When it comes to seismic offseason shifts in the NBA, all eyes have been focused on Utah. League sources have told NBC Sports they expect the Jazz to break up the Rudy Gobert/Donovan Mitchell tandem and retool on the fly around one of those stars, most likely Mitchell.
But if everyone expects that is the move, then Utah’s trade leverage weakens.
Enter a new report from Jake Fischer at Bleacher Report about how the Jazz are not just looking to blow things up and could run it back next season to make it likely they have multiple All-Stars the year they host the midseason showcase.
Much of the leaguewide conversation regarding the potential split of three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell seems to have been generated by NBA actors outside of the Jazz franchise.
The 2023 NBA All-Star Game will be in Salt Lake City, a detail that multiple league sources connected to the Jazz have painted as a critical element of the franchise’s future plans. It’s of great importance to Jazz governor Ryan Smith that Utah has multiple players in that midseason classic, sources said, similar to how the Cavaliers were represented by both Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen during the 2022 affair in Cleveland.
A few thoughts on this, in bullet point form for clarity’s sake.
• It’s not just outside actors. People close to the Jazz — including tapped-in beat writers — have said Utah management understands the Gobert/Mitchell era has run its course and it’s time to move on.
• It’s also more likely than people realize the Jazz do run it back. It’s not that Danny Ainge will not take a look at offers for Gobert — the Jazz will not trade Mitchell unless he demands it — but if the offers are lowball he will pass on them and wait out the market.
• As noted above, this all feels like the Utah front office working to gain leverage. “We’re not that interested in trading everyone, so don’t come at me with those lowball offers.” The Jazz may move on from role players such as Mike Conley or Bojan Bogdanovic in trades that help shake up the team’s chemistry.
• Having multiple All-Stars when Utah hosts the game is a real thing. That said, this leak felt like an “if you want to trade for one of our All-Stars, guess what we want back” kind of message.
• Fischer reports Quin Snyder likely returns as coach. That was always the most probable option, partly because he is under contract and isn’t just going to walk away, partly because it’s believed the job he really wants is to replace Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, whenever Pop chooses to walk away.