The Utah Jazz rumblings that had been intensifying in recent days crescendoed on Friday, sending shockwaves through the NBA with a blockbuster trade that sent Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
After losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Dallas Mavericks in the most recent postseason, following disappointing blown leads in the second round of each of the previous two playoffs, the Jazz decided to change directions, moving on from the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
News of the trade came just hours after ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst went on a vague tangent about the Jazz being poised for big, franchise-changing moves.
“That’s what people in the league are watching right now,” he said. “What’s going on in Utah?”
Brian Windhorst just ran the First Take desk in circles. They were hanging on his every word for 2+ minutes 😂😂. Absolute masterclass. pic.twitter.com/Q1vn6mD9iz— Commissioner Cheah (@StevenCheah) July 1, 2022
While the move to trade Gobert was certainly an enormous trade and a transformational move, people around the NBA are still asking the same question.
In return for Gobert, Utah will receive Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, this year’s No. 22 overall pick Walker Kessler and a mountain of draft picks.
The Jazz will have unprotected first-round picks from the Wovles in 2023, 2025 and 2027, a top-five protected pick in 2029 and the option for a pick-swap with Minnesota in 2026.
Add all that to the 2023 first-rounder the Jazz have coming to them from sending Royce O’Neale to the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday and the Jazz have gone from being asset depleted to asset wealthy, picking up six future firsts in the span of 24 hours, which leads to why we would still be wondering what the Jazz are doing.
League sources have indicated that the Jazz are not done making moves this offseason, but there are differing opinions on what those moves could be.
With the recently acquired assets, expiring contracts of Beasley and Beverley and newly created cap flexibility, the Jazz now have two options. They can either flip some of those assets and continue to wheel and deal to build up a roster around Donovan Mitchell that they believe can be competitive in the Western Conference, or they can continue to stockpile assets and entertain trade offers for Mitchell, committing to a full rebuild.
So on one hand, the Jazz could be gearing up to trade Mitchell and other high-level players in order to initiate a truly new era of Jazz basketball, on the other, they could be heading towards flipping some of their new assets to bring in players that could have possibly been unattainable before.
There’s been quite a bit of buzz around the league about the Jazz having interest in Phoenix’s DeAndre Ayton, and there’s a faction that believes the Jazz are trying to get into talks with the Nets on acquiring Kevin Durant, who requested a trade on Thursday. There are also teams that would be more than happy to make a deal for Mitchell.
Of course, all of the discussion so far has been centered around Gobert and Mitchell, and rightfully so. But, that doesn’t even begin to get into the potential that the Jazz still have players like Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson and Rudy Gay, whose futures are likely to be decided in the coming days.
The NBA offseason is always a fickle game. It seems as if there’s a large holding pattern that’s just waiting for the first domino to fall before everyone starts to make the move that seems to be the most beneficial. The Jazz aren’t usually in a position of being one of the more important teams when it comes to move-making, but this offseason they are.
Now that the Stifle Tower is a Twin Cities fixture, the direction the Jazz decide to go with Mitchell could change things across the NBA. So now we wait for the next extremely large shoe to drop.