Busy summer in Salt Lake City as Jazz try to rise in the West

Utah adds several new faces through draft, trades and free agency
by Aaron Lopez
Nuggets.com

In the search for the most active Northwest Division team of the summer, look no further than Salt Lake City.

As Nuggets.com wraps up its offseason review of each team in the Northwest Division, we turn our focus to the Utah Jazz.

Background: After trading starting shooting guard Randy Foye to Denver and losing stalwart forwards Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to free agency last summer, the Jazz entered rebuilding mode.

The changes allowed promising young players Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Trey Burke to play big minutes, but the result was a 25-57 record and last place in the division.

Summer moves: After missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, the Jazz made a coaching change in June, naming Quin Snyder to replace Tyrone Corbin.

Utah was just getting started with its summer plan. The Jazz took combo guard Dante Exum with the fifth overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft and added forward Rodney Hood at No. 23.

Utah later acquired veteran sharpshooter Steve Novak in a trade with the Toronto Raptors and then re-signed Gordon to a contract extension. The Jazz also traded for guard Carrick Felix and signed free-agent forward Trevor Booker.

Big picture: With a potential starting lineup of Burke, Exum, Kanter, Hayward and Favors, the Jazz are going to be among the youngest teams in the league next season.

They also could be among the most intriguing.

Last season, the Phoenix Suns proved that a first-year coach (Jeff Hornacek) and a talented young nucleus could make some noise in the Western Conference. The Jazz would be thrilled to follow that blueprint in 2014-15.

Whether that happens remains to be seen.