In today’s NBA offensively gifted centers are at a premium. Guards like Kobe Bryant and a healthy Derrick Rose dominate the headlines. Some teams however, have a luxury of possessing multiple assets.This is the case for the Utah Jazz, where there is significant depth in the front court. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson form a dangerous tandem inside. The problem is both players hold such value as they near free agency this summer.
While performing like borderline All-Stars, these two men will likely command max contracts. Utah is currently $17 million over the salary cap. Being a small market team, it is more daunting to pay luxury tax. Now with less than one week remaining before the trade deadline, teams will be lining up with interest. The San Antonio Spurs are already said to be pursuing Jefferson. Such demand around the league most likely will lead to an attractive offer.
At the same time, there is a delicate balance between present and future. Utah currently is battling for a lower seed in the West. Derrick Favors has also finally started living up to his potential. This development makes cutting ties with Millsap more bearable. He has been a tremendous spark as he is averaging 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in just over 21 minutes per contest. There is no reason to feel production from the power forward position would drastically decrease if he became a starter.
Jefferson is a franchise player, which Utah has not seen since Karl Malone and John Stockton. Millsap is a rugged defender who can also produce on the other end. His refusal of Utah’s three year $26 million deal last summer signifies it is more cost effective to part ways with the only team he has known. Jefferson averages three points more than Millsap. His superior post game and ability to step away from the basket makes him an elite talent. Millsap simply is not as dynamic.