It’s been common knowledge this season that the Utah Jazz will be trying to part ways with one of their big men, Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson. With the trade deadline getting closet and closer, it looks like the San Antonio Spurs might be interested in Jefferson.
Al Jefferson, averaging 18.7 points and 10.4 rebounds this season, is at the end of a contract that paid him $15 million this season. After raking in at least $11 million a season for five consecutive campaigns, he’s going to look for a maximum contract next season, something the Jazz aren’t planning to give him, with the same going to Millsap, making $8.6 million this season, also on the final year of his contract. The Jazz have a lot of faith in both Derrick Favors (9.4 points, 6.4 rebounds in 21 minutes) and Enes Kanter (6.3 points, 4.1 rebounds in 14 minutes) as their future frontcourt duo.
Despite going 28-22 this season, thanks to a fantastic home record of 19-5, the Jazz aren’t really believing they have a chance of going deep in the postseason, not without a point guard they’re happy with. The San Antonio Spurs have both Gary Neal and Patty Mills as their point guards sitting on the bench, making together just under $2 million. The good terms between both front offices is another sign that the Spurs shouldn’t have too much problems going after Jefferson if they choose to pursue this direction.
But the Spurs probably need to give more than just Mills/Neal for this deal to work. The Jazz are dropping a lot of money of their salary cap, but if they can get some quality, why not? Both Tiago Spiltter (10.6 points, 5.8 rebounds per game) and Stephen Jackson have been mentioned as possible trade chips in this deal. Splitter is also becoming a free agent at the end of this season, and is the same age as Jefferson. While he can be productive getting more minutes on the floor , and his defense improving, the Spurs might prefer to part ways with him if they know it can land them Jefferson.
Another question is the future – is Jefferson worth getting just for this season, as the Spurs feel it might be their last opportunity to make a run for the title with the Duncan-Ginobili-Parker core? Or is this thinking about the future, and building the franchise around Jefferson, who at least for a short while, unless he re-signs with the Spurs on a big contract which doesn’t feel like Popovich’s MO, might create the most fearsome front line in the NBA playing next to Tim Duncan.