The Utah Jazz traded away Jarred Vanderbilt, but was that the right move?
The Utah Jazz made the move last year to get the most out of three players; Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt in exchange for Russell Westbrook and a first-round draft pick from the Los Angeles Lakers. Conley went to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of this trade, while Beasley and Vanderbilt went to the Lakers.
As part of the trade, the Lakers also got D’Angelo Russell, while the Timberwolves also got Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and ’24, ’25, and the ’26 second-round picks from Washington or Memphis and the Jazz. The Jazz also got Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damian Jones. Yet, of all the players that made the move, only the Lakers seemingly kept anyone.
On Friday, the Lakers agreed to a deal with Vanderbilt to keep him with the Lakers for the next four years, at a clip of $48 million total. That’s a lot of money for a defensive-minded guy, and so the question has to be asked; did the Jazz make the right call giving up on Vanderbilt?
Vanderbilt landed in Salt Lakey City at the start of the season thanks to the Rudy Gobert trade, and with the Jazz not knowing what they had in fellow new arrival Walker Kessler, a lot of people were happy to have someone as defensively gifted as Vanderbilt in town. Just in case Kessler wasn’t what fans were advertised he would be.
Kessler was everything that was hyped, however, and while Vanderbilt was never elite as a defender, the Jazz was better defensively. Now that Vanderbilt is gone and getting paid, it helps to ask that question again; did the Jazz make the right move in getting rid of him?
He’s an NBA-caliber player, that’s for sure, but he’s not worth nearly $50 million. He’s not so good defensively that he changes the fortunes of a team on his own, and if we’re being fair, he’s a hindrance on offense. He’d have gotten a new contract with just about any team he got traded to, but the Lakers are likely the only ones who would’ve given him the years and the cash he got.
His limitations are too bountiful to risk investing nearly $50 million in him. The Jazz made the right call, as that draft pick may one day prove to be a far better player than anything you could hope for Vanderbilt to ascend to.