How the Utah Jazz can rescue Dejounte Murray
You might have missed it if you’re not a Utah native or resident, but the Jazz are a legit point guard away from being a very interesting team. The Jazz’s 24-26 record isn’t all that impressive, but when you consider they started the season 7-16, things begin to get more intriguing.
The catalyst to their quarter-season turnaround was the decision to start Collin Sexton at point guard. Since the move, the Jazz are 17-10, and Sexton has been exceptional, averaging 21.6 points, 5.5 assists, and only 1.8 turnovers per game on 50.6 percent shooting from the field and 42 percent shooting from 3-point range. For as great as Sexton has been leading the Jazz, Murray has shown to be a far better playmaker, and his season average of 21.5 points per game is almost identical to Sexton’s 27-game run.
While Sexton proving he is an impact NBA player again, the Jazz already have an in-house star in the frontcourt to pair with Murray. Lauri Markkanen has proven that last season’s All-Star and Most Improved Player campaign wasn’t a career year but was instead him establishing a new level of play. The pairing of Markkanen and Murray would give the Jazz an in-their-prime core of All-Star caliber players to try and attract another star while also competing for the playoffs.
To land Murray, the Jazz will have to send Talen Horton-Tucker’s expiring contract, Keyonte George, and the Cavaliers and Timberwolves’ 2025 first-round picks. George, a point guard, was the 16th overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft and has shown promising flashes in his rookie season. Horton-Tucker is predominantly in the deal for salary purposes, but a creative coach like Quinn Snyder could possibly find a role for him where he excels.
However, the real prize for the Hawks would be securing two 2025 first-round picks. The Cavaliers and Timberwolves have had fantastic seasons but face challenging offseasons. The Cavaliers have to decide if Donovan Mitchell will stick around, and if he won’t, they may be forced to trade their best player. While the Cavaliers could take a step back, the Timberwolves offseason could get incredibly ugly.
The Timberwolves have $184.9 million in salary committed to 11 players if all options are exercised, and none of them are NBA quality point guards. The Timberwolves have been a mess without Mike Conley this season, and there’s no guarantee he’s back as he’s on an expiring deal. Even if he is, there’s very little chance all of Rudy Gobert, Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Jaden McDaniels are as well.
The Timberwolves are going to have to make major cost-cutting moves if they don’t want to pay a Warriors-esque luxury tax bill, and that almost certainly means losing talent. The Hawks shouldn’t expect both picks to end up in the top 10, but one landing there is totally within the realm of possibility.