team headed toward bigger and better things, but dilemmas nonetheless.

Next: Tibor Pleiss Spotted in Salt Lake City!

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