Contender #5 that could make a move for Eric Gordon: Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz have been one of the best teams in the league the past two seasons, but they’ve struggled to translate their regular-season success into deep playoff runs. As a double-digit favorite, they lost to the Rockets, and a large part of that was Gordon’s 16 points on 6-10 shooting and 3-4 from 3-point range.
The Jazz don’t necessarily need Gordon, they have the league’s number one ranked offense and its 11th ranked defense, but adding more firepower isn’t going to hurt. If they decide that a defensive specialist is their top priority, they may not have the chips to get both.
Gordon doesn’t fill a pressing need for the Jazz, but he’s shooting 45.5% from 3-point range, and they take the highest percentage of their shots from beyond the arc. Bringing Gordon into the fold would allow the Jazz to surround Rudy Gobert rim-runs with four-plus 3-point shooters.
The gap in offensive rating between the Jazz in first and the Hawks in second is the same as the gap between the Hawks and the Golden State Warriors in 12th. Gordon could make the Jazz’s offense historic, and historic is a good way to win championships.
The Jazz owe two picks, one to the Grizzlies, likely to convey this season, and one to the Oklahoma City Thunder, likely to convey in 2024. Giving up another first-round pick may sting, but it’s the type of decision all title contenders need to make.
Matching salaries will be the most difficult part for the two sides. Almost every trade would have to include reigning sixth man of the year, Jordan Clarkson, and his $12.4 million deal. This raises the question, is Eric Gordon a significant upgrade over Clarkson?
It’s tough to say who is better, but they do offer different skillsets. Clarkson is an incredible isolation shot creator and is a better mid-range finisher than Gordon. Gordon is better at getting to the rim and hitting threes.
Does Utah want the player with the more analytically inclined shot chart that mirrors much of their current roster, or do they believe that Clarkson’s mid-range game gives their offense something it would otherwise lack?
If the Jazz are okay moving Clarkson for Gordon, they’d only need to include about $2 million more to finalize the trade. It would be a risk, but Gordon probably fits better next to the Jazz’s starters, which come playoff time, when rotations shrink, could prove pivotal.
Look out for Part 2 with contender #4