Utah Jazz: 4 way-too-early midseason buyout candidates

Blake Griffin (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Blake Griffin (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Ben McLemore (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports) /

We didn’t waste much time getting to the potential fallout from a Damian Lillard trade request, did we?

Former 7th overall pick Ben McLemore hasn’t exactly lived up to his lottery draft position, but make no mistake: he still provides value on a good NBA team. More than anything, his potential fit with the Utah Jazz is tantalizing.

McLemore’s best season in the National Basketball Association arguably came as recently as 2019-20 as a member of the Houston Rockets. At the time, the Rockets were still entrenched in the recently abolished Harden era, with Russell Westbrook serving as the Beard’s star running mate.

The existence of the two ball-dominant, MVP-caliber superstars in the backcourt necessitated the presence of floor-spacing in virtually every other roster spot. McLemore was brought on board almost exclusively to shoot 3s, and he delivered, shooting a clean 40.0% on 6.4 three-point attempts per game.

Conveniently, that’s exactly what he’d be asked to do with the Utah Jazz. They may not roster a playmaker of Harden (or even Westbrook’s) caliber, but the talented triumvirate of Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley Jr. and Jordan Clarkson would certainly stand to benefit from the presence of such a dynamic three-point threat.

As currently constructed, the Jazz may be left wanting for a fourth rotational guard. Rookie Jared Butler enters the 2021-22 season with plenty of promise, but leaning on rookies is typically not a recipe for success for a team vying for the NBA championship. Furthermore, Butler is a point guard: the Jazz could benefit tremendously from rostering a player with McLemore’s floor-spacing experience and mindset.

This proposition is moot if the Portland Trail Blazers look the part of a contending team themselves. They won’t be interested in buying out a high-quality three-point threat of McLemore’s ilk if everything is going the way they hoped.

On the other hand, if things do go south in Portland, Ben McLemore might not even have to switch divisions in order to lend his services to a contending team.