'Biggest Fear' for Utah Jazz Revealed Heading Into NBA Offseason

The Utah Jazz must hope things don't take a turn for the worst.
Mar 25, 2024; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at Delta Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 25, 2024; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at Delta Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
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It's clear Danny Ainge has a vision for this Utah Jazz team going into this NBA offseason, but what happens if his master plan fall through?

The Jazz walk into this summer with the chance to take some massive strides forward ahead of the coming season, but a few parts of the process have to fall their way to do so. After suffering from their second-straight year posting under a .500 record, a contender doesn't come overnight, and Utah will need to make the right moves to get back to their winning ways.

Among those moves includes the re-signing, and likely re-negotiation of Lauri Markkanen's contract to stick in Salt Lake City long-term. All signs point to the Jazz having every intention of keeping the All-Star forward around, along with the hammering out of a new deal when the opportunity comes.

But what if those contract talks go sideways?

That's the scenario Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report laid out for the Jazz when dishing each team's biggest fear for this offseason, with Utah's nightmare situation as Markkanen being unwilling to re-negotiate and extend his current deal:

Markkanen will make $18 million in the final year of his contract. Since players can only sign extensions for up to 140 percent of their current deal, the Jazz could only offer Markkanen a new contract starting at around $25 million. For someone who could get a max deal as an unrestricted free agent in 2025, this isn't going to cut it. Utah will likely try renegotiating Markkanen's current contract, giving him a raise using their $33.4 million in cap space and then extending off that... The Jazz have to hope that Markkanen is open to this idea and does not want to test the free-agent market next summer instead.

Greg Swartz, Bleacher Report

Of course, when going down the list of things Utah wouldn't want to happen this offseason, losing out on their franchise cornerstone is likely towards the top. Markkanen has been a central focus of this Jazz team since he arrived in 2022, and while the seven-year vet hasn't shown many signs of wanting to depart from SLC, the NBA is unpredictable and changes quickly.

Markkanen's name has been revolving around trade rumors in recent months, but it's hard to expect the Jazz to pull the trigger on a deal without a significant, borderline unobtainable package in return. Utah clearly values the 27-year-old at a high mark and should look to showcase that when extension talks open up in late July.

Expect to hear Markkanen's name become the center of contract talks later down the line this offseason, and a hopeful long-term commitment in SLC soon to follow.


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Jared Koch

JARED KOCH

Jared Koch is the Associate Editor of The Frozen Rope — SI.com's team website covering the Utah Jazz. He's covered the NBA and NFL for the past two years, also being the Managing Editor of Inside The Kings — SI.com's team website covering the Sacramento Kings.