On Monday afternoon, Tony Jones of the Athletic had reported Joe Ingles suffered a season ending ACL injury. Ingles plays a huge part for the Utah Jazz, as he is seen as a vocal leader in their locker room. The Jazz are already hurting with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert already out of the starting lineup due to minor injuries. Former Houston Rockets player Danuel House Jr. is out because of COVID related reasons. The Jazz are struggling to win and close out games due to their depth on the bench.
Their best option is to hope in the Caris LeVert or Eric Gordon market, as they are in need of a 3-D player and volume scorer. The Jazz admired Ingle's playmaking and creative scoring, which they will need in the playoffs. Ingles was also good at switch and pick-and-roll defense. He has a knack of getting on the opposing team’s nerves with verbal and physical antics throughout the game. Hopefully, the Jazz are able to get their hands on Levert or Gordon, as both the Rockets and Pacers are desperate for first-round picks.
This will become difficult to find a trade solution between the Jazz, Rockets, and Pacers because of the uneven salaries. Luckily, new TDS writer James Piercey will join me for this discussion so we can figure out where Gordon goes. Sidenote: The Cleveland Cavaliers also want LeVert or Gordon too. Although Gordon dropped 50 points on the Jazz in 2020, this team could need his help. It’s the Cavilers or Jazz. Hopefully, the Rockets get a good return.
Zach Allen: What’s going on James?! How is Canada treating you?
James Piercey: Cold, man. It’s -5 degrees Celsius in St. John’s, Newfoundland today. I can’t remember how to say that in American, but trust me, it’s cold.
Zach Allen: As you know, the Rafael Stone is looking for trade partners for Eric Gordon, which the Utah Jazz could be his new home due to Joe Ingles being out for the season because of an ACL injury. I really adore Jared Butler’s game since he played for the Baylor Bears. He is only averaging 6.7 minutes per game, as he hasn’t seen much burn with the Jazz. Butler has a huge IQ as a ball handler and knows how to find his scoring spots. It’s fun watching him operate the pick-and-roll, as that allows him to step into his shot. He would serve a great purpose next to Josh Christopher off the bench.
The Rockets could also think about adding another floor spacer like Eric Paschall, as he is shooting the three-ball at 38 percent. Paschall has the ability to defend 1-5 on the court because he is 6’6” with great upper body strength at 255 pounds. He makes great decisions at the top of the key when he observes the floor for passes. Paschall would make the deal go because of his helpful salary. The Rockets’ brass doesn’t want anybody getting in front of their rookies, and Paschall could clog up minutes Alperen Sengun. But who knows –Stephan Silas does a great job of managing player’s minutes. You did mention Udoka Azubuike and Jordan Clarkson’s salary helping out right?
James Piercey: I actually had an opportunity to interview Jared through my work with the J-Notes. I’ll tell you this much: that is one grown 21-year-old. Jared would be a preferred target from the Jazz as well. Unfortunately, Butler + Clarkson doesn’t work financially. Clarkson + Butler + Azubuike does, as does Clarkson + Azubuike and an FRP. To me, that raises two questions: do the Jazz want to flip Clarkson for Gordon, and would the Rockets prefer a FRP or Butler?
If the answer to the first question is no, it’s easy enough to sub in Ingles’ expiring contract for Clarkson’s deal. I could see the Jazz preferring the financial flexibility that comes with an expiring contract and looking to flip Clarkson instead. He’s having a rough year, shooting 32.3 percent from downtown. Gordon could make up most of his shot creation while providing elite spacing for Mitchell. I don’t think Mitchell and Clarkson play well together; they’re both ball dominant, undersized guards who are inconsistent from deep. Whether they’re dealing us Clarkson or Ingles, the Rockets probably won’t care. Neither is likely to be with the team long term.
As for the second question, I think I like Butler enough to take him over a protected first-round pick. On the other hand, an unprotected, distant FRP is probably more valuable: it’s hard to say where this Jazz franchise will be down the road. There are rumors that Mitchell would like to play in a bigger market: if that’s true, they could be a lottery team by then.
I think Azubuike is intriguing too, beyond making contracts work. This kid is 280 pounds and holds the Draft Combine record for vertical leap for a big man. I think he could be a great reserve.
Zach Allen: I love it. Because I did mention Jordan Clarkson, Caris LeVert, and Eric Gordon being in a three-team deal, which would be incredible if that deal could happen. All the Rockets need is additional role players and draft picks. The Jazz could be reluctant to give up Clarkson, as he is very useful to them. They possibly have a hard situation when it comes to trading for players. What do you think?
James Piercey: I guess I already answered this, but I don’t think the Jazz should be too reluctant to part with Clarkson. Gordon is a better fit. He can carry the offense while Mitchell is resting and open up driving lanes for him with his elite floor spacing when they’re sharing the floor. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but Clarkson’s numbers skyrocket when Mitchell is injured. It’s always a problem when two ball dominant players can’t co-exist.
I’m not really high on LeVert in general, but I definitely think a three-team deal could be in play. I know it’s rumored that the Pacers want two first-round picks for Levert. That seems unrealistic. Maybe they’d settle for Clarkson or Gordon and one of Houston’s fewer valuable picks, and in turn the Rockets receive an unprotected first from Utah. Otherwise, I’d rather keep the deal between Houston and Utah.
Zach Allen: Last question. Will the Cleveland Cavaliers have to be involved? It could possibly turn into a four-team trade, as they are in need of a wing player. Nobody wants Ricky Rubio’s expiring deal for a second-round pick. For the Cavaliers to be involved they would need to release a couple of first-round picks. Cedi Osman or Issaac Okoro could come into play so they could eliminate the Pacers or add to the value for a wing player in return. The trade deadline is becoming closer, and these four teams want good returns.
James Piercey: My feeling would be that if Houston is trading with Cleveland, we’d keep Utah out of it. Rubio’s contract and a first-round pick for Gordon feels clean and easy. At the same time, this is the NBA trade deadline man. The safest prediction is that something totally unpredictable would happen.