Mark Wahlen is a co-founder & contributor to The Five By 5.
Photo Credit: Taylor Griffin (@griffdunk on Twitter)
The Meat & Potatoes:
At the NBA trade deadline, the Utah Jazz parted ways with Rodney Hood, Joe Johnson (who was traded to the Kings before being waived) and roughly $1 million dollars in a 3-team deal that landed the Jazz Jae Crowder, former MVP Derrick Rose (who they waived) and the rights to swap 2nd round picks in 2024 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Let’s take a look at Rodney, Joe and Jae’s stats and contract details to get a better understanding of the “meat & potatoes” of this trade.
Rodney Hood was averaging: 27.8 MPG, 42% FG% (14.2 FGA), 39% 3P% (6.7 3PA), 46% 2P% (7.4 2PA), 88% FT% (2.5 FTA), 2.8 TRB, 1.7 APG, 0.8 STL, 0.2 BLK, 1.6 TO’s and 16.8 PPG for the Jazz this season in 39 games. Looking at Rodney’s advanced stats for the Jazz this season, Rodney Hood was sporting a 103.9 offensive rating, 107.2 defensive rating (-3.3 net rating) with a 27.9% usage rate. Rodney is in the final year of his rookie contract (currently making $2,386,864 dollars for the 17-18 season) and will become a restricted free agent this off-season.
Joe Johnson was averaging: 21.9 MPG, 42% FG% (7.1 FGA), 27% 3P% (2.6 3PA), 51% 2P% (4.4 2PA), 83% FT% (0.8 FTA), 3.3 TRB, 1.4 AST, 0.4 STL, 0.2 BLK, 1 TO’s and 7.3 PPG for the Jazz this season in 32 games. Looking at Joe’s advanced stats for the Jazz this season, he had a 99.1 offensive rating, 106.8 defensive rating (-7.7 net rating) with a 17.4% usage rate. Joe Johnson was in the last year of his contract before being waived by the Kings. He’s since cleared waivers and has signed with the Houston Rockets for a currently undisclosed amount.
Jae Crowder was averaging: 25.4 MPG, 42% FG% (7.1 FGA), 33% 3P% (3.6 3PA), 51% 2P% (3.5 2PA), 85% FT% (1.7 FTA), 3.3 TRB, 1.1 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.2 BLK, 0.8 TO’s and 8.6 PPG for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season in 47 games. Looking at Jae’s advanced stats for the Cavs this season, he had a 108.8 offensive rating and a 113.1 defensive rating (-4.2 net rating) with a 15.2% usage rate. Jae is currently under contract for the remainder of the 17-18 season and for the next two seasons (18-19 and 19-20) before becoming an unrestricted free agent following the 19-20 season. He’s making $6,796,117 this season, $7,305,825 for the 18-19 season and $7,815,533 for the 19-20 season.
The “Now” Implications for the Jazz:
So, how does this trade impact the Jazz right now? Let’s talk lineup data.
The Utah Jazz only have four 5-man lineups that have played more than 100+ minutes together so far this season. Only 4 of those with 100+ total minutes together included either Hood or Johnson, (of which, that lineup only included Rodney Hood). Additionally, that lineup wasn’t an effective lineup, as it had a net rating of -10.4. That makes it the worst 5-man lineup out of the 4 that had played 100+ minutes together this season by a wide margin (next closest was -2.2). In fact, there was only one 5-man lineup for the Jazz this season that included either of Rodney Hood or Joe Johnson that had a positive net rating and played more than 60 minutes together. That lineup (Mitchell, Hood, Ingles, Johnson and Favors) had a net rating of +8.2, but only played 68 total minutes together.
Only two of the top 50 most used 3-man lineups for the Jazz this season that included, either Rodney Hood or Joe Johnson, had positive net ratings. Only three of the top 15 most used 3-man lineups included either of them (those lineups only included Rodney Hood) and only one of them had a positive net rating (+1.6). The other 2 had the worst net ratings out of the top 15 (-4.9 and -10.9).
The primary takeaway is that neither of Hood or Johnson were major parts of the Jazz’s most used or successful lineups this season.
Combine this lineup data with Hoods’ overall net rating of -3.3 and Johnsons’ -7.7 for the season and it’s easy to see that neither of them were helping the Jazz much. In fact, it’s clear that both of them were major reasons for the Jazz’s struggles this year. It’s entirely possible that the mere subtraction of Hood and Johnsons’ negative impacts could improve the Jazz, particularly the subtraction of Rodney Hood, who played a significantly larger role than Johnson. It’s not an accident that in the 16 games that Rodney Hood didn’t play for the Jazz this season, they went 11-5 (69% win percentage).
But things aren’t as simple as subtracting Hood and Johnsons’ negative impact. There’s still the matter of who’s going to take their minutes and what their impact will have on the team. So, who will take Hood and Johnsons’ minutes, and how will that impact the Jazz?
Let’s start with Rodney Hood’s minutes.
Let’s assume that Alec Burks and Royce O’Neale will take the majority of Hood’s minutes (this is a safe assumption since they’re who took the majority of Hood’s minutes when he missed games this year). Looking at Royce O’Neale this season, he’s sporting an offensive rating of 110.7 and a defensive rating of 99.3, which is good for a net rating of +11.4. Compare that to Hoods’ net rating of -3.3 this season, and that’s a +14.7 net improvement for the Jazz if O’Neale takes all of Hood’s minutes. Alec Burks hasn’t been as good as O’Neale so far this season, as he’s sporting an offensive rating of 109 and a defensive rating of 106.3 (+2.7 net rating). However, that’d still be a +6 net improvement over Rodney Hoods’ -3.3 assuming Burks took all of Hood’s minutes.
Now, the reality is that both of O’Neale and Burks will take some of Hoods’ minutes with neither of them taking all his minutes, but either way, they’ll both be a big improvement over what Hood was providing in whatever amount of minutes they end up taking. However, it should be noted that despite the overall positive impact that O’Neale and Burks should have in taking Hoods’ minutes, neither of them provide the 3 point shooting that Hood did. Rodney was taking 6.7 3-point shots per game while shooting 39%. O’Neale has only been taking 1.7 3’s per game while shooting 39%, and Burks has been taking 2.5 per game while only shooting 32.8%. Additionally, Hood had an overall usage rate of 28%. Compare that to 16.7% for O’Neale and 23.5% for Burks, and it’s clear that either or both of Burks and O’Neale will need to step up their game to fulfill a larger role than they had been playing previously within the Jazz’s offense. As both Burks and O’Neale take on a larger role to fill the void that Hood has left, particularly in shooting more 3’s, we’ll see if their net positive impact remains.
Lastly, there’s something to be said for consistency, and with how often Rodney Hood missed games due to injury, it was hard for the Jazz to find a consistent groove. If O’Neale and Burks can provide more consistent availability to Utah’s rotations, it may also contribute positively. Not to mention Hood’s inconsistent production when he did play. Likewise, if the combination of O’Neale and Burks can produce more consistently than Hood, it will go a long ways to helping the Jazz win more games.
Now let’s take a look at Joe Johnson’s minutes.
Johnson was playing 22 minutes per game this season for the Jazz, and the expectation is that the entirety of those minutes will be filled by Jae Crowder. It’s hard to say how Crowder will fit into the Jazz’s system since his role and contributions in Utah are likely to be much different than they were in Cleveland, but even if we take what Crowder had been doing in Cleveland, we can see that he’ll be an improvement over what Johnson was providing the Jazz. Just looking at net rating, Crowder this season has a net rating of -4.2 (108.8 offensive rating and 113.1 defensive rating). Compare that to Joe Johnsons’ -7.7 net rating and that’s a +3.5 improvement. Despite Crowder’s’ net rating still being negative, it’s a drastic improvement over what the Jazz have been getting from Johnson. It should also be noted that this has been a very down year for Jae Crowder. His -4.2 net rating is the worst of his entire career by a large margin (next closest was +0.7 in his rookie year). Crowders’ average career net rating prior to this year has been a +5.6, and his average net rating in the 2 seasons that he played in Boston is +6.2. If the Jazz can help Crowder get back on track and contribute positive value equal to his career average net rating (minus this year), he’d provide the Jazz with a +13.3 improvement over what Johnson was giving the Jazz this season.
But let’s forget about net rating for a minute and talk about how the Jazz will replace Johnsons’ 3 point shooting as a stretch 4. That was one of the most important things that Johnson gave the Jazz over the last couple seasons: his ability to space the floor as a stretch 4 next to Gobert or Favors. So far this season, Johnson was shooting 2.6 3’s per game at 27.4%, whereas Jae Crowder has been shooting 3.6 3’s per game at 33%. Replacing Johnson with Crowder gives the Jazz a +5.6% increase in 3 point shooting from the 4 spot on just as many attempts per game. So while not a huge improvement, Crowder will be a slight improvement over Johnson as a 3 point shooting stretch 4.
Admittedly, this is probably over simplifying the impact that Jae Crowder will have the Jazz as he’ll likely cut into other player’s minutes (Ingles, Jerebko, etc.) in addition to taking all of Joe Johnsons’ minutes, but until we see the new rotations, it’s hard to dig into that aspect of his impact on the Jazz. That we’ll be something to keep an eye on as Quin Snyder tweaks his rotations for the remainder of the season.
Overall, it appears that with this trade, the Jazz have significantly improved their team on the court this year. But it’s also probably fair to say that the team has improved the locker chemistry too. There had been reports leading up to the trade deadline that Rodney Hood was frustrated by being moved to the bench this season and that he wasn’t interested in continuing his relationship with the Jazz past this season. Similarly with Joe Johnson, it was reported that he was no longer interested in staying in Utah, as he wanted to go compete for a championship. And that’s not to say that Joe wasn’t a great veteran to have around the team, but he was ready to move and was clearly not as engaged as he was last season. Moving those two guys who didn’t want to be in Utah anyway could’ve only improved an already strong locker room.
The Future Implications:
But how does this trade affect the Jazz’s future?
Losing Rodney Hood, who appeared to have the potential of being a long-term core piece, is tough. Rodney, being only 25 years old, fit perfectly into the timelines of the Jazz’s two main core pieces of Donovan Mitchell (21 years old) and Rudy Gobert (25 years old). But Jae Crowder is only 27 (same age as Hayward), so he fits well within Mitchell and Gobert’s timelines too.
Additionally, Crowder fills a position of greater need for the Jazz than Rodney Hood did. With the revelation of Donovan Mitchell, Hood had been moved to the bench, and with the Jazz already having Rubio (27 years old), O’Neale (24 years old) and Exum (22 years old) appearing to be the future guards and wings for the Jazz, Hood became more of a luxury than a need, especially with Burks and Ingles on the roster (Ingles being on a long-term contract). On the other hand, the Jazz needed a long-term piece that could play as a stretch 4 next to Gobert, and that’s exactly what Jae Crowder can do for them. Sure, the Jazz still have Derrick Favors and Jonas Jerebko on the roster, but neither are expected to be long-term answers for the Jazz at the 4 spot.
Crowder is also on a very friendly contract this season, and for the next two seasons, whereas Hood was about to receive a big payday in free agency. Even with the limited free agent market this off-season, it’s safe to assume that Hood will receive an offer comparable to other wings of his talent, such as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Evan Fournier. KCP only signed a 1-year deal with the Lakers this last off-season, but that was for $17,745,895. That’s essentially the same amount that Evan Fournier is making at $17,000,000 per year. Is Hood worth that much? And even if Hood takes $5 million less per year due to the limited market, he’d still be making roughly $12 million per year. Even with that discount, that’s nearly double the amount per year that Crowder will make for the next 2 seasons ($7.2 million next season and $7.8 million in 19-20). And this isn’t even considering the fact that Rodney wanted to leave the Jazz after this season.
To better illustrate the future financial implications of this deal, let’s look at some hypothetical situations that the Jazz might’ve found themselves facing had they kept Rodney and not traded for Crowder.
In this first hypothetical situation, let’s say that Rodney finds a fairly limited market this offseason and settles for a 3-year, $36 million dollar deal ($12 million per year) that’s offered to him by another team. At that point, the Jazz would need to decide whether or not to match the offer (they’d be allowed to do this since Rodney will be a restricted free agent this offseason). If the Jazz decided to match that offer for Hood, even at the discounted $12 million per year, they would’ve been paying an additional $20.7 million dollars (roughly $4.5 million extra per year for the next two seasons) than they’ll be paying Crowder (and they’d only get one additional year of security with Hood’s contract compared to Crowders for their troubles).
Another hypothetical situation the Jazz might’ve faced: Hood only signs a 1-year deal with the Jazz because his market completely dries up this offseason, but he doesn’t want to take a long-term discounted contract. In this hypothetical, Rodney would only be under contract for 1 more year (likely at a high price) before becoming an unrestricted free agent next offseason. And in the next offseason, there are more teams with more money, and it’s likely that Rodney would leave as a free agent without the Jazz receiving any value in return.
One more hypothetical: Hood gets offered a long-term and lucrative contract (3+ years at $17+ million per year). In this situation, The Jazz would’ve been deciding between keeping Hood on a bad contract or losing him for nothing by not matching the offer. Neither of those would’ve been good options for the Jazz, especially considering if the Jazz matched, they’d be paying Hood $17+ million a year to come off the bench.
Additionally, with all of these hypothetical situations, had the Jazz chosen to keep Rodney, they would’ve been dealing with the drama of bringing back a player that didn’t want to be here. Would that have been worth the trouble for the Jazz?
It seems like having Crowder, who fills a greater positional need both now and moving forward, and comes at a cheaper cost (of at least $4.5 million each of the next two seasons even if Hood takes a discount) is clearly the better option for the Jazz moving forward.
Just to put into perspective how great of a contract Crowder is on, here’s some other players that are comparable to Crowder at his position at how much they’re making each year on their current contracts: DeMarre Carroll ($14.8 million per year), Marvin Williams ($13.2 million per year), Thaddeus Young ($15.0 million per year), James Johnson ($13.7 million per year), Markieff Morris ($8.0 million per year), Nikola Mirotic ($12.5 million per year) and Mo Harkless ($10.2 million per year).
It’s impossible to say for certain how these types of moves will turn out for a team. But to me, it’s seems like the Jazz made a really smart trade that will make them better now and in the future, both on and off the court.
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