- The Utah Jazz are expected to retain the services of free agent PG Mike Conley Jr.
- There is strong belief that the Jazz will be able to unload salaries to give Conley a substantial offer.
- Utah is tied with the Golden State Warriors for the 4th shortest odds to win the 2022 NBA championship.
Good news for Utah Jazz fans. Mike Conley is expected to return to the Jazz next season. However, he won’t be back without a price to pay.
According to multiple sources, there is a strong belief around the league that the Jazz will be able to shed salary in order to give Conley a substantial offer.
Conley will be an unrestricted free agent on August 1st and he is expected to garner interest from other contenders who need backcourt help. With competition, the cash-strapped Jazz need to make moves to be able to retain Conley.
— Kyle Cohen (@kylecohenNBA) July 27, 2021
One of the big issues regarding the Mike Conley situation is Utah already owing $130 million in guaranteed salaries for nine players next season. Conley earned $34.5 million last season and even if he were to take a significant pay cut , perhaps a $20 million per year deal, that would still push the Jazz into the luxury tax.
Utah has a new owner in Ryan Smith and while he is a lifelong die-hard Jazz fan, nobody knows if he’s willing to spend for the luxury tax. If he is, then there’s no problem here but if he isn’t, then the Jazz will have to either let Conley go or cut costs somewhere else. The latter is the likely path for the team,
The problem there however is that almost all of the guaranteed contracts on the team are of rotation players who had a productive 2020-21 season. If the Jazz want to run things back, that is going to be a tough balancing act financially. But there are rumors that the Jazz may be willing to part with either Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles or Derrick Favors to cut overhead costs.
A widely spread story is that Utah is trying to package the 30th overall pick of Thursday’s draft and Favors in a cost-cutting deal. Favors however is due just $20M for two seasons so while that helps, the Jazz still need more cap space to be able to give Conley the deal that he deserves.
Jazz Championship Odds
2022 NBA Championship odds, from @BetMGM:
◽️ Brooklyn Nets: +225
◽️ Los Angeles Lakers: +450
◽️ Milwaukee Bucks: +800
◽️ Golden State Warriors: +1200
◽️ Utah Jazz: +1200
◽️ Phoenix Suns: +1400 pic.twitter.com/PDXogma0i9
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) July 21, 2021
Utah is coming off a breakout regular season where they finished with the best record in the NBA a7 52-20. Their .722 winning percentage was the highest for the franchise since the 1998-99 season when Karl Malone was MVP. Nikola Jokic of Denver was the 2021 MVP but the Jazz bagged two other individual performance awards: Rudy Gobert as Defensive Player of the Year and Jordan Clarkson as Sixth Man of the Year.
Given that the Jazz have a terrific offense behind Donovan Mitchell that ranked 4th in the league in scoring, they also have a fantastic defense led by Gobert and they also have a reliable bench led by Clarkson. With so much versatility, there’s no question Utah is one of the top teams to watch next season.
According to the best NBA betting sites, Utah is among the Top 5 title favorites to win the 2022 NBA championship. BetMGM has then tied with the Golden State Warriors for the 4th best odds to win the Larry O’Brien trophy at +1200. Only the Brooklyn Nets (+225), Los Angeles Lakers (+450), and Milwaukee Bucks (+800) have shorter odds than them.
Although the Jazz found plenty of success even with Conley sidelined, they are going to need Conley’s veteran presence, scoring, and playmaking if they are to go deep in the postseason. The challenge now is how to keep Conley in their fold considering their financial constraints.