Three Utah jazz players left in the dust from offseason tectonic maneuvers
The Utah Jazz are fielding several players who may not have a legitimate opportunity. Jazz executive Danny Ainge seems content with a complete dismantling and rebuilding of the team.
Utah has had more than one roller coaster ride of an offseason. The massive moves included trading Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell away from the Jazz organization.
When traded players are busy adjusting to a brand new setting and acclimating to a new NBA life, former teammates can be rewarded with the opportunity to fill the void created by their departure. But a full rebuild may also omit some remaining players from the revised plan.
Multiple sources and media have reported that additional moves are in the works for Jazz’s current roster. Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson seemed destined to be traded, not part of the new Jazz movement.
But here are several Jazz players who may not have the opportunity to succeed in Jazz’s new system due to the nature of NBA business.
Nickeil Alexander Walker
Jazz Nation may not know Alexander-Walker, but he’s a solid NBA player. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 205 pounds, he has the versatility to play point guard, shooter, and small forward.
The current NBA deals with what is called “positionless” basketball, which means that a player can effectively compete against any competitor. Alexander-Walker can be defined as a “positionless” player, is currently 24 years old and was the 17th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
You’d think Alexander-Walker’s resume is designed to join a rebuilding franchise, but does he fit into Ainge’s plan? Jazz’s recent trades would say no, but we’ll have to watch how Ainge maneuvers into what remains of the 2022 offseason before confidently projecting what opportunities await Alexander-Walker.
Utah drafted Butler in the first round in 2021. The Jazz currently retain Mike Conley, recently signed Collin Sexton for an extension and got several other players via trade who all play point guard.
Butler plays point guard and could play a shooting guard, but he’s not associated with Ainge’s new move. Was Butler’s chance to flourish eliminated before he seized a legitimate opportunity? Time will tell us.
Jazz Nation will also know Azubuike as their 2020 first-round pick. When playing behind Gobert, opportunities will be limited and minutes played will be scarce.
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Gobert no longer wears the Jazz uniform, but extra centers and “potion-free” power forwards have made their way to the roster via trades from Ainge. Most notable is Walker Kessler, also a 2022 first-round pick. Other Jazz players lined up may complete the disappearance of a real opportunity for Azubuike to succeed in this system.
Every NBA leader has a particular philosophy on how to become an NBA champion. Players are sometimes part of a transition that may or may not welcome them.
As far as the Jazz are concerned, there should be a more functional program to move towards the success of the team. NBA staff will say player movement is part of the business, but working together to create a friendly environment is paramount.
The hope is that young players left in the dust of Utah’s offseason tectonic maneuverings will receive fair consideration and not be given opportunities that pass them by due to factors beyond their control. With plenty of corporate moves through Utah, let’s hope for a quick and winning recovery.
Follow Jack on Twitter @jlewNBA.