The Rockets were reportedly trying to sell the Jazz on a trade involving Ty Lawson and Trey Burke, which made little sense for Utah as reported. Burke has played far better than Lawson this season and is five years younger. Plus, the Jazz would have to include another player – likely Trevor Booker or Tibor Pleiss – make salaries match.
Yet, the teams are reportedly advancing in talks.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
This still doesn’t make much sense.
Utah is going to trade for someone the Rockets would just waive if they can’t deal him? Burke is far from an elite player, but he clearly has positive value in third season of his four-year his rookie-scale contract. The same can’t be said for Lawson, even with his de facto expiring contract.
Perhaps, the Jazz believe Lawson would return to form if he escapes the toxic environment in Houston. As recently as last year, Lawson was still playing at a level far superior to what Burke has ever reached. And if he gets bought out, he’s probably not signing with the Jazz.
Utah – seventh in the West and rising as the team gets healthy – could use an immediate upgrade at point guard. A deep cast 2-5 – including Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood – has this team ready to make some noise right now. A short-term boost at point guard could make the difference, and Burke makes sense as bait. Once an injured Dante Exum gets healthy next season, he figures to supplant Burke in the pecking order.
This would make a lot more sense if the Rockets included a draft pick, though I’m not sure why they need to get off Lawson a few months early. If they like Burke, who’s signed through next season, OK. But Patrick Beverley is a better fit with James Harden. At least Burke would provide the ability to play a different style at times.
The question: Is there a draft pick that accounts for Utah’s risk of downgrading at point guard this season, Houston’s desire to add Burke, the value of the other player(s) the Jazz surrender and the Rockets no longer having to pay Lawson? That’s a tough middle ground to find.