Jazz Insider Forecasts Bizarre Draft-Day Maneuvers

It's unclear which direction the Utah Jazz are headed as we approach the draft.
Apr 28, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith speaks with Utah Jazz CEO of basketball operations Danny Ainge prior to a game against the Dallas Mavericks during game six of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 28, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith speaks with Utah Jazz CEO of basketball operations Danny Ainge prior to a game against the Dallas Mavericks during game six of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
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The 2024 NBA draft is just around the corner, and with less than two weeks until the picks start rolling in, it's still unclear what path the Utah Jazz will be taking. Utah owns picks No. 10, 29, and 32, and it's anyone's guess what player(s) will be calling Salt Lake City home next season.

Jazz CEO Danny Ainge brings a reputation as someone who likes to upgrade the roster via trade, and according to Jazz beat writer Tony Jones of The Athletic, this could be the case leading up to the draft. Jones shared his thoughts on The Drive Guys with Kevin Gleason and Kyle Draper on Sactown Sports 1140

"I do not expect them to use all three picks. I think they're going to trade at least one of them. I think they could even possibly trade at least two of them, and I think they possibly even look to trade the ten pick. If you know, they find something good for a veteran."

This insight is consistent with Ainge's post-season press conference remarks. 'Trader Danny' told the press, "We're ready to go big game hunting," and those comments have Jazz fans wondering if this is the year that Utah will make a major acquisition in an effort to enter into the playoff conversation. With All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen's contract expiring after this season, this could be the time to pair Utah's best player with another major difference maker.

However, if we're being realistic, the Jazz are still multiple players away from being considered a contender, so making an upgrade could be premature at this stage. Keep in mind the 2025 NBA draft class is projected to be loaded with top-tier talent, and tanking the upcoming season is still an option. Despite Jones' take on picks being moved before the draft, he's still unclear what direction Utah is headed.

"If I were a Jazz fan this summer, I would just expect anything, and this is one of the first offseasons where I could say about the Jazz. Whatever they do, it won't surprise me."

Jazz fans are divided on whether tanking this season is the right move. Over the last two seasons, Utah has tanked but didn't put the wheels in motion until after the trade deadline. This put them in an unfortunate situation in which they didn't get any post-season experience while also not obtaining a top 5 pick. Heading into the third season of the rebuild, you would like Utah to commit to one way or the other prior to the start of the season. 

Also, does tanking the 2024-25 season hinder Utah's chances of re-signing Markkanen? Markkanen just turned 27 and has never participated in the playoffs. One has to think that what moves Utah makes this summer will influence his decision on what franchise he'll be suiting up for while in his prime.

There are many moving parts, but answers are coming soon, with the draft set to begin on June 26 and the free agency frenzy starting on June 30.

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Patrick Byrnes

PATRICK BYRNES

Patrick Byrnes is the Deputy Editor of The Frozen Rope — SI.com's team website covering the Utah Jazz.