Dennis Lindsey, the Utah Jazz’s executive VP of basketball ops, has revealed that multiple max-level free agents were intrigued by the team this offseason.
The casual fans out there and national pundits who don’t often venture out to sleepy Salt Lake City may not know it, but Utah Jazz fans sure do. Their team is a Cadillac; a well-oiled machine that always performs at its peak level.
Unfortunately, Utah’s small-market status and unique quirks also preclude potential free agents from seeing that which seems obvious to the Jazzland masses. The bright lights, the hustle and bustle and the marketing opportunities provided by big-city teams seemingly bumps the Jazz to the back of the line in their eyes.
That’s always been the story, anyway.
According to Jazz personnel guru Dennis Lindsey that story is changing in a major way. Not just in some esoteric or hypothetical sense either. He says they actually saw it manifested in their dealings with players and agents this summer.
In an interview with Bill Riley/ESPN 700 Sports in Salt Lake City, Lindsey said the Jazz actually had a legitimate shot at max-level free agents this offseason.
Said Lindsey —
“If we didn’t pull off the Mike Conley trade, we had several max-level free agents that were ready and willing to come.”
Of course, Lindsey wouldn’t reveal which free agents he was referring to. An easy guess on one is Tobias Harris — stories about his interest in the Jazz have circulated before. D’Angelo Russell makes sense, too, given his friendship with Mitchell (with whom he shares an agent) and Utah’s pre-Conley backcourt needs.
That last one is probably a big, fat no. Still, if “several” other max guys were in play, that’s no skin off their backs.
Lindsey also alluded to some logistical challenges in making it happen with some of them. That said, the fact that several were prepared to make the jump is huge. According to him, the team’s developmental program, track record of winning and facilities have helped open doors for the franchise.
In the past, those doors felt as though they were slammed shut and barricaded on the other side. That’s a major sea change.
Ultimately, the Jazz opted to make the trade for Conley and that set the tone for the rest of their offseason. Clearly, the end result was a massive upgrade to the roster and Jazz fans should feel good about that.
But they should also feel good about the fact that the Jazz had other great options, and that they ultimately went down the road they did because they felt it was their best path to a title.
When a team is able to dictate its own course in that way — and say thanks, but no thanks to top-level guys in the process — that team is in a great place as a franchise.
It’s a Cadillac, every sense of the word.