As the Utah Jazz stumble toward the playoffs — losing five in a row recently — a favorite gossip topic around the NBA is just how far new team president Danny Ainge will go in blowing things up this offseason. If Utah is bounced in the first round of the playoffs — a real possibility against Dallas or Golden State — is GM Justin Zanik out? Coach Quin Snyder?
The conventional wisdom is the roster will be overhauled as well, with the Jazz retooling around Donovan Mitchell (whether Mitchell will want to stay or try to force his way out is a different topic). There is speculation that the Jazz will test the trade market for All-Star center and defensive anchor Rudy Gobert.
Who would be interested? On The Lowe Post podcast Friday, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said the Dallas Mavericks would “have significant interest” in such a trade. When Zach Lowe speculated about who might be interested — Charlotte needs a center, would they like him paired with LaMelo Ball? — MacMahon also said he heard Toronto would have interest.
Gobert is an elite player and the best defensive center in the league, but he doesn’t fit every team and every system. On offense, he’s a big who sets a huge screen and is a very good roll man heading to the rim, but he doesn’t space the floor and needs to be paired with an elite pick-and-roll ball-handler (which is why Dallas and Luka Doncic makes some sense). On defense, he can switch a little and hold his own on the perimeter, but he’s much better off in a drop-back system that keeps him near the rim protecting the paint. He wouldn’t fit in the Celtics’ switching system the way Robert Williams does, for example.
Gobert also would have four years and $169.7 million left on his contract, a very rich deal to take on.
Which is to say, there would be genuine interest in a Gobert trade around the league, but there would be a limited number of teams lined up, and that lack of demand would reduce the return for Utah.
Whether Ainge and Utah would even make Gobert available is a matter of speculation. It is possible the Jazz will regain their footing, get a favorable first-round matchup and go on a run in the playoffs that has the Jazz front office wanting to largely run things back.
But that’s not what people are speculating about around the NBA. Instead, the question is just how far the Jazz will go in their overhaul.