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Rudy Gobert for the No. 1 pick? Bill Simmons, Zach Lowe discuss Utah Jazz trade ideas

Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert, right, defends against Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic during the third quarter of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP

Utah Jazz front office leaders Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik said after the team’s season concluded that they have great interest this offseason in signing franchise cornerstones Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell to contract extensions.

Nevertheless, a prevailing thought outside the organization is that the duo will try to trade Gobert if they don’t want to sign him to a supermax extension for which he is eligible and Gobert becomes unhappy about that, for fear they’ll lose him for nothing next offseason when he becomes a free agent (Utah and Mitchell are expected to agree to a rookie maximum contract extension this offseason as soon as they’re able).

In that vein, The Ringer’s Bill Simmons and ESPN’s Zach Lowe got together on Lowe’s podcast Monday (named “The Lowe Post”), and discussed some significant potential trade ideas for Gobert.

The main deal they talked about was the Jazz sending Gobert and the 23rd pick in this year’s NBA draft to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first overall pick and James Johnson and Jake Layman to make the contracts work.

After Simmons proposed the deal, Lowe said, “I don’t think either team is doing that,” noting that Minnesota already has Karl-Anthony Towns at center, but said, “Utah, I get the No. 1 pick. I get the No. 1 pick. That’s a pick that’s a big deal.”

Both Simmons and Lowe noted the deal would allow the Jazz to fully commit to building around Mitchell. Said Simmons: “My trade presumes the Jazz are like, ‘We hit a wall. We cannot win the title with this team and we have no way of making this team better.’”

Lowe said he hadn’t thought of trades involving Gobert for the No. 1 pick, and added “the problem” he kept having trying to construct trades for the Frenchman is leaving Utah without a starting center (Simmons noted the Jazz could select big man James Wiseman with the No. 1 pick).

Added Lowe: “Utah’s one of those teams where it’s like, ‘Do we need to make another move to get into the conversation, or we’re just where we’re at?’”

After that discussion, Simmons and Lowe briefly spitballed a few other Gobert-centric trade ideas. Simmons proposed Gobert to the Golden State Warriors for the No. 2 pick in the draft and Andrew Wiggins, but then said, “I think (the Warriors) hang up.” Lowe said, “I don’t know. That’s a good one.”

Lowe said “the obvious” destination for Gobert is the Brooklyn Nets, but he didn’t offer a trade proposal and he “doesn’t see it happening.”

Simmons proposed Gobert to the Indiana Pacers for Myles Turner and Aaron Holiday, but Lowe didn’t like it for the Pacers because they have big man Domantas Sabonis and are dealing with the situation the Jazz once had with both Gobert and Derrick Favors as two big men on the roster.

Lowe said he tried to make a deal sending Gobert to the Sacramento Kings for Harrison Barnes “and a lot of other stuff,” and Simmons countered wondering if Buddy Hield could be sent to Utah instead.

Simmons and Lowe also discussed one other significant trade idea involving the Jazz, one that Lowe said a team executive pitched to him. The proposal saw Utah send point guard Mike Conley to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose.

Lowe said he’s heard enough about Griffin around the league to think there could be a trade market for him this offseason despite injury woes. He didn’t ultimately think Detroit would do any deal with that as the framework, but he thought it was interesting, and Simmons added, “That’s a good one.”