For a team that finished the 2014-15 season with a record of 38 wins and 44 losses, the Utah Jazz have had an eventful off-season.
Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey has stated multiple times that the Jazz were “not going to skip steps” while following the rebuilding plan for long-term success rather than short term.
The Jazz started off free agency by resigning Australian forward Joe Ingles. Ingles was the childhood idol and favorite basketball player of another Australian on the roster, last year’s #5 overall pick Dante Exum.
Ingles brings back his three-point threat where he shot over 40% from distance after getting assimilated to the NBA game post all star break. Ingles also brings veteran leadership, which proves valuable as the Jazz starters will be aged 20, 24, 25, 24 and 23 respectively.
The second move of the off-season for the Jazz was the signing of their #12 overall pick in the 2015 draft Trey Lyles. Lyles brings a valuable asset to the Jazz as a 6’10″ forward who moves well with the ball and in the pick-and-roll offensive set.
Lyles will be the third power forward behind starter Derrick Favors and back up Trevor Booker. Lyles signed the usual four-year, rookie-scale contract, which will pay him about 10.4 million dollars.
The third move was the announcement that the Jazz would not decline Trevor Booker’s non-guaranteed salary for the 2015-16 season. Booker brings hostility, energy and an offensive skill set that can be valuable for a team. Trevor Booker is the Utah Jazz’s tough guy, and he fully embraces the roll.
On Thursday, July 9th, the fun really began. Raul Neto, who has been a standout in Europe, made his NBA dreams come true when he signed a three-year, 2.8-million-dollar contract with the Jazz to compete for the third string point guard.
Neto, a Brazilian point guard who spent the last two years in Spain, brings speed and offensive awareness to the Jazz’s back court. Neto will provide depth and great competition behind Dante Exum, Trey Burke and Bryce Cotton.
Following the first international signing, the Jazz continued their signing part, and on July 11th, Yahoo Sports reported that the Utah Jazz and German center Tibor Pleiss came to a contract agreement. A three-year and over-10-million-dollar commitment will bring Pleiss to Utah to fulfill his NBA dreams. Pleiss was acquired in the Enes-Kanter trade at the 2015 NBA trade deadline, which saw increased playing time for French Center Rudy Gobert.
Now Pleiss is slated to play backup to Gobert, providing quality minutes and depth in case of an injury. Pleiss is measured at 7’3″ with a 7’6″ wingspan. Playing behind Gobert who is 7’1″ with a 7’9″ wingspan means that the Jazz will have very few minutes played without a 7-foot center protecting the rim against the opponents.
Overall, the 2015 off-season has been a success. By expecting internal improvement through the off-season, the Jazz have added key pieces that will provide depth throughout the long 82-game season.
The Jazz look like they could make a playoff run in this upcoming season and will be a young, exciting team to watch. Keep your eyes on Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, Trey Lyles, Bryce Cotton, Oliver Hanlan, Chris Johnson and Jack Cooley in the 2015 NBA Las Vegas Summer League. Grant Jerrett will remain out for an extended period of time due to a dislocated shoulder in the Utah Jazz summer league.