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The Jazz were looking at acquiring a veteran point guard via a trade in the hours leading up to the NBA draft.
But just because Utah took a combo guard in Donovan Mitchell on Thursday in the draft doesn't mean those conversations necessarily will end, general manager Dennis Lindsey said.
While he didn't name whom the Jazz were looking at, Lindsey confirmed "we are, and we will continue" looking for a veteran point guard. While his "best guess" was that the Jazz will try to get one in free agency, the team still has some ability to wheel and deal if it must.
"We have a few extra draft picks that could be assets that could be coupled with the cap room," he said.
The Jazz are about $13.6 million under the salary cap, which expires July 1. If they were to make an "uneven" trade to use that cap space, it would have to be by the deadline.
Still, Utah's priority at point guard appears to be George Hill, who averaged 16.9 points and 4.2 assists per game. The Jazz might've been helped over the weekend by a point guard-heavy draft as well as a trade that sent D'Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets, a team that had a lot of space to sign Hill.
"We're going to continue to evaluate George Hill as our incumbent free agent," Lindsey said. "George is going to have an incumbent advantage."
The Tribune has reported that Utah also has made inquiries about Houston's Patrick Beverley and Minnesota's Ricky Rubio.
Banking on Bradley
At 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, Tony Bradley's numbers aren't about to blow away anyone even though he spent his only college year at North Carolina, which won the NCAA title.
But for the Jazz's 28th overall pick, Bradley's per-game totals weren't as important as his efficiency. When Utah analyzed his offensive rating (third-best among the Tar Heels), his per-100 possession and per-40-minute marks, it saw the marks of a productive player. Combine it with his 6-foot-10 size and a 7-5 wingspan, and it was enough for the Jazz to package their 30th and 42nd picks to move up for him.
ESPN's draft coverage alluded to several experts who had Bradley ranked much higher than conventional mock drafts. The Jazz agreed with those assessments.
"You have to look past the per-game averages to the more advanced stats," Lindsey said. "Some of our people that deal with our statistical modeling picked up on that same thing that was out there in the public, how productive Tony was."
Lindsey said he thought Bradley was one of the better offensive rebounders coming out of college but acknowledged any contribution he can make to the NBA is probably in the distant future. Utah wants to improve his conditioning, fix some of his shot mechanics and eventually establish him as a backup to Rudy Gobert.
Utah had other insights as well. Senior vice president of basketball operations Kevin O'Connor is close friends with UNC coach Roy Williams. The Jazz like Bradley's firm family background, one of the factors they consider, and they think he has the personality to grow within the franchise.
"There are two or three things that, three or four years down the road with time and experience and development, that he'll be able to do that young players going to a national title contender just aren't able to show," Lindsey said.
Exum, Hood working out in Utah
Dante Exum said it during exit interviews: "Obviously, I still have a long way to go."
The Jazz told him as much during the interview with the 21-year-old Australian, and apparently he's paying attention. Exum, and fellow teammate Rodney Hood, is spending the summer in Utah to train, perhaps looking for a similar spike Gordon Hayward got out of spending his summer in-state last year.
"You'll see a tremendous player," Lindsey said "We have very high expectations for him."
The Jazz were encouraged two years ago when Exum trained for a second year in the league, but his progress was disrupted by a torn ACL.
Lindsey said he and coach Quin Snyder challenged Exum and "gave him some truth." Exum decided to stay in town, and according to Lindsey, that's helped him make strides.
"Dante is doing extremely good work," Lindsey said. "[Strength coach] Jeff Watkinson came over today and singled out Dante and Rodney as doing really good work, so we're excited."
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