The Utah Jazz have managed to remain competitive while collecting assets over the last three years.
They also signed and acquired a few veteran players this summer to help balance the roster between young players and experienced veterans.
However, there is a problem looming in the near future for the Jazz. The team will soon have some tough decisions to make.
The first situation is next summer, when their star forward Gordon Hayward has the option to opt out of his deal to explore free agency. He’s expected to do so and will likely demand max money. Hayward will of course still evaluate if the Jazz has improved enough to remain on the team if he wants to win now.
Then the summer of 2018 will bring both Rodney Hood and Dante Exum into restricted free agency, which could possibly become a complicated situation, especially if the market dictates more money than the Jazz originally planned for.
Currently the Jazz are $12 million under the salary cap. While the league’s cap will go higher next season, Utah will push for early extensions of players such as Derrick Favors because they will all demand max money eventually.
The Jazz’s endgame is to stay under the salary cap, and that has always been their model until this time. Decision time will bring the organization to either pay more money sooner rather than later or lose some important pieces. If the latter happens, the team will take another step backwards before they can move forward again.
The Jazz made moves now to improve immediately and to position themselves for a trip to the playoffs this year. If the team doesn’t qualify for the postseason, the choice will be made for them. Utah may soon have to abandon the financial model they currently work under if they want to have any success.