A pair of Utah Jazz players are on the Phoenix Suns’ radar, but how a deal could be etched out has yet to be uncovered. Paul Coro reports that Phoenix has interest in Gordon Hayward and Al Jefferson. Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat appear to be the two likely pieces to any deal being worked out, Coro reports.
San Antonio is also reportedly in the picture to land Jefferson, as well, reported Chris Sheridan this past week.
But any inching toward a move being made will depend on what exactly Utah is looking to do.
The secretive Jazz have only made it obvious that they’re willing to move one of their starting big men. With Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors joining Jefferson on the roster, shedding one of the two highest-paid members of that foursome — Millsap and Jefferson — will be helpful since each is on the final year of his respective contract. Getting something in return is something the Jazz want to do.
So who do the Jazz want to move? Both players are 28 years old. Millsap’s upside probably hasn’t yet been reached, while Jefferson is more productive (17.4 points and 9.5 rebounds) but probably has peaked in potential. ESPN’s Ric Bucher has sources telling him that it’s actually Jefferson who Utah wants to re-sign. The reasoning behind that is the team would like to re-up on Hayward as well, but the Jazz can’t sign all three of those players.
Hayward, a 22-year-old, has long been respected by the Suns — former coach Alvin Gentry would often point to the 6-foot-8 wing as an X-factor when the Jazz faced Phoenix. He is playing 27 minutes a night but producing across the board with 13.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. The former Butler Bulldog also is shooting nearly 40 percent from the three-point arc.
Again, the rumor mill hints that Phoenix is working the phone lines. Jefferson and Hayward (together or separately) represent a few identities the Suns would like when they are developing a new culture: toughness, youth and a winning attitude. But even with interest in some widely-known trade pieces, the Suns still would have to out-compete other franchises, many of whom have better assets.
Just look at the one of the most recent subjects of Phoenix’s interest in Josh Smith. As quickly as that rumor floated about, it left and now Brooklyn is going heavily after the Atlanta Hawks forward.
Consider the Iman Shumpert news as well. Ian Begley reported that the Knicks were unlikely to give up their young combo guard in return for Dudley and a pick.
All-in-all, the Suns will be challenged with moving their pieces during the trade season. Unlike a team in that can pick and choose which players to move, the Suns probably won’t have the leverage in any major deal, simply because of their limited assets.