Jazz end draft night without making a pick or a trade

Danny Ainge is leading the Utah Jazz search for the team’s next head coach. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — It’s an open secret the Utah Jazz are looking to change things up this offseason. So what better time than the often trade-happy draft?

At least that was the thought going into Thursday’s draft. By the end, though, the Jazz were unchanged.

Jazz CEO Danny Ainge’s first draft as a member of the Utah front office proved to be unventful — or at least unfruitful. Utah entered Thursday without a pick and failed to trade into the draft.

So, for now, things remain the same. At least mostly.

Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley, Royce O’Neale, Jordan Clarkson and everyone else is still on the roster.

Utah signed UCLA’s Johnny Juzang to a two-way contract following the draft, according to an ESPN report. The 6-foot-6 wing averaged 15.6 points on 36% shooting from 3-point range last season and led the Bruins to an unexpected Final Four run in 2021.

But the biggest news was Utah’s lack of activity in the draft. Thursday was the first time the team hasn’t made a draft selection since 1992.

Earlier this week, team owner Ryan Smith stopped short of saying he expected the team to trade into the draft, but did hint that the Jazz would be quite active.

“With Danny’s track record, I mean, I’d love to get as many picks as possible; but it’s a marketplace, so it has to be right,” Smith said.

Turns out, they weren’t able to find anything they liked — nothing was right.

The price of picks have certainly gone up over the years. It was nine seasons ago the Jazz spent $3 million to buy back into the first round to take Gobert with the No. 27 pick. That amount might not have been enough to even get in the second round on Thursday.

The Golden State Warriors reportedly sent $2 million and the No. 51 pick to the Atlanta Hawks just to move up to No. 44.

Considering that type of price tag, it might not be too much of a surprise the Jazz didn’t trade into the draft — especially since the team de-emphasized their normally wide-reaching draft process. Utah brought in 52 players for pre-draft workouts, with the vast majority of them going undrafted on Thursday. Those weren’t without benefit, though; Juzang was part of the team’s first such workout on May 26.

Jazz vice president of pro personnel Bart Taylor even admitted this month that with the team going through a coaching search, it was actually beneficial it didn’t have to prep as heavily for the draft.

“We have the coaching search that we’ve had to add on to it, so it’s been a lot more work. In a way, it’s kind of good that we don’t have a draft pick,” he said.

Utah was one of three teams — the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns were the two others — that did not have a pick in either the first or second round.

But just because a seismic move didn’t occur on Thursday doesn’t mean one won’t happen. The silly NBA offseason has only just begun; the rumors will likely continue to swirl.

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Ryan Miller has covered the Utah Jazz for KSL.com since 2018.

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