Out of the reported trade on Friday that will send Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz to the Minnesota Timberwolves, two somewhat random draft-related subplots came about that may or may not be considered coincidental.
First, Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly amended what many would consider a mistake he made almost exactly nine years ago.
On June 17, 2013, Connelly was named executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager of the Denver Nuggets.
Ten days later, he used his first draft pick as the man in charge to select Gobert. Of course, he then traded Gobert to the Jazz for the 46th pick — guard Erick Green — and cash.
Gobert has gone on to be a three-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, while Green played in just 52 games in the league (incidentally, he had two consecutive 10-day contracts with the Jazz in 2016).
Just over a month ago, Connelly was hired away by Minnesota after an incredibly successful nine-year run with the Nuggets, his early trade of Gobert (and Donovan Mitchell in 2017) notwithstanding, and now he’ll have the Stifle Tower on his team.
As for Item No. 2, one of the Jazz’s acquisitions in the trade will be center Walker Kessler, who was the 22nd overall pick in the annual draft on June 23.
The pick was made by the Memphis Grizzlies, who then traded Kessler and the 29th pick, guard TyTy Washington, to the Timberwolves for the 19th pick, Jake LaRavia (Washington was then traded again by the Timberwolves to the Houston Rockets).
What does all of that have to do with the Jazz?
As was talked about frequently before the draft, the Jazz went into that night with no picks. The reason they didn’t have a first rounder was because it belonged to the Grizzlies as part of the Mike Conley trade from 2019.
No. 22, Walker Kessler.