The Utah Jazz, after an exhilaratingly surprising 10-2 start, have come crashing back to earth, resembling more closely the team pundits expected entering the season. The Jazz have gone 2-9 in their last 11 games, sending them tumbling down the NBA standings, which could, perhaps reinvigorate trade talks that could see veteran pieces be sold off to teams with loftier aspirations of competing for a championship.
One marquee name that’s sure to draw tons of attention on the trade market is Lauri Markkanen, who has taken his game to the next level with the Jazz. Through 23 games, The Finnisher is averaging 22.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game on a career-best 52.8 percent shooting from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc. Markkanen is establishing himself as one of the most dangerous three-level scorers in the NBA, as his combination of size, skill, and shooting makes him so tough to defend.
However, Markkanen is exactly the kind of piece the Jazz would prefer to keep as they try to work their way back atop the league. The 7’0 forward is only 25 years old – squarely in his prime – and Utah will, most certainly, try and nab multiple first-round picks for their prized asset. Lauri Markkanen is signed to a team-friendly deal until 2025 as well, which makes a midseason trade very unlikely.
Nonetheless, the Jazz have plenty of pieces that’s sure to draw considerable interest on the trade market. Kelly Olynyk has played extremely well following an offseason trade from the Detroit Pistons, Mike Conley has remained a steady floor-general even as his scoring output has atrophied, while Jordan Clarkson should be enticing as a microwave option off a contender’s bench.
In addition, the Jazz have young pieces such as Jarred Vanderbilt, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Collin Sexton that could attract plenty of suitors in a potential trade. However, taking into consideration what contending teams need to go along with the price at which a player can be attained, this combo guard could be the first to go in a potential fire sale.
Jazz player who must be traded: Malik Beasley
This is, in no shape or form, an indictment of Malik Beasley’s performances as of late, as he has done an admirable job filling in for more minutes following Mike Conley’s injury. The Jazz have called upon Beasley to provide reliable floor spacing, and by and large, he has delivered. Through 23 games, Beasley is draining 3.3 triples a night on 8.1 attempts – good for an elite 40.3 percent.
Every team in the NBA needs elite shooting, so why should the Jazz dangle the 6’4 guard? The answer is simple: should the Jazz continue to struggle, the front office may end up with the conclusion that a few draft picks could end up being more valuable to the team in the long run than Beasley’s contributions, no matter how solid he has been.
It’s easy to envision Malik Beasley tearing it up off a contender’s bench as he feasts on wide open shots due to all the attention a superstar can attract. Some teams with lofty aspirations that could end up targeting Beasley include the Atlanta Hawks, who are the second-worst three-point shooting team in the league only ahead of the putrid Los Angeles Lakers, and the Miami Heat, who has shot a mere 33.2 percent from three as a team.
Beasley would also have the greenest of lights with the Hawks alongside Trae Young, who drops dimes like he breathes air. The 6’4 guard is tied for third in most catch-and-shoot makes per game with 2.6, and he’s shooting them at an elite 41.5 percent.
In a hypothetical scenario where Malik Beasley gets traded, the Jazz will have young guns Ochai Agbaji and Nickeil Alexander-Walker to absorb minutes. Their development under head coach Will Hardy will definitely be crucial to the Jazz’ rebuilding efforts.
At the end of the day, if the Jazz decide to sell off Beasley, they will surely end up adding a considerable amount of assets to the treasure trove of draft picks they’ve already amassed thanks to the Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell trades.