After two seasons with the Utah Jazz, 13-year veteran Thabo Sefolosha will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
After concluding a three-year stretch of 50-win seasons and playoff series victories, the Utah Jazz find themselves at something of a crossroads following their first-round elimination at the hands of the Houston Rockets. This summer, they have decisions to make on several players — chief among them: Derrick Favors, Ricky Rubio and Kyle Korver.
They’re not the only ones whose futures are uncertain, though; a low-key important decision facing Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey will be whether or not to retain 13-year vet and former All-Defensive Team pick Thabo Sefolosha. And, ultimately, it may not be up to just the Jazz.
Sefolosha, who will be an unrestricted free agent, has indicated that he’ll explore the open market.
At Jazz locker clean-out this week, the soon-to-be 35-year-old had this to say regarding a return to Utah in 2019-20 —
“I’m going to keep my options and kind of see what makes sense. Like I said, I had a great experience here for two years and I think it would be great if I came back and kept working with this group.”
Since joining the Jazz in the wake of Gordon Hayward‘s departure in 2017, Sefolosha has been a strong presence for the team on and off the court. He’s averaged six points, three boards and a steal per contest as a Jazzman, while connecting on better than 40 percent of his 3-point shots.
In doing so, he’s been an overwhelmingly positive impact player. This past season, the Jazz outscored opponents by 8.6 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor, a mark second only to that of Raul Neto.
On the down side, Sefolosha has been limited to just 88 games over the course of his tenure due to injuries, which begs the question of just how much tread he has left on the tires.
Ultimately, it may be a question of money and role for both sides. The Jazz paid $10.5 million over his two years in Salt Lake City; league minimum salary for a 10-plus year veteran should come in at just under $3 million next season.
If the Jazz are looking to make a splash in free agency or on the trade market, they ought not pay much more than the minimum to retain Sefolosha, and whether he’s willing to take a pay cut and continue on in a tertiary role remains to be seen.
I, for one, would try to extend the partnership into a third year, so long as the financials make sense and the Jazz don’t need the money elsewhere. Injuries aside, Sefolosha’s presence has been a major positive for the club. In particular, he’s been a mentor for Utah’s go-to guy in Donovan Mitchell.
In any case, we’ll likely have a better picture of what the future holds for Sefolosha and the Jazz after July 1, when NBA free agency opens.