Utah Jazz: Three impending free agents, three big decisions

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 20: Derrick Favors (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 20: Derrick Favors (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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SALT LAKE CITY, UT – JULY 6: Dante Exum (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – JULY 6: Dante Exum (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Dante Exum

2014-15 stat line (missed entirety of 2015-16): 82 GP, 22.2 MPG, 4.8 PPG, 34.9 FG%, 31.4 3P%,1.6 RPG, 2.4 APG

2016-17 stat line: 66 GP, 18.6 MPG, 6.2 PPG, 42.7 FG%, 29.5 3P%, 2 RPG, 1.7 APG

Exum’s situation is extremely similar to Hood’s, except you could argue that his extremes are even greater, which simply makes him an even bigger risk with perhaps a greater reward. Like Hood, Exum’s career is spattered with concerns regarding his health and his consistency. However, Exum has shown significantly less formidable play than Hood has. At the same time, though, Exum is nearly three years younger than Hood and arguably has even more promise and potential.

Therefore, pretty much everything I said about Rodney applies quite well to Dante. While he’s in serious need of proving himself, one breakout year could be all it takes to make his value shoot through the roof. Then the Jazz will be kicking themselves for not extending him when they had the chance to get him at a discount. On the flip side, though, splurging too early could stick the Jazz with an unfavorable contract if Exum is unable to produce.

If I had to make a prediction, it would be that Hood will likely be extended prior to the end of 2017-18. He appears the most likely to be a go-to scorer and impact player and has shown the most real promise of the three. Much like I predicted with Favors, though, I believe that the Jazz will let the season play out in its entirety before deciding what to do with Exum.

The good news with Exum is that he is a restricted free agent. And considering that he’ll more than likely continue to come off the bench this upcoming season, even if he has a good year, it’s hard to see a situation where he excels to the degree that other teams begin extending him outrageous offers that the Jazz aren’t able to match.

And that’s excellent for the Jazz. Even though his career has gotten off to somewhat of a slow start, he’s still very young and regardless of how 2017-18 pans out, he could yet break out to be a star player. Therefore, if the Jazz get lucky, they may be able to snag him on a somewhat discounted deal at the end of the year even if he plays well this season, then he could blossom further during the terms of that new agreement.

That would require fortune to truly smile down on the Jazz, but given their injury and free agent luck in recent years, it would seem that they’re quite overdue for such a change in fate.

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Each of these players is facing an incredibly important year both for their futures and for the fate of the Utah Jazz. The harsh reality is that if all three play exceptionally well, it’s quite likely that the Jazz won’t be able to comfortably afford all three of them and may have to pick and choose who best fits into their long term plans.

However, if any of them continue to struggle during the upcoming season, although it might make some of Utah’s subsequent decisions easier, it would still be disappointing for any of these high-potential players to falter.

Although 2017-18 may not be quite as successful of a season as the previous one was, there are so many intriguing story lines such as these three that are bound to make for an incredible year. And the performances and decisions made between now and the end of the upcoming season will almost assuredly be instrumental in shaping the Jazz roster for years to come.