With the Utah Jazz ending in disappointing fashion after just six games of play against the Dallas Mavericks, you knew this was going to happen. There would be obituaries, there would be recaps, and most of all there would be tasty rumors.
The franchise from Salt Lake City just flopped for the sixth time in a row, the fourth with Donovan Mitchel already in tow, and the third in the last four years falling short of advancing even just one round. Ugh. All of that, of course, while boasting a near-Rookie of the Year who has turned into a superstar and a perennial Defensive Player of the Year contender.
So the questions were always going to come, and more than any other one very precise one after a never-ending circle of failure: what’s next for Utah and the Mitchell/Gobert core by extension?
The Athletic’s Tony Jones—Utah’s beat writer—is reporting multiple bits of information (paywall) that the site got access to from sources close to the franchise. Jones broke it all down in an easy-to-digest Q&A format, so allow me to cover the most pressing topics he discussed through it next:
On the roster undergoing changes: There will be changes, and Jones points out at least a couple of starters getting entirely off the rotation, and most probably the franchise entirely.
On a potential teardown: No luck here for the presumably interested Knicks. Not in Utah’s plans for now, though there is still a chance... although most probably that means Rudy Gobert is the man getting traded. The Jazz want to keep building around Donovan Mitchell—which makes total sense, don’t be naïve as you’d do the same.
On Rudy Gobert’s possible trades: Not at a similar level as Mitchell, Gobert is still quite valued by the Jazz. I don’t need sources to guarantee you that. I mean: most rebounds in 2020 and 2021; most RPG in 2022; most BPG in 2017; highest FG% in 2019, 2021, and 2022; [...rest of a very long list of statistical accolades here...], and of course DPOY in 2018, 2019, and 2021. I don’t need to introduce you to Rudy, is what I’m saying.
Gobert is a veteran and will play next season already at the wrong side of 30. That shouldn’t rule him entirely out of trade discussions and/or a high rank in the value chart of most potential bidders. This guy is a big man, and they’d tell you big men are tired while wings and guards are wired. Yeah, right, #thisleague. Gobert is a goddamn machine in the paint, full stop. Don’t buy the narrative. You won’t get any better big boy out there with his franchise willing to move him. It is what it is.
All of the above sounds ominous for the New York Knicks' prospects of bringing Donovan Mitchell back home after spending five years in hella cold Utah. In all honesty, it sucks. Think about it for more than a second, though, and it might be better for all parts involved if everything stays the same.
Mitchell is not coming to New York in exchange for peanuts. The Jazz transactions are now manned by a certain Danny Ainge, and you know Danny Ainge as the man who broke the Brooklyn Nets with a trade that keeps on giving almost 10 years later. If we’re going to be forced into trading RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Mitchell Robinson, and a bunch of draft picks on top of that, not to mention the roof at MSG, you can start forgetting about getting that deal done, folks.
I don’t want to get back to the Nets and that ill-advised trade, nor the even worse-looking and ongoing situation around BKN where a certain couple of players were acquired in exchange for an already-in-place culture that, well, let’s say is nowhere to be found these days—so much so, that Ben Simmons is even embodying that “Error: Not Found” attitude himself.
Most interestingly, and in a second piece for The Athletic, it is Knicks’ reporter Fred Katz who answers a bunch of reader questions (paywall), including one wondering if there is any interest by the Knicks FO in Rudy Gobert.
Katz doesn’t confirm nor deny the interest when it comes to mentioning sources, yet he offers his two cents about that potential interest. The verdict: he’s intrigued about it all, but more as a dreamy scenario in which Gobert ultimately gets moved to places like Dallas (to play along with Luka Doncic) or Charlotte (same with LaMelo Ball) given the big-man skill set.
As the reporter sees it for the Knicks, though, he thinks Gobert could cause more trouble than anything. It’s reasonable, considering Gobert’s onerous $170M+ deal with Utah and the most-probably asking price the Jazz put over his head. There would be players, youngsters, prospects, pics, and whatever you can imagine going the other way. Again: an easy no-no for me.
The Knicks’ fans and savvy observers have been complaining about Mitchell Robinson’s paint-clogging ways and how those murdered the upside of other players like Julius Randle and mostly RJ Barrett. And you’re telling me the Knicks are bringing Gobert in? Give me a break.
If you’re reading this, dear Knicks, do the right thing and sit tight for a while. Give it some pause. Attend the draft lottery, and pray for a top-3 lucky bounce. Then, go from there. It makes no sense to lose your collective head over the delusional, taxing, irrecoverable tragedy that trading for Mitchell would bring to NYC.