Earlier this week the Utah Jazz officially signed free agent Trevor Booker away from the Washington Wizards — a deal that was first reported on July 15. The two-year deal worth $10 million potentially — more on that later — gives the Jazz depth at the power forward position, where Booker will likely back up Enes Kanter. However, looking at this signing, it’s somewhat of a head-scratcher when considering the Jazz’s other free agent options.
While there was no way the Jazz were going to get a marquee name from this free agent class like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, Utah did have the opportunity to keep one of its own free agents in Marvin Williams. The former No. 2 pick of the 2005 NBA Draft, who expressed great interest in staying with the Jazz, didn’t get the offer he was seeking from Jazz brass and subsequently signed with the Charlotte Hornets late last week for a reported two-year deal worth $14 million.
For the Jazz, re-signing Williams would seem to make more sense than seeking Booker’s services and here’s why.
First, the new offense that the Jazz are implementing under Quin Snyder appears to fit Williams’ game more than Booker’s. At 6-foot-9, 230 pounds, Williams plays a stretch-four position that could go well under Snyder’s regime. Williams can knock down three-pointers and create space on the floor, which Snyder has talked about doing. Booker, on the other hand, has made one three-pointer in his entire career and is more of a mid-range, under-the-basket type player. What’s more disconcerting is that Booker at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds is an undersized power forward height-wise and is unable to play either forward position unlike Williams.
Secondly, there’s been talk with the Booker signing that he’ll be looked to as a veteran on this young team being one of the older players. Still, at 26 and only having played four years in the league, can he really be relied on to provide that leadership? Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, while both are younger than Booker, have also been in the league for four years and each have played in more games than Booker, giving them just as much so-called “veteran leadership.” If the Jazz truly wanted a veteran on this team, again re-signing Williams would make much more sense as he just finished his ninth season in the NBA.
Lastly, there is the issue of money. Supposedly, Williams wanted a multi-year contract and the Jazz were hesitant to give the 28-year-old such a deal with several young assets to re-sign in the near future. However, if the Jazz could have signed the same deal he got from the Hornets, why didn’t the Jazz do it? It seems like an extra $2 million a year wouldn’t be a huge burden for a more versatile and proven player. Then again, looking at the structure of the Booker deal the Jazz clearly aren’t sold on their new power forward.
Booker will be guaranteed $5 million this year and $225,000 next year with the potential of making the remainder if the Jazz want to keep his services for another year. This contract is clearly more flexible to fit the needs of the Jazz’s future — especially as Utah looks to potentially re-sign Alec Burks and Kanter — than it would have been guaranteeing a multiple-year deal to Williams.
Still, it will be interesting to see how Booker fits in Snyder’s scheme this upcoming year, and Jazz fans will just have to sit and wonder if Williams would have been a better fit.