HomeSportsUtah Jazz wanted a big comeback for trading All-Star Rudy Gobert, and...

Utah Jazz wanted a big comeback for trading All-Star Rudy Gobert, and they got it

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been interested in trading for Rudy Gobert for a few weeks now, league sources say Athleticism. They had come to the conclusion that they needed a real rim protector. They knew the Jazz were ready to leave their All-Star center. They knew that several teams were inquiring about him.

They also knew that Jazz CEO Danny Ainge and Jazz General Manager Justin Zanik were patient. They were going to wait for the right deal.

That deal was made on Friday afternoon, the second day of free agency. It became a blockbuster. Gobert, one of the greatest players in Jazz franchise history, heads to Minnesota for a dynamite package including young players Walker Kessler and Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Leandro Bolmaro, four first-round picks – including three unprotected – and a first-round pick among the top five protected in 2029.

For a while, it was doubted that this trade would take place.

Sources say the Jazz initially insisted the Timberwolves include small forward Jaden McDaniels in the package. And it’s for good reason. McDaniels is one of the real up-and-coming two-way small forwards in the league, the kind every team tries to find. Minnesota didn’t want to include it.

So, according to the sources, the package of picks the Timberwolves were willing to part ways with has grown significantly. Ultimately, the Jazz walk away with two young players, Kessler and Vanderbilt, who they believe they can develop, as well as a set of picks and players the Jazz can use to revamp a stagnant roster on the fly.


Auburn’s Walker Kessler was the 22nd pick in the 2022 NBA draft and is a player the Jazz believe they can develop. (John Reed / USA Today)

The Jazz know they’re turning Minnesota into a Western Conference contender with the trade. Gobert is likely to be a Hall of Famer. He is a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He is a four-time All-Star and a four-time All-NBA Pick. He and Karl-Anthony Towns will instantly form one of the best frontcourts in the league. When you add Anthony Edwards, the Timberwolves have a great line that can rival almost anyone.

The deal makes the Timberwolves a great team on paper, and the Jazz know they helped make it happen.

At the same time, according to the sources, the Jazz saw Gobert’s super-max contract as an obstacle. Utah’s current core hit its peak as a second-round playoff team, and Ainge figured they had to move Gobert to break free. Other teams were interested, and other packages were available. Once Minnesota’s offer grew to a first-four, trade-in pick, plus Kessler, whom the Timberwolves drafted 22nd overall in the first round of the 2022 draft, the Jazz believed it was time to move on. McDaniels or no McDaniels.

The question for the Jazz: Where do they go from here?

Some things are clear. The Jazz aren’t even close to finishing their offseason. Utah has Beverley, Beasley, Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Bolmaro, Jared Butler and Nickeil Alexander-Walker all embedded in their backcourt squad. Obviously, some of these players need to be moved. You cannot have eight playable guards on a team.

The Jazz, according to league sources, are not ready to trade Mitchell. They want to build around their star, and they want to do it on the fly. The obvious caveat: if Ainge and Zanik get an offer from a team that’s approaching the scale of the Gobert trade, it’ll be hard not to listen. But, for now, the plan is for Mitchell to be with the Jazz before next season.

How competitive will Utah be? This is a question that will be resolved as the offseason progresses. The Jazz have taken multiple avenues, which is good news for their fan base. Utah can tear it down, trade Mitchell for another loot, and have perhaps the best asset base of anyone in the league other than Oklahoma City. Or, because their return from the Gobert trade is so important, they can flip their veterans and take a more winning approach now.

Building around Mitchell requires buy-in, so internal conversations will need to happen. Keep in mind that Mitchell’s three closest teammates from last season — Royce O’Neale, Eric Paschall and Trent Forrest — were either traded or are in unrestricted free agency because the Jazz didn’t feature a match. qualification offer. Utah just hired a new head coach, Will Hardy, and the Western Conference is looking like a bear.

As it stands, for Utah to be in playoff contention next season, Mitchell will have to be the best version of himself. Jazz’s front office can certainly help this situation over the next few weeks, depending on what it does with the roster by the end of July. Even though it’s a rebuild, the team has so many strengths that the process doesn’t need to be long.

Utah has three first-round picks for the 2023 NBA draft. The team is expected to have multiple first-round picks in 2025, 2027, and 2029. The Jazz were drawn to what the Timberwolves offered because of the protections. Three of the first are unprotected. In 2027, Gobert’s current deal will be off Minnesota’s books. So almost half of the trade will be executed when Gobert is no longer with the Timberwolves or is a much older player.

The Jazz just weren’t going to drop Gobert for pennies on the dollar. Even by those standards, Utah did well on this deal. And because of that, the Jazz have the ability to move in any direction they choose.

(Rudy Gobert top photo: Chris Nicoll/USA Today)

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