Donovan Mitchell has continued to be in the spotlight, and not because he’s dating a member of the Kardashian clan. Donovan Mitchell spent a few days during the finals acting as a reporter as he asked players from both Golden State and Cleveland questions. He also sat down with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on his podcast, The Woj Pod. Throughout the interview with Wojnarowski Mitchell proved to not only Jazz fans but the rest of the NBA that what they had seen so far was just the surface. Then the question was asked, already building a network with other players, did he plan on trying to recruit some of those players he had become close.
The main focus all-star Paul George, the Jazz passed on Paul George on draft night and instead selected Butler star Gordon Hayward. Mitchell said that he would for sure have a conversation with the man who he had helped eliminate during the first round of the playoffs this past season. He even went one step further and started his recruitment on June 8, which just so happened to be National Best Friend Day, and this came across his twitter. Mitchell was already spotted hanging out with Paul George shortly before he announced his attention to recruiting while both were attending the CAA Basketball Pro Day. Both were accompanied by Julius Randle a restricted free agent this summer. George has been linked to Julius Randle after he followed the soon to be the free agent just after finishing the season. Randle with his restricted deal will most likely be wearing gold and purple but is it so crazy to think that George could land in Utah.
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) June 9, 2018
To sign Paul George, the Jazz would most likely have to renounce the bird rights of veteran PF Derrick Favors. They would also have to waive two players out of Ekpe Udoh, Jonas Jerebko, and Thabo Sefolosha. A deal would have to be slightly backloaded to make it under the salary cap, but ownership group of the Jazz has stated they are willing to pay a luxury tax if it means they can win. The biggest positive in all of this is Donovan Mitchell; this is the best time for Utah to search the market for a player they can pair with Mitchell before he signs his max deal which is inevitable if he keeps up the production he had this past season. So, you sign Paul George, what does the Jazz look like and what can they do?
If Utah obtained Paul George, he’d quickly be penciled in as the starting SF. This would be no problem to current starting SF Joe Ingles as he petitioned multiple times to coach Quin Snyder while they struggled, he wanted to come off the bench. Ingles was not lazy or scared what he wanted to do is make sure coach knew that the team was first and if that meant coming off the bench then he’d do it. Ingles played in all 82 games and started in 81 of those games, Ingles is a proven weapon on both sides of the ball but could be even better off the bench. When Ricky Rubio was out due to injury in the playoffs Ingles slid into the playmaker role; if you had Ingles as your sixth man, he could be a playmaker while Dante Exum was in the lineup, who at times struggles to make right plays. So, a starting lineup of Rubio, Mitchell, George and Gobert, this lineup is missing a player who can sort of play PF.
This is the main problem with this situation if Derrick Favors is willing to come back for slightly less money Utah’s arms should be wide open. Favors who has been in the league since 2010 will turn 27 shortly after free agency begins. Favors still has room for development as he’s proven the last few years, he is continuously trying to become the stretch four that Snyder loves and the Jazz need. But, it’s happening very slowly, at 6’10’’ Favors can play both Center and Power Forward and guard at a pretty elite level both positions as well. The ultimate goal of the offseason for the Jazz is to persuade Favors to continue to play in Salt Lake and also to entice him to sign a friendly deal.
They do have the possible option to play Jae Crowder next to Rudy which with a movement of the small ball might be able to work. However, it’s hard to imagine, Crowder is only 6’6,” and though he has a physique to bruise down low, it may force too much activity towards Gobert. Look for Utah this upcoming season to try to lower the workload for Rudy to best protect him from injury. Even if Favors signs a friendly deal, Utah will still have to create some cap space. Most likely currently Dennis Lindsey is searching for someone to take on Alec Burks, Lindsey will most likely continue to do this all offseason as his deal hurts flexibility. Burks has had some injury problems but throughout the season had lots of DNP (did not play) due to coach’s decision. Burks iso style just doesn’t fit the Utah Jazz, and because of this, he had many healthy scratches which are very tough on a player that used to play a primary role on the team before his injuries. Moving Burks could free up the space to sign both Favors and George.
Lineup: Rubio, Mitchell, George, Favors, Gobert, let’s look at what the bench would look like. Exum would be direct backup to Rubio; the Jazz organization seems very attached to Exum despite his last few injury-plagued seasons. Hopefully, he can get some good work in being one of his few off-season’s where he’s been fully healthy. SG and SF and even at times, PF would be a rotation between starters and the bench players, Ingles, Crowder, and O’Neale. Each player brings something different and also can play excellent defense. At times it is very possible for both O’Neale and Crowder to see some time at the four similar to Draymond Green. Ingles would be your 6th man, after setting the record for most three-pointers in a season by a Jazzman Ingles would be first to take his warmup off. Utah will most likely continue to look for a stretch four in the draft as they used the one they had, Trey Lyles, to pair with a pick for Donovan Mitchell last season. Like the SG and SF position rotation of Gobert and Favors as we saw in the playoffs would also happen at the center position.
What could this team do, it seems under the play of Mitchell and Gobert Utah will be a constant playoff team. As the NBA stands right now, this team could be a Western Conference Finals team, very similar to the Houston Rockets. A duo of George and Mitchell is quite compelling and most likely would produce very similar to Harden and Chris Paul. No Mitchell would not be putting up Harden or CP3 numbers, he could, but the duo would play a style similar to those two. Rubio would enter a more traditional role that he did quite well in while he played in Minnesota. Favors and Gobert would continue to do what they do best, and the same with the bench players. It’s hard to see this team, however, beating the Golden State Warriors but could give them a scare as Houston did this season. Like Houston a few things fall right they could bring the first ring to Utah.
But it won’t happen, it is tough to see a reason why Paul George would join the Jazz. Utah has a great system, good player, great coaches but still, they play in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake is not a city for a star player; Salt Lake is for players such as Joe Ingles who could pass as a math teacher. The only hope that Utah has is to retain any talent they ever draft or develop; these players can see the joys of being able to live 5 miles away and be to practice in 10 min. They get to look at night in and night out how passionate Jazz fans are in Vivint Smart Home Arena. From a business standpoint, Salt Lake City is a great place to buy a house. Housing prices are on the rise, and more and more businesses are coming to Utah. They call it Silicon Slopes which is the area that extends about 60 miles south and 45 miles north of Salt Lake and the name is not just made up. Many analysts believe this area could be the next Silicon Valley, so we might see more and more players in the future start to sign with Utah if projections become true. Currently, it probably won’t happen, you’d have to find a player dedicated to the family looking for somewhere he can live as a civilian, not a superstar. Maybe a player that is also a good businessman like LeBron, who is a free agent this year…