What Are the Utah Jazz Doing?
The Utah Jazz grabbed headlines early this offseason when they traded away three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert. The Gobert trade was nothing short of a blockbuster trade. It leaves us with many questions about the Jazz and the landscape of the NBA for the next season.
On July 1, the Utah Jazz announced that they would be trading Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for four first-round picks, Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Walker Kessler, and Leandro Bolmaro. Aside from busting the trade market for the rest of the teams in the league; that trade brought about the impending question of a rebuild for the Jazz.
The haul they got back for Gobert isn't going to make them a contender. Four draft picks and some role players aren't enough to put them over that hump they struggled to get over in the past five years. That draft capital is something that can surely turn things around for them in the future. With Donovan Mitchell still on the roster, they don't have the time to wait until the future, they must adopt a win-now mentality. Either they turn these picks into something valuable around Mitchell, or they turn Mitchell into something to help their rebuild.
Jazz executives Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik have not clarified what direction they are headed in. While they have been doing things that suggest they are heading down the path of a rebuild. Their words have indicated otherwise. Not only have the Jazz hired first-year coach Will Hardy, but they have also let some core pieces of the team walk away this offseason. Players like Royce O'Neale and Joe Ingles are no longer on the roster. If you look at Danny Ainge's track record as a general manager, there are more players he might put on the trade block.
Donovan Mitchell has been avoiding requesting a trade from the Jazz. Speculation of his unhappiness with the organization has been spreading. The Miami Heat even submitted an offer to acquire Mitchell, but the Jazz turned it down. In his five seasons on the Jazz, Mitchell averages 23.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.5 assists with 44%-36%-83% shooting splits. A three-time all-star, Mitchell is clearly one of the best players in the league, and at the age of 25, he has the skill to alter the fortunes of a franchise with the right help around him. The question is will he get that help on the Jazz?
The Jazz's following moves this offseason will be crucial in deciding what's to come. Is this the beginning of a rebuild, or is there a bigger plan at hand? It has to be one or the other. You can't half-ass a rebuild in the NBA. Either you're all in on the rebuild, or you try to compete.
The duo of Gobert and Mitchell played together for five seasons. In each season, they led the Jazz to the playoffs with an average of 48 wins. After making it to the second round of the playoffs three times and falling short, Gobert saw their window to win closing (never existed if you ask me), and so did the Zanik and Ainge. Trading away a cornerstone piece isn't necessarily the end, but it is going to be quite the adjustment period. The future of Jazz is in murky waters right now. The rest of this offseason will help clear things up. The Jazz are following the path of a rebuilding team. Only time will tell if that's where they land.