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

Blake Griffin (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Blake Griffin (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /
5 of 5
Utah Jazz
Kevin Love (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports) /

On face value, this might feel like the most unlikely in a series of already-unlikely suggestions. Kevin Love is stuck in the same purgatory that many formerly elite, presently overpaid NBA players find themselves in. He’s too old to find a place in a rebuilding club’s rotation, and he’s too expensive to find a viable trade partner for.

In other words, he should be a perfect candidate for a buyout. As it stands, Love has stated explicitly that he has no interest in leaving any money on the table in such a scenario. That’s more than fair. It’s just difficult not to wonder if the opportunity to play for an NBA title contender like the Utah Jazz might soften his stance.

He doesn’t precisely fulfil the requirements of the sort-of small ball center role that many envision Rudy Gay fulfilling for the Jazz this season. His negative reputation as a defender may be overblown (NBA Finals heroism aside) but his 113 Defensive Rating from last season does do little to inspire confidence. Slow-footed even in his athletic prime, the idea of Love being primarily responsible for closing out Nic Batum’s three-point attempts at 33 may be deeply disturbing to some.

Color us not concerned. If Kevin Love did become available through the buyout market, his presence on the Utah Jazz could pay dividends. The offensive potential of lineups featuring Love at the 5 with any combination of Royce O’Neale, Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Donovan Mitchell and/or Mike Conley Jr. (literally, any combination) is through the roof.

Meanwhile, Love could still occasionally man his old position at the 4 spot alongside Rudy Gobert, who may be able to cover for his defensive warts against particular matchups. Undeniably, that’s a front court combination that some teams would be able to run out of the gym, but it’s also one that could dominate in certain situations. To put it lightly, it’s difficult to imagine an opposing team grabbing a single rebound against this tandem.

Next. 5 best potential Jazz lineups in 2021-22. dark

Perhaps none of these scenarios are likely. The Utah Jazz may enter the 2021-22 season with the same rotation they exit it with. They look like contenders on paper and may opt not to fix anything that isn’t broken. Nonetheless, these 5 potential buyout options could be intriguing by the midseason mark.