Joe Ingles is already 29, arriving to the NBA from Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2014 after several seasons in Europe. This was his opportunity to get a major, multi-year deal even though he was limited by being a restricted free agent and the Utah Jazz cashed him in with a four-year, $52 million contract.
With a dearth of capable defenders against small forwards who can spread the floor as well as he can, Ingles was always going to receive significant interest in free agency, even restricted free agent.
On offense, Ingles shot 44.1 percent on 7.4 three-point attempts per 100 possessions while also operating as an adept passer and occasional playmaker off the dribble. Ingles ranked 12th amongst small forwards in Real Plus Minus last season.
Ingles’ defense was showcased in the first round of the playoffs against the Clippers when he even showed how he could be versatile enough to defend Chris Paul. While the shooting should hold up over the life of this contract, Ingles could slip in a meaningful way on defense.
Utah’s five-man lineup of Ingles, Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and George Hill ranked eighth in the NBA in Net Rating.
For a team with a lot of understated personalities, Ingles also gives the Jazz a bit of swagger and personality. Ingles was the guy who offered to hire a car to drive the Warriors to Las Vegas between games after they expressed their disappointment playing in Salt Lake City in the second round instead of Los Angeles. Ingles was also the guy that dared DeAndre Jordan out to the corner before hitting a three-pointer in his face.
The cost for Utah is significant but they absolutely had to keep Ingles if they want to continue the momentum of their 16-17 playoff run. Ingles also is part of the price in either re-signing Hayward or not completely cratering if he leaves. But the fact that Ingles will likely be in Utah’s meeting with Hayward, as a very good complementary piece and one of his best friends on the team, will surely help convince Hayward to stay.
The Jazz may unfortunately need to trade Ingles in a year or two as Gobert is now on a big contract, Rodney Hood is now extension eligible, and Hayward presumably re-signs for the max.
Grade for Jazz: B+
Despite a nice career in Europe with Barcelona and Maccabi that always involved NBA interest, Ingles has never made a ton of money but he certainly does now with an annual average of $13 million that will take him into his mid-thirties. Ingles jumps to that level from a two-year, $4.5 million he signed in 2015.
Ingles could have signed elsewhere but Utah was almost certain to match. If they didn't, the fit may not have been as good, and the team would have probably been further away from competing. Ingles improbably became indispensable and the second wave of the NBA's cap spike rewarded him for it.
Grade for Joe Ingles: A