Will the Jazz trade Al Jefferson?

By: Nick Solari

Jefferson would fetch a pretty penny for the Jazz. (Getty Images)

Jefferson would fetch a pretty penny for the Jazz. (Getty Images)

Dwight Howard, Rudy Gay, Pau Gasol, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, DeMarcus Cousins, and now, Josh Smith.

All marquee names you have heard over the course of the past few months of the NBA season that have been discussed in trade talks.

Some, like Gay, have been traded. Some, like Garnett and Gasol, have been dismissed from the rumors (so we think). Some, like Smith, are still available and still filling our every waking moments with anticipation and anxiety.

One name you haven’t heard of as much as you probably should have that is still very available? Al Jefferson.

The Utah big man is averaging 17.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game so far this season. For his career, he is good for 16.3/9 a game. What’s more incredible? He has shot almost 50% from the field in all nine seasons so far in his career.

Premiere numbers, right?

The point is, this guy is an elite presence down low. He’s been that way his whole career. Jefferson has played with three different squads, but no matter where he is, he just keeps putting up numbers. You could even argue, depending on the situation, that he may be the best player available in all of basketball right now.

At this point, trading Jefferson makes sense for the Jazz. Utah needs to clear more playing time for young bigs Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, and they aren’t beating out the Thunder, Spurs, or Clippers in the West.

So why isn’t he being talked about as he should be? Well, fortunately for you lucky readers, we’re about to talk about his five most likely destinations, and match those teams with some specific trade scenarios as well.

Take note: the Jazz are one of the most secretive organizations in all of basketball. They like to do their business behind closed doors, so we may not know about any realistic suitors until the time comes where Jefferson has been officially dealt.

So, in good fun, we will speculate the most realistic trades that could actually go down. Here goes nothing, or, in Jefferson’s case, a whole lot.

Here are the three most likely destinations for Big Al:

1. The Spurs trade Stephen Jackson, Matt Bonner, DeJuan Blair, and a 1st-round draft pick for Jefferson.

The Spurs have been labeled in recent days as the “frontrunner” to acquire Jefferson. Their thinking is simple; the only team that stands between them and another NBA Finals appearance is the Thunder.

How does an old, but effective and skilled, team defeat the run-and-gun team out in OKC? Well, the Spurs need to slow the game down, magnify Westbrook’s turnovers, and win the battle on the interior. By acquiring Jefferson, the Spurs would easily have the best frontcourt in all of basketball. Teaming Jefferson up with Duncan, Kawhi Leanard, Borris Diaw, and Tiago Splitter, the Spurs would have a super-deep stash of forwards to slow the game down and win.

So why does this make any sense for Utah? Well, for one, they are getting the expiring contract of Stephen Jackson, good for about $10 million. They’re also getting a first round pick, and two formidable guys in Bonner and Blair whom they can try and add to an already young team.

If they cannot find any better offers, which they may not, Utah may be stuck in either accepting this deal or keeping Jefferson. If they choose the second, he would likely walk via free-agency and they would be left with nothing.

2. The Los Angeles Clippers trade Eric Bledsoe, DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler for Jefferson and guard Mo Williams.

 The other team vying for a spot in the Western Conference Finals with OKC? The Clippers.

Though it may seem like a stretch at first, think about it. The salaries match up, and it would, theoretically, give the Clippers a better shot at winning the title this season. Jordan could possibly be on his way out in the near future as it is, and Bledsoe isn’t being utilized to his full potential along side CP3. If they were to land Jefferson he may consider signing long term to play with the likes of Paul, Griffin, and Crawford. Heck, it’s a better situation than he is in now.

Utah would just absolutely love the Clippers to do this trade. The sticking point would probably be Bledsoe, but I think, ultimately, they would part ways with him for the right price. Jefferson is that price.

3. Al Jefferson goes to the Philadelphia 76ers for Thaddeus Young, Dorell Wright, and LaVoy Allen.

 This scenario would only prove logical if Philly decides, at some point in the near future, to find a Plan B for Andrew Bynum. Think about it, they would be getting a surplus of young players to build around Paul Millsap, which is far better than watching Jefferson walk.

If the dream scenario above with the Clippers doesn’t actually come into fruition than this could be the second best option for the Jazz. If it was actually offered by Philly, wouldn’t you have to assume it’s better than the Spurs offer?



Nick Solari is a freshman at Quinnipiac University and NBA savant. You can follow him on Twitter @Ns0lar1

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