The Utah Jazz currently have more cap space than anyone other than the Brooklyn Nets. At $4.56 million under the salary floor, they’re a candidate to add a free agent. Is a Jimmer Fredette homecoming in the making?
The salary cap is something that hovers over every single decision teams make. It’s hard to understand and is strictly enforced. The most recent cap-related national news was Lebron James’ complaint about his team worrying more about money than winning. By keeping a roster spot open, he felt like he was being over-utilized in order for the team to save tax dollars.
On one hand, one could argue he can’t ever complain about the Cavaliers not spending money when they reportedly lost $40 million last year. But then that ignores the already mind-boggling reported value of the Cavs ($1.1 billion in 2016) rose $100 million in the last year following the championship. When you keep in mind Dan Gilbert bought the team for $375 million you start to understand why $40 million is basically lunch money to Gilbert and the reason they are willing to spend deeper into the salary tax than anyone in history.
My point of bringing this up is that sometimes managing a team in the NBA isn’t always about basketball, it’s just as much about the money.
The Utah Jazz are a team that has done about as well as any team could with the restrictions placed on the small market it exists within. They have drafted well above average and stayed under the cap in order to provide flexibility for the future.
The only problem with drafting so many good players is that they all need to get paid at some point. That’s going to force some hard decisions in the not so distant future.
For the moment, though, Utah is currently just under $14 million in cap space. Brooklyn is the only team with more by a paltry $23,000. More importantly, Utah is $4.56 million under the cap floor. Basically, unless the Jazz make some deals to spend that money, management will have to give it back to the players in an end of year share.
I have a hunch the players would prefer to take the extra $300,000 and not lose playing time.
And knowing the Jazz like we do, its more likely that the team stands pat, does nothing and gives the players that money. However, with management reaching out to Andrew Bogut there seems to be some research being done on players they could bring into the fold.
Which brings me to Jimmer Fredette. Former Wooden National Player of the Year recipient, Top 10 draft bust and Current CBA International MVP. After failing to stick with the Denver Nuggets in preseason, Jimmer went to China for a decent paycheck. What he found over there was something similar to the Jimmer Mania that entertained the nation during his senior year at BYU.
Now, as the Chinese league playoffs are under way and ultimately ending in a couple of weeks, he will be looking for another NBA gig. One way to rehabilitate an NBA career is to demolish the Chinese league as Michael Beasley and JR Smith have done and rejoin the league in March. Jimmer is currently averaging near 40 points a game and recently scored 73 in a single game!
Jimmer can only succeed in an environment where his “lack of defensive prowess” can be limited by the kind of elite rim protection that Utah provides. Also keep in mind that only two weeks ago, as our own Ryan Aston wrote, Utah was interested in trading for Lou Williams from the Lakers who is also a bench scorer/non-defender.
Fredette becoming a poor man’s version of Lou Williams isn’t that much of a stretch.
Ryan also wrote about Utah’s interest in aquiring Deron Williams following his buyout. Utah may potentially still be looking for a short-term solution to the volatility of their backup PG position. There is money to be spent and that is one area of need they may still have.
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Admittedly, I’m a Jimmer believer, and even I think this is a long shot. The more likely landing spot for Fredette is the Oklahoma City Thunder who are desperate for three-point shooting and just traded away their backup PG. They also have a rim protector in Steven Adams who can provide coverage for a poor perimeter defender like Utah. Albeit not as well.
Best case scenario, Utah is able to renegotiate with George Hill and use up that available $14 million and lock him up long-term. Short of that, it will be interesting to see what the Jazz brass decide to do with their carefully crafted cap space.