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The process amounts to an intriguing game of cat and mouse. Although nobody really knows who is which.
Welcome to the pre-draft dance between agents and teams. Teams want to work out the players, agents want to steer the players to teams with favorable situations for their clients. Agents want players to land in the best spot, teams want to take a look at as many prospects as possible.
It adds up to banter and barter behind the scenes. And for the Utah Jazz, the process of simply getting elite players to come to Salt Lake City has been a tedious chore.
"We've certainly had our problems bringing guys in over the last two years," Jazz VP of Player Personnel Walt Perrin said.
Why is this? Roster composition has a lot to do with it. The Jazz are stacked with young talent at every position. There isn't an easy path into the starting lineup for prospects, and Gordon Hayward, at 26, is the eldest member of the current core. For a team picking in the lottery the Jazz have the No. 12 selection in next week's draft Utah's situation is favorable, looking into the near future. The Jazz are expected to at least challenge for a playoff spot. This all means any prospective draft pick may have to wait his turn.
This is the reality that causes agents to try to steer their clients away from the Jazz. And it's the reality the Jazz have to fight, although they know it and embrace it in some ways.
Agents consistently look at the bottom line. A rookie comes in with a four year deal two of them guaranteed before teams hold options for two years. That means, in a lot of cases, a player has two years to make an impact, or they can risk being lost in the shuffle. Former Jazz shooting guard Morris Almond is a prime example of this. He was Utah's 2007 first-round pick. He got caught behind a lot of depth on the wings, played two years, and was let go by the team when his third-year option wasn't picked up.
"We have to be diligent about where to send our guys, because they have a tight window," said agent Stephen Pina, who works with ASM. "It's natural to want our guys going to spots where they have a chance to contribute right away."
Pina represents Syracuse guard Malachi Richardson and Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead. Pina allowed Richardson to work out in Salt Lake City because he feels Richardson would have a role on Utah's roster.
"The Jazz need shooting, and Malachi can shoot the ball," Pina said. "He brings something that they need, and the Jazz are a great organization."
Still, the Jazz have had their issues bringing in elite prospects. They were able to bring in two players projected in their range Michigan State's Deyonta Davis and Gonzaga's Domantas Sabonis. Utah hasn't been able to secure a workout from Kentucky big man Skal Labissiere or University of Utah center Jakob Poeltl.
And even Davis and Sabonis were solo workouts, at the behest of their agents. For Utah, that's the game. In order to bring guys in, they have had to make some concessions. Being able to work them out against other prospects is ideal. But the Jazz haven't had any issues.
"Solo workouts in some cases are fine with us," Perrin said. "We're getting a look at the prospects, and that's important."
Utah as an organization understands that pre-draft power lies with agents. But the Jazz have worked to compensate. They are known to draft a prospect they haven't worked out with little hesitation. In 2013, the Jazz traded for Trey Burke. In 2014, they drafted both Dante Exum and Rodney Hood. They hadn't brought any of those guys in for a workout.
The vetting process is a bit more exhaustive and difficult in these cases. But the Jazz scouting department has seen many of the players they select as far back as high school. So they feel like they have the needed information to take players, even if they haven't seen them up close.
"It's all about doing the homework," Perrin said. "We talk to a bunch of people surrounding the player. We talk to their coaches, we talk to the strength and conditioning guys. We talk to the academic guys. If it's an international player, we talk to the staff and coaches on the club. In the case of Rodney and Dante, we felt comfortable taking both players. We knew they were good guys, good players and would add to our culture."
Recent Jazz workout history
Notable current players the Jazz have worked out • Trey Burke, Trey Lyles, Rudy Gobert
Notable players the Jazz have drafted without working out • Dante Exum, Rodney Hood
Projected lottery picks the Jazz have worked out • Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis, Michigan State forward Deyonta Davis and guard Denzel Valentine