The Utah Jazz are improving faster than anyone imagined, winning 50 percent of their games since rookie guard Trey Burke returned, including a 106-99 victory over Sacramento on January 27 -- and there isn't a thing that any Jazz fan can do to stop them.
The only option Jazz brass may have is to trade some of their best players to high-lottery teams -- receiving a top five pick in return -- so they can move up the draft order. Because at the rate they're going, they'll be lucky if they aren't out of the lottery entirely.
Below are several possible trade scenarios.
Enes Kanter To Any Lottery Team
The Big Turk is still trade bait, despite having better numbers by his standards. He's expendable because first, his contract is re-donk-u-lous! (4.7 mil this year, up to almost 8 mil in two years) In addition, backup Rudy Gobert has the wingspan of an albatross, he defends AND he has a five-year deal worth one-fifth of Kanter's. Also, Kanter can score -- he just can't defend that well. Most of the bottom five teams would love Kanter -- he can bang inside and shoot from outside. At the moment only two centers in the projected top five can potentially do that -- and neither Joel Embiid of Kansas nor Julius Randle of Kentucky are even close to Kanter's level, and so any deal should command big numbers.
Gordon Hayward To Boston
This possibility has been mentioned before by numerous sources. Now that Boston's losing a ton of games let's face facts: everyone on Earth knows Hayward played for Brad Stevens -- now the Celtics coach -- in college. Team president Danny Ainge has Utah ties. Those are two good reasons this trade could happen. Then factor in this: Even if the Jazz play out of their minds the rest of the season they can still trade Hayward to the Celts -- and get that coveted high draft pick to select someone like Duke's Jabari Parker. Right now Boston's record is worse than Utah's. (Not by much, mind you, but it is.) One draft board has the Jazz selecting point guard Dante Exum, and for plenty of reasons, that aint happening because duh, the Jazz already have the best young point guard in the NBA.
Expiring Contracts To Anyone
Why did the Jazz bring these guys in, anyway? Did they honestly believe Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush would be able to resurrect their long-forgotten careers in Utah? The short answer is no. So do what this article says, and trade them before the trade deadline for a first-round pick! Look, having them on the roster now complicates matters. It enables the Jazz to win more often -- which hurts their chances of getting a high draft pick to begin with. Also, they have played well in spots -- but you've got to be a contender for Jefferson to show any interest.
Package Deal Involving Alec Burks, John Lucas, Future Considerations
The Jazz made a habit last year out of trading key guys for role players and "future considerations," like that means something. Well, it does, except this year it's the opposite. The Jazz may package role players like Lucas and Burks and some "future considerations" to move up into Nos. 1-4 -- where Jabari and Andrew Wiggins will undoubtedly be. The Jazz could accomplish plenty, thanks, if they were able to rid themselves of Burks escalating deal, which pays him $3.2 million next year and 4.4 mil the following season -- a lot of cheese for an average two-guard, if you ask me. Trading Lucas is a no-brainer. In fact, the Jazz should trade up, period, in this draft to save themselves from future embarrassment.