The Utah Jazz made a franchise-altering decision late last week, deciding to break up their All-Star duo Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Gobert will be the one leaving after Utah chose to trade him to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Jazz will receive four first-round picks and rookie Walker Kessler, who was taken 22nd overall in 2022, in exchange for Gobert. The package includes unprotected first-rounders in 2023, 2025, and 2027 as well as a top-5 protected first-round selection in 2029. In addition, the Jazz will also take on Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Leandro Bolmaro to match the outgoing salary.
The decision to send Gobert out of town was reportedly under consideration for a while among the Jazz top executives. The relationship between the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and Mitchell has been strained for a while, and the duo’s performances on the floor didn’t justify keeping them together. Now the Jazz has the flexibility to change things around and perhaps surround Mitchell with players that better suit his style.
However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Mitchell departed the franchise as well. With Boston Celtics’ assistant Will Hardy set to take over as head coach, the Jazz might opt for a full rebuild in hopes of putting together a championship contender down the road. Utah made the playoffs six times in a row but never progressed past the Conference Semifinals.
Rudy Gobert finished the 2021-22 season averaging 15.6 points while leading the league in rebounds with 14.7 rebounds and also adding 2.1 blocks. Gobert is also arguably the best defender in the NBA and a rim-protector that Timbervolwes were desperate for. However, it remains to be seen whether his arrival moves the needle for Minnesota enough to transform them from a team that barely made the playoffs last season to a perennial contender in years to come.