Utah Jazz: What I like and dislike about the Crowder-Hood trade

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 17: Jae Crowder #99 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts before the game against the LA Clippers on November 17, 2017 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 17: Jae Crowder #99 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts before the game against the LA Clippers on November 17, 2017 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz were involved in a blockbuster trade today that sent Rodney Hood to the Cleveland Cavaliers while bringing Jae Crowder to Salt Lake City.

Well, so much for the 2018 NBA trade deadline being boring, right? And while the Cleveland Cavaliers made the most headlines, they couldn’t have done so without a major three-team trade that involved the Utah Jazz.

And while most of you are likely well aware of just what went down leading up to Thursday’s deadline, here’s the breakdown of the major pieces involved:

  • Cavs received Rodney Hood from Utah and George Hill from the Sacramento Kings.
  • Sacramento received Iman Shumpert from Cleveland and Joe Johnson from Utah (he is likely to be bought out).
  • Utah received Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose from Cleveland (Utah has already opted to release Rose).

My initial reaction to this deal, quite honestly, was one of utter surprise. I knew that the Jazz had shown interest in Jae Crowder during the whole attempted sign-and-trade with Gordon Hayward debacle, but as tends to be the case regarding trade rumors, there was little chatter to back up that the Jazz were seeking Crowder at the deadline. So I definitely didn’t see it coming.

And while I have actually liked Crowder for quite some time, I initially questioned this move upon first learning of it. However, after having some time to mull things over and digest it, I’m definitely more comfortable with the deal, despite a few concerns. With that being said, here’s a look at what I like and dislike about the trade.

What I Like

First and foremost, setting to one side what the Jazz parted with to make this deal happen, as I mentioned before, I like Jae Crowder as a player. If Utah could have magically transported him off of the Cavs roster and onto their team without giving anything up in return, I would have been absolutely elated. That right there is a good sign and a good starting point.

Despite somewhat of a down year thus far in Cleveland, which could be attributed to poor fit and a poor locker room situation, Crowder has always been a hard-nosed player who plays tough defense, hustles, brings tons of energy to the table and is more than willing to embrace whatever role will be the best for the team. He’s not a guy who has to have the ball in his hands all the time to be effective and there are so many things he brings to the court on both ends of the floor that make a team better.

In short, he fits perfectly with the mantra of the Utah Jazz. His energy and grit alone would likely earn him an important spot in Utah’s rotation. Add in the fact that he’s a versatile defender that can match up against several positions, a capable three-point shooter (39.8 percent last season on 5.5 attempts per game) and an all-around team player rather than a stat seeker, and he should fit this team like a glove.

When Utah wants to go small, he should be a nightmare defensively alongside Rudy Gobert and particularly if Quin Snyder can help get Crowder back to his Celtics form, he could very well be a weapon on the offensive end as well.

Crowder had a terrific chemistry with his teammates in Boston and given that the Jazz have a similar system focused on ball movement, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him develop a near identical chemistry with his new squad in Utah. He’s already familiar with former teammate Jonas Jerebko and his competitive and determined nature should help him be a perfect match with the likes of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.

But the pros regarding Crowder go well beyond what he can bring on the court. He’s also on one of the most friendly contracts in the league. He’s set to make just under $7 million this season, then that amount increases to $7.5 million next year and $7.8 million in 2019-20. That means Utah has locked in a starter-caliber player for the next three years at an incredible value. Meanwhile, many surmised that Hood alone was going to cost the Jazz upwards of $15 million per year after this summer.

In other words, Utah has added a versatile piece that helps fill their stretch-four need (assuming he gets his three-point percentage back up) without hampering their financial flexibility. Crowder’s addition should help the Jazz be a better team while also allowing them to add further to their ranks in the upcoming summers.

Last of all, while parting with Joe Johnson and Rodney Hood certainly hurts to some extent (more on that in a bit), in a lot of ways dealing them in order to land a valuable player such as Crowder is another aspect of this deal that I absolutely love.

In the case of Joe Johnson, his time with the Jazz was already ticking down as Utah was set to buy him out if he couldn’t be traded anyway. Johnson had made it known that he wanted to play for a contender and he didn’t fit Utah’s long-term plan anymore. Thus, Utah benefited by moving him to the Kings (who are planning to buy him out also) as it saved the Jazz having to foot the bill for his buyout.

Johnson also had a pretty negative impact on the defensive end, so swapping him out for Crowder should provide a nice lift in that regard. The Jazz obviously didn’t want to hold Johnson hostage after he took a chance and signed with this Utah team, then went on to propel them to a playoff series win last year, but they were hoping they could deal him in some way to not lose him for nothing. They accomplished both of those objectives and it really looks like a win for both parties at this point.

Regarding Hood, I certainly think he has the potential to be a more talented player than Crowder. His perimeter shooting and skills as a wing player make him a coveted asset across the league. Quite honestly, when I first saw that all Utah had gotten for Hood was Crowder (I’m excluding Rose who was promptly waived), I initially thought that the Jazz had gotten a bad return in terms of player worth.

That argument could certainly still be had. But now that I’ve had some time to think things through, parting with Hood even if it was for an arguably inferior player in Crowder, was the right move. Several reports have surfaced, particularly from Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune (see below), that the Jazz-Hood relationship had run its course. Give Hood props for staying professional about the whole thing on the surface, but it appears that things were a bit uglier behind the scenes.

With Hood wanting out, hoping for an expanded role as a starter on a new team, and with Utah already feeling hesitant about paying him in the first place, it’s nothing short of a guarantee that he wasn’t coming back next season. Not only that, but his spotty defense, struggles with consistency and frequent injury woes were all large concerns.

Yes, Hood had moments where his offensive firepower were much-needed (Utah’s two recent wins are great examples), but there are also plenty of occasions where the Jazz have played just fine or even better without him. The Jazz weren’t going to bring Hood back next year anyway and it appears that his attitude and fit with the team weren’t exactly where the organization wanted them. In those regards, adding Crowder instead, who could be a complete reversal of those two traits, is an absolute win.

Not to mention, considering how hesitant teams were to give up first-round picks and that the likes of Tyreke Evans, Marcus Smart, Lou Williams and Avery Bradley weren’t dealt, it’s pretty clear that the offers out there for players of Hood’s caliber weren’t all that extravagant. With that being the case, getting Crowder for him is a pretty dang good deal. And a heck of a lot better than nothing.

When this deal first broke, I didn’t think I’d be able to string together this many paragraphs of things that I like, but lo and behold, here we are. Despite initial reactions, I’m very happy with what Dennis Lindsey and the Jazz were able to pull off in acquiring Crowder.

What I Don’t Like

But in spite of all those positives, this deal still wasn’t perfect, in my mind. Of course, trades rarely are, though. If a deal leaves both teams hurting somewhat, it’s probably a good indication that it was a pretty fair trade, but there are certainly ways that this particularly stings for the Jazz.

First of all, despite Utah’s recent seven-game winning streak, they’ve struggled on the season overall offensively. That issue could become even more significant now that the Jazz have dealt two of their more prolific offensive threats. Say what you will about Hood’s consistency, but when he was on, he could be deadly. As recently as last night’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies, both Hood and Johnson played instrumental roles in providing the scoring firepower for the win.

Crowder has some offensive prowess, but he hasn’t shown it much this year. He’s averaging just 8.6 points per game on 41.8 percent shooting from the field and 32.8 percent from deep. Those are far from good marks. Many have presumed that Quin Snyder and his system will be able to coax the best out of Crowder, allowing him to return to his prior form, but that’s far from a guarantee.

If he does, then this deal may very well turn into a big win for the Jazz. If he doesn’t, however, it could be somewhat of a bust. Even though Crowder is on a great contract, it would be a shame to be stuck with him for three years if his best basketball is behind him.

Therefore, there’s no shortage of risk in giving up a talented young player with a high upside in Hood for a player like Crowder that’s in somewhat of a slump right now. Time will tell whether or not it pans out based on how each player’s career goes from here, but even if Hood blossoms, the fact that his fit seemed off in Utah makes this hurt less no matter what.

Finally, although Jae Crowder will likely take a big portion of Joe Johnson’s former stretch-four minutes, it still feels like moving Hood for Crowder has only added more of a logjam in the frontcourt while thinning out the roster on the wings. Sure, Ricky Rubio has played well of late and Raul Neto has been a serviceable backup. Donovan Mitchell is the star of the future, Royce O’Neale is a stud and Dante Exum could return soon. The Jazz also still have Alec Burks for added depth.

But between Derrick Favors, Jonas Jerebko, Thabo Sefolosha (when healthy) and now Crowder all slotting time at the power forward position (in Favors’ case, only when he shares the floor with Gobert), the four-spot seems pretty stuffed. Of course, this could change as early as this summer if Utah parts ways with Jerebko or Sefolosha, or doesn’t retain Derrick Favors, but it’s still significant that Utah would part with a valuable wing player while being so loaded at the power forward spot.

True, the Jazz have wanted a true and versatile stretch-four and Crowder could one hundred percent fill that need. But if he doesn’t get back to his shooting form from last season, he may not be as much of an upgrade over Jerebko or Sefolosha as Jazz fans would hope, then Utah may have just created an additional need without patching up a former one.

Rodney Hood is a talented and valuable piece and in a different market, the Utah Jazz could have very likely gotten more out of him, including perhaps a first-round pick. Therefore, especially if Crowder doesn’t get back to his old self and Hood blossoms, this trade could very well make the Jazz appear as if they came out on the losing end.

Next: Utah Jazz finally acquire Jae Crowder in trade for Rodney Hood

Nevertheless, with the way the market was this year, the Jazz did exceptionally well to land a player as competent as Crowder, especially considering that Hood wasn’t in Utah’s long-term plans anyway.

It may take time for the former Cavalier to adapt to his new squad, meaning that initially the Jazz chemistry could be slightly worsened and the current winning streak could come to an end soon. However, based on the kind of player Crowder is, I believe that this trade will be a very good thing for both him and the Jazz over the long haul.

Crowder fits Utah’s mantra, is extremely affordable giving the team more flexibility and fills a team need, all while the Jazz were able to part with two players that weren’t going to be back next year.

All things considered, I’d say it was a successful day’s work for Dennis Lindsey and the Utah Jazz front office.