The Utah Jazz weren’t able to get out of the first round of the playoffs. Despite having seen six straight postseason berths, the Jazz have only been as far as the second round and have never taken a second-round series past a Game 6.

Facing a offseason of uncertainty, it seemed like a good time to open up the mailbag and talk about some of the pressing things on Jazz fans’ minds.

Yes.

I think that Donovan Mitchell as the primary ballhandler next to a larger complement of wing players makes the most sense if you’re going to move forward with Mitchell. A move like that would require a lot from Mitchell, but it’s what should be expected of him at this point and if he can’t make the right adjustments, then we might have to reevaluate what Mitchell’s ceiling is.

Mitchell is going to have to improve further on the defensive end and he’s going to have to be able to take on some really crafty and quick point guards. Also, he’s going to have to be able to find the right balance for creating and playmaking vs. scoring. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a right time and place for him to just take the ball and get a bucket, but he has to know the right time and place and also initiate ball movement that will keep the defense on their toes.

I still think that there is another level for Mitchell that we haven’t seen, and I think that putting him in place as the lead ballhandler will allow an opportunity for him to prove his mettle.

There are a lot of teams over the last few years who would have been very happy to have Mike Conley or Bojan Bogdanovic as their third best player or their third option. At this point I think that the question that we should be asking is, can a team win it all with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert as their top two players?

If we aren’t at the point yet, we are very very close to being able to say that the Mitchell-Gobert duo is not going to be good enough to win it all.

I think that’s where the Jazz are right now and I think it’s that question they have to face this offseason. If they believe that there is still retooling that can make this work, then maybe they give this duo one more chance. But, I don’t think that it’s a problem of a third star.

I absolutely buy this narrative.

An All-Star game brings a lot of people into the host city because every team and every player comes with PR teams and trainers and publicists and stylists and endorsement teams and agents and family and friends. There are entertainment teams and representatives from every sponsor and that doesn’t even get into all the people that it takes to put on the shows and festivities and the former players and the coaches and, and, and ...

But even with all of those people, the host team still needs to sell tickets to all of the events and games and it’s a lot easier to do all that when there is strong representation from the home team. If you think that ticket sales and being able to market a competitive team with established stars is not on the mind of the Jazz, you’re wrong.

The NBA is a business and every team definitely wants to win, but the league also wants to make money. Now, there’s a point where those two things go hand in hand, but sometimes sacrifices are made in order to make money at optimal moments and All-Star weekend is not something that the Jazz are going to ignore.

I don’t think that anyone saw the Phoenix Suns-Dallas Mavericks series going the way it did. But no matter how it ended, I think that there are a couple of really important things that we can point to in order to better understand this last year’s Jazz team.

First, there are going to be games in the playoffs when even the most lethal of teams go cold. You just have to hope it’s early in a series and that you are able to rebound. A bad shooting performance is not unique to the Jazz and it doesn’t mean that they are a team of bad scorers.

What’s maybe even more important, especially when you are not in an offensive rhythm, is that in the playoffs, you have to be able to rely on your defense. When I’m watching the Mavericks and compare it to what I saw from the Jazz it makes me realize that the Jazz were just not good enough defensively to handle the deeper playoff rounds.

Not only do I think that the Jazz were too small and not switchy enough, but when you look at the way the Mavs rotated even when they were deploying double teams, they were leagues ahead of where the Jazz were. The Jazz weren’t defensively disciplined enough to do what Dallas did.

I think that it takes the right personnel, but it also takes a level of focus and determination on that side of the ball. The Jazz have to do better.

If I were to answer this question conservatively and in the way I think I can imagine the Jazz actually operating, I might say trade Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and maybe Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Maybe there’s a deal to be made with the Atlanta Hawks for John Collins or Kevin Huerter or maybe the Indiana Pacers might willing to part with Malcolm Brogdon. I’ll have some more trade ideas later in the offseason, but that’s kind of off the top of my head.

You could go after one of the Golden State Warriors’ free agents like Juan Tuscano-Anderson or even Damian Lee, or maybe something more ambitious like Victor Oladipo after his run with the Miami Heat. Keep Juancho Hernangomez and Danuel House Jr., develop Jared Butler and see what we can make happen.

But, that would be the conservative approach.

If I’m being completely honest and I was the general manager in charge of making the roster decisions for the Utah Jazz, I would trade everyone. Every big contract would have to go and I’d get as many expiring deals and future picks as possible and then try to do a quick rebuild over the next two to three years. But I’m kind of a reckless person who would throw caution to the wind. If I was the GM, I’d tear it all down and try a different approach.

From what general manager Justin Zanik said after the season it seems like the Jazz definitely want to get Butler playing summer ball, as well as some of the other young players through the last couple seasons.

Don’t forget that the last couple of years have been really weird for the NBA. There was no 2020 summer league and barely any preseason for the 2020-21 season, the offseason was abbreviated last year and Butler wasn’t able to play so I think there’s going to be a lot of emphasis for him and other players that could include Udoka Azubuike and even Trent Forrest.

Outside of that, I would expect some of the Stars players including Zaire Wade and also some undrafted players hoping to make a summer splash.

Well, what writers do on a game day depends on what city we are in, if the game is a back-to-back, if we are traveling on the day of the game and some other variables. But, it all usually starts off with a team shootaround, followed by interviews. Those interviews can be based around the upcoming game or games or we might be doing one-on-one interviews for an upcoming project.

After shootaround we get some lunch and then there’s usually some writing that we have to get done. There might be some radio, podcast or TV spots that we’ve agreed to and then we get ready for the game. If we’re lucky there’s time for a nap, because we’re going to be awake pretty late that night.

Get to the arena a couple hours before the game is set to tip off, do pregame interviews with the coaches of both teams, mingle around the arena and meet up with sources or talk with players and coaches, have dinner and then get prepped for the game to start.

I usually am writing and tweeting throughout the game and then file an instant analysis soon after the final buzzer. Then we have to race toward to the interview rooms from wherever we’re sitting to do postgame interviews with players and coaches.

Sometimes after the game is a good time to meet with executives, players or other sources, but then there’s more writing and reviewing game film to do. By the time we get done with everything it’s usually after midnight. And we all live happily ever after.