The NBA world felt shock waves when the Jazz sent Rudy Gobert to Minnesota in a blockbuster for a historic return. When the Jazz was eliminated from the playoffs in April, speculation began as to whether the Jazz would break up their All-Star duo and start over. In our offseason preview for the Jazzwe concluded they were in good hands for a remodel under newly hired Danny Ainge due to its history of extracting optimal value in trades.
The former Boston Celtics executive managed to top his previous 2013 trading profit with the Brooklyn Nets by not only getting three unprotected first round picks again (2023, 2025, 2027), but also an additional Top 5 serving as first was protected in 2029. If you include this year’s 22nd overall pick, Walker Kessler, the Jazz got five first-round picks for Gobert, all without taking on any long-term cash. They also traded Royce O’Neale to the Nets for a first round pick on the eve of free agency.
Now the big question is: what happens next? And what that really is is the question of whether the Jazz will also trade Donovan Mitchell now that the roster has taken a major competitive hit in the short term. As hard as it is to move an all-time defender, who in all likelihood was bought entirely from the organization and the City of Utah, the returns they got were too good to pass up.
Where the Jazz is now
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Jazz probably found themselves at the end of the road with this core with little to no flexibility to reshape the roster. The recent maximum extensions for Gobert and Mitchell, which went into effect last season, immediately accelerated their timeline. They settled the core around the two All-Stars in the 2019 off-season when they used cap space to sign Bojan Bogdanovic and exchanged for Mike Conley.
From then on, they were capped and relied on trades and exceptions to add talent. In the end, they had to pay all of their core players, and the money quickly piled up. While high luxury tax payments wouldn’t necessarily be an issue going forward, it was the lack of tradable assets that brought their window closer to the end.
Throughout the past season, they were reportedly interested in pursuing a defensively forward. One of these available players was Jerami Grant, which was eventually dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers for a future first-round pick. The Jazz were still able to trade enough first round picks to make a stronger bid for such a player type at the time. However, such a deal would have emptied their already low number of tradable assets. They already owe a first round in 2024 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, which will be largely protected by a lottery until 2026.
Ultimately, the Jazz felt that they would be more likely to conflict with a retool/rebuild rather than maintaining the status quo. In less than 24 hours, they went from one of the most limited teams from a salary cap perspective to one of the most flexible teams in the future. They are in a position to generate more than $40 million by 2023, but that could change if they expand this trade, such as one that includes sending Kevin Durant to Phoenixfor example.
The five first-round rosters they’ve added also make them one of the most asset-rich teams in the league. If the Jazz is going all in for a remodel, chances are they’ll be making selections with some of the ones to come. If at any point they want to speed up such a remodel, they have that option too.
The Future of Donovan Mitchell
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
It is possible that more trades are taking place around their other role players. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Jazz Plan continues rearrange the schedule around Mitchell, suggesting he’s off the table for now. Tony Jones of the Athletic confirmed those feelings and added that the Jazz are active in the trading market, probably in deals involving their other role players.
Conversations would probably start with their plethora of guards, including… Mike Conley† Jordan Clarksonand Nickeil Alexander-Walker† They can also discuss trades for newly acquired Malik Beasley† Patrick Beverleyand Leandro Bolmaro† It’s possible the Jazz can extract a few more first round picks for these players and later convert them into better veteran pieces around Mitchell.
However, the door may not be completely closed to a Mitchell trade. According to Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune, the Jazz could keep their options open, including: Trade Mitchell for a Huge Catch† After putting the market on four unprotected first-round picks for Gobert, who is older and on a larger contract, Utah will likely order at least a similar package to consider moving Mitchell.
Few teams have at least four tradeable picks in the first round, and even fewer in that group are able to speed up their rebuild and take on Mitchell. This could rule out teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, and Houston Rockets, especially since most of those teams have franchise guards that they are committed to. The Golden State Warriors could also make a strong offer for Mitchell, but it seems unlikely they will rethink their roster in such a trade.
New York Knicks
Rob Gray-US TODAY Sports
The Knicks have been associated with Mitchell recently seeing his ties to New York and the CAA affiliation. According to Ian Begley, the Knicks could believe that the amount of assets needed to take over Mitchell? can leave them with little to improve the team afterwards.
That said, they do have the necessary assets to take over Mitchell, including four of their own and four extra they have from other teams. They also have several young players that they can take on such as: Obi Toppin† Immanuel Quickley† Quentin Grimesand Miles McBride† The matching salary can be in the form of a combination of: Evan Fournier† Derrick Roseand Cam reddish†
New Orleans Pelicans
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Pelicans are another team that could make an aggressive offer for Mitchell. A framework could include: CJ McCollum for salary adjustment, and young players such as Herb Jones† Trey Murphy III† Jose Alvarado, and Dyson Daniels. They can also include up to four of their own first-round picks, and two more owed to them. The idea of cashing in some of their remaining chips and trading McCollum for a younger All-Star guard in Mitchell might make sense.
Chris Nicoll-US TODAY Sports
After the Knicks and Pelicans, there has been a noticeable drop in the quality of trading packages from a concept stock perspective. The Kings could offer a package that includes: De’Aaron Fox and recent first round picks Davion Mitchell and Keegan Murray† Unfortunately, they are now limited to trading one first-round pick in 2028 or 2029 after trading a first-round pick from 2024 to Altlanta for Kevin Huerter as it is protected until 2026.
The Miami Heat is another team linked to Mitchell, but they are also limited in the quality of their best offerings. A package including: Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herroz† Nikola Jovicoand Gabe Vincent would likely be involved, but they are restricted from trading a first-round pick from 2023 and another in 2028 or 2029.
The Mavericks have a large number of medium-marketable salaries, but have no recent first-round picks except: Josh Green† They could trade two first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 and possibly their first in 2025, as it could be their first available draft pick to trade if the Jazz believe the Mavericks’ obligation to the Knicks before then will show.
The Nets may also make sense because their situation is so fluid, but a trade should definitely include: Ben Simmons due to rules prohibiting teams from fielding two designated rookies they traded for on the same team. Simmons doesn’t necessarily have to go to Utah, but maybe another team could be willing to send them draft assets for Simmons, as the Nets are missing all but two tradable first-round picks.
If the Jazz also traded Mitchell, it would officially be the end of an extremely short-lived era of incredible basketball in Utah. But if Ainge’s history in Boston means anything, extra smart deals for their role player and a focus on design should ensure a promising future in Utah.