This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
We've heard it a thousand times: Dennis Lindsey doesn't want to skip steps. He has no problem with stepping stones.
That's what he bought on Wednesday, the day before the draft, with the reward that was gained via the disappointment of another non-playoff season. With the 12th pick in the NBA draft, the Utah Jazz officially took Taurean Prince (for Atlanta), actually purchasing George Jesse Hill, Jr., from the Indiana Pacers, placing a 30-year-old veteran squarely in their backcourt.
And it's OK.
Nothing flashy. Nothing dramatic or dynamic. Nothing that will turbo-blast the Jazz upward.
It does, however, make them a more likely playoff team for one year and maybe more.
Hill is a decent enough player, an eight-year pro who learned his NBA basketball in San Antonio and Indiana, playing in 75 postseason games, before landing in Utah. Over his career, he's averaged 11.3 points, 3.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game. He's hit 45 percent of his shots, 38 percent from the arc. And he's a fine defender.
Is that better than what the Jazz would have gotten had they swung away with their own pick at 12? For next season, it is. After that, all bets are off. All bets might be off anyway, considering Hill has one year left on his current deal.
Anyone concerned about the meaning behind the meaning of acquiring Hill as it pertains to Dante Exum's projected role with the team, don't be.
Hill plays point guard, but he also plays shooting guard. At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, with a long reach, he's capable of playing the wing. Which is to say, he's a versatile player who isn't boxed into the same position as Exum.
Some have wondered why the Jazz, in their three-team deal, essentially sent their lottery pick to Atlanta, so the Hawks could send Jeff Teague to the Pacers and Indy could send Hill to Utah. They've wondered why the Jazz didn't trade directly with the Hawks for Teague. All the details aren't available, but Teague is a pure point guard. That might have been a swap that would have interfered with Exum's opportunity. Hill's combo-pack of skills does not.
Now, the Jazz have another multiple-role weapon from the perimeter, one they can utilize as a bench player, one that can fill in when others are having an off night or taking a night off, one that can insure against injury, one they can pair with Exum on the floor, one that will blend in. Hill's presence will benefit the 20-year-old, not hamper him.
The trade did take the thunder out of Thursday night, though.
For all the trumped-up talk about the value of the second-rounders, none of that tosses much fuel on the fire. There likely is no Paul Millsap in this pool, but nobody knows, yet. Not even the Jazz themselves. It's a total crapshoot, with nothing lost.
The only intrigue, then, was whether the Jazz would get back in the back end of the first round by way of another trade. That did not occur.
For all the guessing about whether the Jazz would package Gordon Hayward or Derrick Favors with other assets for a blockbuster deal, that was all pretty much called off a day early, too. Lindsey essentially said Hayward was not being made available for trade. Translation: The Jazz didn't get an offer they liked enough to "make him available" for a trade.
Which is to say, unless a player is named LeBron or Steph or Durant, everybody is available for a trade if the deal is legit. Since that wasn't the case here, the only thing left to do was protect a player's value by saying he is not available. Otherwise, that value is compromised, and chances of any deal happening moving ahead fall below what they originally were.
No offense, Gordon. But you are always available … for the right price.
That kind of deal, properly executed, wouldn't just be skipping steps, or laying steppingstones, it potentially, if the return was strong enough, would have been hyper-driving the Jazz toward an early prize. It didn't happen. At least, it hasn't happened yet.
So, other than those fat-chance second-round selections, which against long odds might turn into an unexpected cheap steal, this year's draft sagged. And that was … all right.
The Jazz improved themselves.
Unless they are wracked and wrecked with injuries again, they'll make the playoffs next April. To do anything more, to become a real contender, something more dramatic and dynamic will be required. For now, they are content to celebrate one small step forward, onto a steppingstone, knowing they couldn't have afforded any kind of step back.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.