The Utah Jazz’s Australian utility, Joe Ingles has quickly became one of the NBA’s hottest free agents for this coming off-season.
Whilst it was not news to any Australian NBA fan, Australia’s Joe Ingles was a surprise stand-out this for the Utah Jazz this season. Ingles has been the ultimate glue-man for the Jazz this season. He keeps improving and stood out in shutting down J.J. Redick in the first round of the playoffs. Redick was well down on his season averages, and Ingles completely made his life hell.
“If you look at his numbers offensively they don’t look that great, but I thought he was a difference maker.” Doc Rivers told ESPN.
Fortunately for Ingles, this recognition, and form-spike has come around at the best time possible. Ingles is about to enter restricted free-agency, and offers for Ingles will fetch more than $10 million per season.
This article could have easily been called “why every side could use Joe Ingles”. His game suits every play style and he doesn’t need the ball a lot to make a difference. However, that is far less fun. So with Ingles’ name hot on the lips of many NBA franchises, we look at the teams who could make a realistic play at the 29 year-old Adelaide man.
Joe Ingles is a restricted free-agent. Meaning that the Jazz will have match rights on any contract accepted. The Jazz will be hoping to keep him on their roster.
Joe Ingles is a perfect for the Utah Jazz system. He is a player who is able to mesh with the side. Ingles is also a great team man, with teammates showing their appreciation:
“Joe is an (expletive). No, no, no. Joe, he’s a good guy, a funny guy. That’s just how he is. He’s a guy, he likes to talk a lot of trash. He just likes to get up under people’s skin. … That’s just his personality, period.” – Derick Favors
Coach, Quin Snyder has also recently heaped praise on the Australian.
“He’s been so unbelievably coachable,” he said of Ingles. “He figured out that he could shoot and started shooting. Then people started having to close out on him and he’s able to use his shot to get into the lane.”
Snyder is not wrong about the shooting. Ingles ranked third in the NBA in 3-point percentage, hitting 44.1 percent of his deep shots. His ability to shoot the three has helped space the floor for the Jazz and now he is respected from beyond the arc, he can find more ways to impact the game on offence. His craftiness and passing ability has helped the Jazz throughout the season.
However, whilst Ingles is a restricted free agent, he is the third priority behind Gordon Hayward and George Hill. If the offers for those two start to rise, then Ingles may be the player left out.
The Miami Heat will enter the off-season in a strange position. They just missed the playoffs after a fairytale second half of the season. The Heat became everybody’s second side as they went on their win-streak.
The reason Ingles will work with the Heat is simple; Joe Ingles is a rich man’s Rodney McGruder. The 6-foot-4 rookie has gone above and beyond this season. However he is not the player Joe Ingles is. Ingles is also taller, and can defend more positions than the undersized McGruder.
Ingles’ play-making abilities off limited opportunity and ability to shoot the three-ball is an incredible fit with Dion Waiters and Goran Dragic. Dragic and Waiters driving and kicking out to a high IQ wing like Ingles would surely give opposition coaches something to think about.
If the Heat can bring Ingles, along with getting Waiters, and James Johnson to return, the Heat side is looking like a wildcard in the East. Dragic, Waiters, Ingles, Johnson at the 4, Whiteside is a solid starting lineup in the modern NBA. Along with that Justice Winslow, McGruder, Tyler Johnson and others will give bench options.
The Wolves will have north of $25 million in cap space for next season. With time running out before they need to start paying their studs, there is not a lot of opportunities left for the Wolves to add a substantial piece to their current roster. Next season the Wolves are expecting to make the playoffs but realistically need another piece to consolidate their talent. Short of players like Durant and Curry, who look likely to stay, the current free-agent pool is quite weak.
Ingles adds much needed defensive versatility to the Wolves. The ability to guard four positions on the court, whilst stretching the floor for interior scorers appeals to head honcho, Tom Thibodeau. Whilst the Wolves had a top-10 offense throughout the season, however their defense was bottom five. A lot of this is teething problems for the Wolves (no pun intended). However Thibodeau is traditionally a defensive minded coach and will look for that defense to improve next season as they set themselves up to break their playoff drought.
The fact that Ingles makes the most of his limited opportunities on the ball is the thing that would help the most on offense. The Timberwolves have young starts Karl Anthony-Towns, and Andrew Wiggins who both demand high usage. Finding efficient players to fit alongside their core is the off-season aim. The Wolves shot the fewest three-point attempts last season and need more players to space the floor.
It isn’t only his three-point shooting that would help the Wolves’ offense. Ingles’ created 0.76 points per possession as the pick-and-roll ball handler in the regular season. Another pick-and-roll distributor who can actually make plays alongside Ricky Rubio would also be a huge boost to the Timberwolves side.
The 76ers will have an estimated $39 million in cap-space this off-season. With Australian counterpart, Ben Simmons being given most of the ball-handling duties, the 76ers will want additional complimentary play-makers to help carry the load. Ingles can help fill that void.
The Sixers are still figuring out the best way for them to play at full strength and would too wise to splash out a max deal for anybody besides a blue chip free agent. However, they will look for other pieces to add to their core. With the melting pot of talent in Philadelphia, it would be wise for the Sixers to overpay for a glue player like Ingles.
When Joel Embiid was healthy, Philadelphia were more competitive than anybody imagined. If Embiid can string together healthy games (yeah, I know) next year, then who knows what they will be capable of.
Ingles combined with Embiid, Dario Saric, and Simmons gives the 76ers a versatile front court that can handle the ball, shoot, and defend. Mix this in with other wings like Robert Covington and the Sixers could quickly rise up the stadnigns in the East.
Furthermore 76ers coach, Brett Brown has experience with Australian basketball and has coached Joe Ingles before. No matter what type of rotation the Sixers stick with, Ingles will be able to compliment it.
The Denver Nuggets look like a side on the verge of making the playoffs next season. They looked on track to get there this season this season before getting fleeced in trading away Jusuf Nurkic.
With Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets have their offensive centerpiece of the future. However, they also have a headache for the future. Building a competent defense around a center who at his peak will be league average defender is complicated. The Nuggets will need versatile defenders around Jokic and Ingles is definitely that. To add to his defensive value, Ingles’ ability to stretch the floor and be an efficient ball-user will compliment Jokic’s play-making abilities.
The Nuggets have a roster with almost too much young talent. There is not enough minutes in a game to get enough time in to all of their players, creating a log-jam at guard. Denver’s overall quality is going to be tested however, with Danilo Gallinari likely to enter free agency.
Gallinari is a priority for the Nuggets this off-season. However regardless of where he ends up, Ingles would help the Nuggets in a push to make the playoffs.
Whilst I would absolutely love to add to the rumour-mill and the intrigue, the Utah Jazz have match rights on Ingles and are currently the favourites to re-sign him.
Short of a team offering Ingles a unrealistically large sum, or more than a 3 year deal, I see Utah matching.
Another deciding factor is if the Jazz lose any of their other free agents. If Gordon Hayward and George Hill move, then the Jazz may not want to focus more on youth. Being the third priority to the Jazz, Ingles’ future will have a lot of variables. Although I can see the Jazz keeping their core together.
Writer’s Prediction: Joe Ingles stays with the Jazz – 3 year, $35 Million on a deal.