Trade Grades: Jazz land Nickeil Alexander-Walker in three-team deal with Blazers and Spurs, report says

Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz make three-team trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Utah will land Spurs forward Juancho Hernangomez and newly acquired Blazers goaltender Nickeil Alexander-Walker as part of the deal. Portland, meanwhile, will pick up former Jazz forward Joe Ingles (who is out for the season) along with Elijah Hughes and a second-round pick from Utah. Spurs will take on Tomas Satoransky’s expiring contract and get a second-round pick from the Jazz for their troubles.

Utah had already purchased Ingles, an impending free agent, as well as a future capital draft for a difference-making perimeter defender. Instead, they land a promising young guard in Alexander-Walker who could potentially give them valuable minutes off the bench, and another shooter for their front ground in Hernangomez. Ingles will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, so replacing it while adding another significant piece should fortify Utah’s depth.

Portland landed Alexander-Walker in Tuesday’s CJ McCollum blockbuster, but the Blazers have quite a few young guards as it does. Anfernee Simons and Josh Hart are already in place as supporting pieces around Damian Lillard, so the Blazers took the opportunity to move Alexander-Walker rather than relegate him to a limited role.

San Antonio turns Hernangomez, who wasn’t playing much, into another ball handler for their bench. Satoransky — who was also in Tuesday’s Pelicans-Blazers deal — isn’t a major difference-maker, but he should be able to provide minutes off the bench. Picking up another second-round pick doesn’t hurt either. Here’s how the three teams ranked in the deal.

Utah receives:

headshot-image
headshot-image

Jazz Trade Rating: C

On the surface, it’s not a bad trade. Ingles is out for the year and Wojnarowski reports he could be a candidate to return to Utah in free agency. It would almost certainly come at a discount given his injury. All in all, having a striker who has been playable at times and a keeper with a real advantage is probably better than doing nothing. Alexander-Walker’s youth is a real asset even if he can’t help the team this year. Utah’s eight highest-paid players not named Donovan Mitchell are 28 or older. The Jazz were in dire need of new blood, and their development infrastructure will likely serve Alexander-Walker well.

But the opportunity cost is as important as the literal cost to a team like Utah. The Jazz desperately need to improve their perimeter defense. This trade doesn’t do that, and it’s also much harder for them to do that. Ingles’ expiring salary would have been essential to match the cash needed for any major acquisition, presumably with a future first-round pick. Now that Ingles is gone, it will be very difficult to match the money. Alexander-Walker and Hernangomez can’t be combined salary-wise in future trades, so if the Jazz plan to add someone earning starting money, they’ll have to trade another essential. More likely, they are looking to acquire someone with a lower salary. Keep an eye out for Kenrich Williams, who would help but not be as exciting as some of the other players the Jazz have been targeting.

Portland receives:

headshot-image
headshot-image

Commercial classification of blazers: B

Financially speaking, this is a very good deal for Portland. As I covered, the cap space the Blazers had created with their prior trades was essentially fictitious. Assuming they were planning on keeping Hart, Simons and Jusuf Nurkic, they were really only looking at around $4 million in space. Leaving Alexander-Walker for next season could earn them around $8 million, but that number could grow quite quickly. Finding a taker for Eric Bledsoe would save them an additional $3.9 million, giving them more than the mid-level exception to spend even while retaining their own key free agents. This could be invaluable in an offseason with very limited space. Still, if Portland chooses to operate above the cap, this deal could still prove beneficial by giving them Bird rights to Ingles. He’s a valuable role player when healthy, so the Blazers could re-sign him at a reasonable price, let him recover, and then get him back in the middle of next season. Whatever path they take financially, they have given themselves more flexibility. It’s a good thing.

It’s worth wondering what Alexander-Walker might have been for them. With Simons and Hart in place, there wouldn’t really be any minutes and touches to waste on Lillard’s return. His shooting numbers have been borderline disastrous this season for a rated scorer, and if Portland thinks he just doesn’t have a future in the NBA, it now makes sense to leave him. Still, it’s a little odd to see a tanking team drop a third-year player with as many upsides as Alexander-Walker before they even see him in his uniform. If he can turn things around in Utah, this deal will look pretty bad for the Blazers.

San Antonio receives:

headshot-image

Spurs Trade Rating: B+

Spurs really act like a banker here. Satoransky has a salary of $10 million this season. Hernangomez is closer to $6 million, but that number could be closer to $7 million if he gets some incentives. When you factor in the pro rata, Spurs have essentially committed to paying Satoransky between $1 million and $2 million more than Hernangomez will get the rest of the way. Neither is guaranteed a dime next season, but to eat that extra cash right now, Spurs picked up a free second-round pick for their troubles. It’s a great way to spend property money. The advantage is obviously quite limited, but free picks are free picks.

Comments are closed.