SALT LAKE CITY -- As the NBA's trade deadline came and went Thursday, the Utah Jazz decided youth, financial flexibility and the ability to control their own fate was their most valuable asset.
On a day devoid of marquee moves, the Jazz's decision makers opted to use caution and restraint rather than wheeling and dealing. That meant keeping soon-to-be unrestricted free agents Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap as well as the team's "core four" youngsters: Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks.
General manager Dennis Lindsey said and vice president Kevin O'Connor made several key moves before the deadline.
"We just said no," he explained.
"Really, the only thing that you can control is your ability to say no and set standards," Lindsey later added. "We set our internal standards in how we draft, how we sign, how we trade, how we practice and how we negotiate."
The Jazz (31-24) are in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference playoff chase. With Hayward back from missing 10 games with a shoulder sprain and point guard Mo Williams on the mend from December thumb surgery, Lindsey said he likes the team's position moving forward.
"We're competitive but we're not a contender," he said.
Lindsey noted the Jazz are not only competitive, they're financially flexible under the salary cap and luxury tax. With eight expiring contracts plus a team option for rookie Kevin Murphy and Marvin Williams' $7.5 million player option, Utah has roughly $25 million in salary committed for next season.
Maintaining that flexibility in the offseason was critical, Lindsey said.
"When you added it all up, the right thing for us was to be very disciplined," Lindsey said.
Under the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement, teams that spend big money will be heavily penalized for going over the luxury tax threshold. The league believes that ultimately will make for a more competitive free agent market and level the playing field for small-market teams like the Jazz.
With money to spend, the Jazz are poised to be players during the offseason. Additionally, they have two first-round picks as well as a second rounder selection in this summer's draft.
"At some level we'll bet on ourselves (in) the draft and free agency going forward," he added.
The Jazz are indeed competitive, having won 16 of 23 games since Jan. 1. However, they aren't likely to climb much higher than the No. 6 spot in the playoff standings. They perhaps could have made a deal Thursday that would have pushed them higher, but it would have meant taking on more more money and robbing them of the flexibility they desire. Lindsey said the Jazz had offers but none that "hit our standards."
"I had to take a look at myself and (ask), 'Am I doing this deal for me so I can sit here and say hey, I accomplished something' or are we doing the right deal for the Jazz organization," he said. "I think the right deal for the Jazz organization on a lot of different runs is to stay pat."
There was speculation the Jazz were shopping either Jefferson or Millsap, hoping to at least get some value in case one or both left as free agents.
Lindsey said that was a valid concern.
Calling it a "value proposition," he said the Jazz had to weigh trading one of their top scorers vs. standing pat, making a playoff run and then adding another piece or two in the off season, should Millsap and/or Jefferson opt to leave.
He also noted the Jazz have the ability to re-sign either player depending on how the market plays out.
"Under this period of time we decided that the incumbent position was the strongest, now and going forward," Lindsey said. "We'll see. We'll see if we're right or wrong."