This situation could prove to be the take of the fanchise for the Jazz, especially if they are the reigning Champions in 2009 and 2010
Currently the Knicks are sucking it up, and could very easily be very similar then as now.
The Utah Jazz and NBA by Ross Siler and Steve Luhm
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The No. 1 question I've been e-mailed since the start of the season is: Please explain the future first-round pick the Jazz have from the Knicks. I've written back some of you and we'll have a story in Wednesday's paper (with the Knicks coming to town) explaining it all.
The short answer is that the Jazz got the pick in 2004 from Phoenix in the memorable Tom Gugliotta/Keon Clark/Ben Handlogten trade. The Jazz have been coy about the exact protections on the pick but two league sources confirmed the specifics.
The pick was to be conveyed no earlier than 2006 and was protected through the first 25 picks. It was protected through the first 24 picks in 2007, the first 23 picks in 2008 and first 22 picks in 2009. It is unprotected in 2010, which is why everyone is so intrigued.
If the Knicks wind up in the lottery that season and land the No. 1 overall pick, it's coming to the Jazz. Having a little fun with the story, we prepared a list of the top 5 high school juniors who likely would be the top picks in the 2010 NBA Draft.
There's a couple of things I couldn't get into the story that I wanted to note here. The first is that the Jazz are hoping to time the first-round pick they gave up to Philadelphia in the Kyle Korver trade for 2010, when they expect to have the Knicks pick.
I don't have the specific protections on that pick, but the Jazz have said they won't be giving up a lottery pick. Given that the Jazz could have a top 5 pick from the Knicks, it made sense to give up what likely would be a low first-round pick to the Sixers.
There also was a sense from the people that I talked to for the story that the Knicks at best badly blundered in how they protected the pick and at worse were taken advantage of. The pick originally went to Phoenix as part of the Stephon Marbury deal.
Most teams have a sliding scale where they protect picks in the top 25 one year, the top 20 the next, the top 15 after that and so on. The Knicks reduced the protection on the pick by one spot each year. The NBA also prevents you from indefinitely protecting a pick.
The general manager I talked with for the story questioned why the Knicks didn't opt to swap the unprotected first-round pick for a second-round pick plus a couple million in cash.
You're allowed to do that and it keeps you from giving up anything better than a late first-round pick unless you have to/want to. As the GM said: "Picks are your best insurance policy on a bad season."
There also was disagreement about what course the Knicks would take between now and 2010. The Jazz believe they won't continue spending themselves into oblivion, but that they will re-sign young players like David Lee and Nate Robinson.
From their current roster, Zach Randolph, Eddy Curry, Quentin Richardson, Jamal Crawford, Jerome James and Jared Jeffries all are signed through the 2009-10 season, almost all of them to bloated contracts that would be difficult to trade.
If Thomas is eventually fired, which many regard as an inevitability, the Knicks next general manager could opt to cut payroll and take advantage of all those expiring contracts for the summer of 2010, when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both could be free agents.
If that happens, the Jazz could hit the jackpot. The Knicks could suffer through an abysmal season in the hopes of landing a big-name free agent that summer. That would put the Jazz in the best position for a high lottery pick.