Earlier this afternoon, the Utah Jazz acquired sharpshooting big man Steve Novak in a trade with the Toronto Raptors. The Jazz, who are sending point guard Diante Garrett to Toronto, will also receive a future second-round pick in the deal.
The move clears out some minutes at the guard spot for Dante Exum, Alec Burks and Trey Burke and gives Utah the stretch forward the team had been seeking in free agency. It probably signals that coach Quin Snyder is willing to start Enes Kanter and play him together with Derrick Favors as well. In previous NBA seasons, fans in Salt Lake City clamored for the team to give them that frontcourt combination, but when they finally got their wish last season, the two struggled to mesh together on the floor.
Having used a valuable top three draft pick on Kanter, as well as giving Favors a contract extension last offseason, it’s probably in the team’s best interest to allow the pairing a fair chance to succeed. For his part, Novak probably won’t be taking a lot of minutes from the duo, but when he finds his way onto the floor, it should open up the paint when one of them is on the court with him. Over the course of his career, Novak has connected on over 43 percent of his three-point attempts. Not since Mehmet Okur has the Jazz had a player at 6-foot-10 who could connect from deep at such a consistent clip.
This deal probably makes it less likely that Marvin Williams returns to the team. It’s conceivable that he could still come in and play more minutes at the small forward position than he has over the last two years, but in all likelihood, he’ll land with one of the contending teams or a club that can offer him a starting position and major minutes. Williams has been a steadying influence and a consummate professional with the Jazz since they acquired him, but if a shift to Novak means a greater chance for Kanter to develop, it’s a solid move for Utah. Additionally, Novak’s contract is probably more friendly than what Williams would demand as well at two years and right around $7 million.
It’s probably not a deal that adds many wins for the Jazz, but if the goal was to add a big to stretch the floor in a back-up role, give more minutes to Kanter and also to draw closer to the salary minimum for next season, it’s mission accomplished for GM Dennis Lindsey and the Jazz.