It wasn’t until 1974 that the Utah Jazz made its debut in the NBA. They may be a relatively younger franchise as opposed to their more tenured counterparts in the league, but the Jazz still have a rich history to their name.
Through the years, this team has been involved in a number of memorable trade deals that have helped them inch closer towards their goals. Below are what we deemed to have been the best five trades in the history of the Utah Jazz franchise.
5. Al Jefferson (2010)
Traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kosta Koufos and two future first-round picks.
In the summer of 2010, the Jazz were coming off four consecutive disappointing playoff exits. A premier big man appeared to be the missing piece, and they turned to 6-foot-10 center Al Jefferson, trading for him him from Minnesota Timberwolves.
While that plan did not exactly come to fruition (the Jazz managed just one short-lived postseason run in his three years with the team), Jefferson still established himself as one of the best big men in the league during his time in Utah. In three seasons, the Monticello, Mississippi native averaged 18.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.6 blocks per contest.
4. Jeff Hornacek (1994)
Traded from the Philadelphia 76ers with Sean Green and a future second-round pick for Jeff Malone and a first-round pick.
When talking about the 90’s era of Jazz basketball, the first two names that come to mind are undeniably that of Karl Malone and John Stockton. However, one key cog during that era is 6-foot-3 guard Jeff Hornacek.
The Jazz acquired the services of Hornacek in 1994, and he came at quite a price. Jeff Malone was an outstanding player for Utah, and they even had to throw in a first-round pick in the deal. Nonetheless, it was worth it.
Hornacek proved to be an important piece for the Jazz, as they went to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in ’97 and ’98. A one-time All-Star, Hornacek posted career averages of 14.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.3 steals in seven seasons in Utah.
3. Gordon Hayward (2004)
Traded from the Phoenix Suns as a future first-round draft pick with Tom Gugliotta, a first-round pick, and a future second-round draft pick for Keon Clark and Ben Handlogten.
Gordon Hayward emerged as one of Utah’s best player in the 2010’s. This culminated in an All-Star appearance for the 6-foot-7 forward in 2017, in what turned out to be his final season with the team.
Aside from the fact that Hayward turned out to be a great player, what makes this deal stand out is the fact that the Jazz gave up close to nothing to acquire this pick. Hayward wasn’t drafted until 2010 (ninth overall), and this deal went down some six years earlier.
The Jazz gave up two players that did not have much value for the team in exchange for quite a haul. However, it wasn’t until six season later that the deal turned out to be one of the best trades ever for Utah.
In seven seasons with the Jazz, Hayward posted averages of 15.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. He helped the team to three postseason appearances during his tenure.
2. Deron Williams (2005)
Traded from the Portland Trail Blazers as a first-round pick for two first-round picks and a future first-round pick.
John Stockton is easily the greatest point guard in Jazz franchise history. For his part, Deron Williams should not rank too far below Stockton. The 6-foot-3 guard spent six productive seasons in Utah, which all started in 2005 when the Jazz selected him third overall in the draft.
Utah saw the potential in Williams early on, and they did everything they could to bring him on board. They moved up in the 2005 draft by pulling the trigger on a two-for-one exchange, giving up the two first-round picks they had in their possession in order to acquire the rights to draft Williams at the third spot.
This turned out to be a great decision for the front office, with Williams emerging as one of the best point guards in the league not long after the Jazz drafted him. The former Illinois standout was a key piece for Utah’s postseason exploits during the late 2000’s, and he earned himself two All-Star nods during his stint with the Jazz.
1. Adrian Dantley (1979)
Traded from the Los Angeles Lakers for Spencer Haywood.
The best deal Utah ever pulled off has got to be the Adrian Dantley trade in 1979. This is the the most straightforward deal in our entire list today, with the Jazz executing a one-for-one trade to get their hands on Dantley. In the process, they had to part ways with Spence Haywood, who despite his brief tenure with the Jazz, was himself a great player. However, what Utah got in return was much more than they bargained for.
Dantley spent a total of sevens seasons with the Jazz, making the All-Star team on all but one occasion. He led the team to their first ever playoffs appearance in 1984, which was followed by two more consecutive postseason trips the next two seasons. The 6-foot-5 swingman was an outstanding scorer — definitely one of the greatest in Jazz history — leading the league in this category in two separate seasons while with the Jazz.
For all his contributions for the game of basketball, Dantley was enshrined to the esteemed Hall of Fame in 2008.