Less than a day until the NBA trade deadline, and one of the most popular names continues to be Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap.
The 28-year-old forward has been linked to numerous teams, due to his $7 million expiring contract and his offensive range. According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, Millsap came up in trade discussions with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and forward Derrick Williams was also brought up in the exchange.
Millsap is currently averaging 15 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, but those are slightly down from his last two stellar seasons. The Jazz have a glut of young talent in their frontcourt, and are instead looking to increase their playing time at the expense of Millsap.
Utah specifically needs help at point guard, with 34-year-old Jamaal Tinsley starting ahead of veterans Earl Watson and Mo Williams on the depth chart.
Like the Jazz frontline, the Minnesota has a plethora of point guards to offer. Earlier Wednesday it was reported by 1500 ESPN Minnesota that the Timberwolves have made point guards Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea available for trades.
Either could help Utah in the short term., with Barea having an extra year valued at $4.5 million more than Ridnour. Still the Jazz only have about $25 million committed to player contracts next season, and could easily take on either player’s deals.
Utah is currently seventh in the Western Conference, and may have remembered how instrumental Barea was for the Dallas Mavericks during their 2011 title run. In 21 games, Barea averaged 17.3 points and 6.6 assists Per 36 minutes, torching the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder, along the Miami Heat in the Finals.
In 122 career games, Williams, the 6-foot-8 No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft, hasn’t panned out the way Minnesota had hoped. Williams his currently netting 9.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, but can’t seem to find his stroke, shooting 41 percent from the field.
However, the Jazz turned Millsap into a top producing forward, and Williams could improve with a change of scenery. Williams is guaranteed one more year at $5.2 million, with a team option of $6.6 million for the 2014-15 season before he hits restricted free agency.
The Timberwolves could pair Millsap with superstar Kevin Love, and assuming they re-sign him this summer, center Nikola Pekovic. Once they hold his rights, Minnesota can offer Millsap more money than any other club this summer. That kind of young frontline, along with point guard Ricky Rubio, has major potential in the West.
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