With Deron Williams having been traded to the Nets, it seems obvious that the Jazz have adjusted the mindset they had at the beginning of the year in regards to contending in the West and making a deep playoff run. Rumor has it that they're looking to get themselves under the luxury tax and acquire young players and other assets (such as draft picks) along the way so that they may build for the future. Keeping these goals in mind, the Pacers would appear to be an optimal trade partner for Utah because we can help them in each of those facets.
It's obvious that Al Jefferson hasn't fit in well as a member of the Jazz. Many of his minutes have come at center (a position for which I believe him undersized) in tandem with the similarly undersized Paul Millsap, and as a result, post defense has been an issue. Compounding his problems in Utah, he is being paid $13 million this year and will receive $29 over the next two, a price tag that doesn't appeal to a team going nowhere.
I'm well aware that many prefer Paul Millsap, but Millsap is just as inept defensively and while he is cheaper, the Jazz realize that there's more demand for him. As a result, the Pacers may need to give up more to get him (potentially more than we feel comfortable giving up) while I'm confident we can acquire Jefferson and give up nothing that we'll miss too much.
I propose the following:
Utah: T.J Ford, Brandon Rush, 1st round pick, $3 million trade exception
Indiana: Al Jefferson, Raja Bell
Utah gets everything they're looking for here: an expiring contract, a young skilled wing player, another pick and $3 million to boot. Counting Ford, the Jazz would have a whopping seven players and just shy of $34 million come off the books, which allows them all the flexibility they could want moving forward. In addition, Brandon Rush would probably be their best wing right away (do with that what you will) and is on a rookie contract for two more years. Finally, Indiana taking Raja Bell affords the Jazz a little more flexibility as they no longer need to worry about his 3 year contract. The pick and the $3 million (left over from Troy Murphy) are just a couple incentives thrown in.
For the Pacers, it means our search for a legitimate starting power forward is over. Jefferson is an All-Star caliber player when healthy and, besides that knee injury, has a reasonably clean bill of health. His salary is a little high but not unreasonable and probably gives us a better value than if we went out and tried to sign a West or Randolph in the offseason. He's a beast in the post and, at only 26, should at least give us a strong 2 and 1/2 seasons up until the end of his contract.
Most importantly, we're not giving up anything we'll miss. T.J isn't playing, George's development and Dahntay's resurgence has made Rush expendable and the draft doesn't look like it holds a player that helps us in the mid to late teens, where we would likely be. Raja adds a veteran wing, can play in a pinch and isn't that expensive.
Personally, I think this move makes us better than the Knicks right now (underwhelmed with the Anthony trade) and with Granger and Jefferson being 27 and 26 year old "elder statesmen" this is a team with a lot of room for growth over the next few years.
What do you think?