The Utah Jazz are in a really tough spot. They are likely to lose at least one of their three best players in a few weeks and it is very possible they lose both. Gordon Hayward and George Hill both have wandering eyes. And if both leave, or even just Hayward, they are staring at dropping right back down into the lottery abyss. They have built slowly and deliberately to what they are right now, having made almost all the right moves. They have hit on high picks (Hayward), low picks (Gobert and Hood), traded well (Hill), played free agency well, (Joe Johnson and Joe Ingles), and have hired a fantastic young coach (Quin Snyder). They cannot afford to lose all they have built in one swoop. But they have virtually no power and are at the mercy of Hayward and Hill’s choices this summer.
So what can they do? Trade for Paul George.
The Jazz have plenty of young talent and assets that can be used to entice the Pacers and outbid many other teams. They have Trey Lyles, Dante Exum, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, their own draft picks, and an extra first round pick from each the Warriors and Thunder. If they can combine those assets in into PG13 then they should do it, even if he is likely to leave in a year. And here is why:
The addition of Paul George can and should be used as a recruiting tool for their own guys. It is a visceral sign to Gordon Hayward that the Jazz are committed to putting the best possible team they can around him to get into championship contention. They boast that they are one of the most well organized and efficiently run franchises right up there with Miami, Boston, San Antonio, and Golden State. They are doing everything right to win and they just need more talent. Paul George solves that problem. And George will fit seamlessly with their current roster construction. The Jazz use multiple ball handlers on offense, empower all their players to create off the dribble, and move the ball quickly. It doesn’t get sticky. And George gives them the weapon of a one on one scorer when their offense bogs down. Envision a less powerful version of what Durant does for the Warriors. Working George into that offense will be simple. Defensively, a lineup of Hill, Hood, Hayward, George, and Gobert will be terrifying for any team in the NBA and can even make the Warriors work to score the ball. Chemistry shouldn’t be an issue either with George’s experience playing with George Hill in Indiana and Quin Snyder’s basketball philosophy that keeps everyone involved. The current iteration of the Jazz is good but add Paul George and they have as good of a shot as anyone to beat the Warriors and play for the title.
And if you’re the Jazz you need to be asking yourself “Why the hell not? What do we have to lose?”
They are staring down the barrel of losing everything they have worked so hard to build. Instead of waiting to be victimized by another shinier or more historic franchise stealing their talent, the Jazz should be aggressive and take ownership of their own destiny. They should say, “Why not us?” They are as good as any team in the league not named the Warriors or Cavs. They can give players just as good of a shot, if not better, at winning a championship. Now is the time for the Jazz to shoot their shot. If they go down, they should go down swinging for the fences by trading for Paul George. And if Hayward and Hill leave anyway, they can flip George at the deadline and be in no worse position. The Jazz have nothing to lose. They put themselves in a position to have a bright future, now they need to go out and take it.