Quite the crazy July for the Jazz so far, and the NBA for that matter. Rudy gets traded for a value that worked out between both teams, all while escaping the current league wide trade freeze waiting for Kevin Durant to move. The crazier part of it all is that the Jazz are the only team that hasn’t signed a single free agent, something to note is that Juancho is still unsigned which would be pretty cool to see him back on the Jazz. But all the while we are left with random tidbits about Donovan Mitchell through Windhorst (the unexpected MVP of reporters this offseason) that Donovan has questions about the Jazz direction.
Few things on Don. Wow, people got a bit crazy with him after the Rudy trade and seem to be blaming it all on him. Which is dumb first off. But there is blame to be had. Tony Jones has been reporting that if the Jazz didn’t produce some improvement from the previous year’s shortcoming to the Clippers then changes would be made for quite some time. Jones and other reports constantly said that Rudy would set the floor for the Jazz with his unworldly defensive talent and Don’s improvement to a potential All-NBA player would push the Jazz’s ceiling. Don had an incredible start to the year and won the Western Conference Player of the month for December. Then the Jazz had bouts with COVID and, according to the infamous Beat writer Twitter Space, after the GSW game that they blew a fourth quarter lead, Don and most the team gave up. So yeah, there’s some blame there. Hope is not all lost though. The Jazz have the ability to pivot and retool. How though?
Well, the Jazz have been in some form of reported trade talks with Conley, Bogdonovic (been awhile), Clarkson, and all other thirty guards that aren’t named Donovan Mitchell in hopes of landing wings and bigs that can play defense, and shoot three-pointers, and play-make, and have post moves, and get rebounds, and play defense, and play defense. Ok, I think I listed the requirements. If I had to guess the only people safe right now are Jarred Vanderbilt, Jordan Usher, and all the picks the Jazz acquired. I have no proof on this but this is just a conjecture. Note that Don isn’t included in this because of the rebuild that we’ll get to in a minute. So what players are available or should the Jazz go after (players that are most likely available via trade). Mikal Bridges, RoCo, OG Anunoby, John Collins, MPJ, Tobias Harris, Robert Williams III, Onyeka Okongwu, Julius Randle, Myles Turner, Harrison Barnes, Deandre Ayton, and lastly Ben Simmons. I’m omitting players that I don’t think the Jazz could acquire via trade or players that just aren’t available without giving up Donovan Mitchell (i.e. KD). So that’s the availability of the retool. Probably going to have to give up picks or players that the Jazz could to make a trade happen, like Clarkson, Pat Bev, Bojan, Vanderbilt, NAW, or Kessler. Quite the climb.
What about a rebuild, who wants to talk about a rebuild? Donovan is obviously the player that can return the most, finding a team that wants to return players on rookie contracts, picks, and salary filler could be hard. Even harder if you trade Don to a team he wants to go to. If you really want to get maximum return, I would suggest calling the Kings about Donovan. No, they aren’t on the Donovan’s short list of the Heat and Knicks, but Danny Ainge doesn’t care about things like that. The Kings would love to have someone like Donovan. They could finally make the playoffs with Donovan. The Kings could provide equal contract value pretty easily, probably couldn’t supply wings or bigs as easily, but they could definitely provide picks. Boy do King’s picks come in right before guys that are achieve All-NBA. Maybe that means they should trade their picks. Would Danny Ainge do that? He’s got quite the checkered past actually, on one hand he traded back with the sixers swapping Fultz for Tatum, on the other hand he didn’t give Isaiah Thomas a contract extension due to an injury caused by continued play in the playoffs for the Celtics. Damn, he might do that. Let’s talk about other players. Conley seems to be reported as requiring a pick to move, which is how the Jazz got into their current situation so don’t expect that. Clarkson, Pat Bev, and Bojan could each net younger players or picks or a combination. The Jazz will probably have to pay Rudy Gay through his 23-24 player option.
While looking at the Retool vs Rebuild situations, I would like to look at a team that is coming out of a rebuild. OKC. SGA got a max and Lu Dort got a much deserved 5-year deal, then on the side they have Giddey, Tre Mann, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl on contract through the 24-25 season, then Chet Homgren, Ousmane Dieng, and Jalen Williams through the 25-26 season which is the second to last year of SGAs deal and two years from the end of Dorts. Also, they have Poku through the 23-24 season. This is just pure insanity. SGA and Dort are proven players, Giddey looks incredible through one year, Tre Mann and Robinson-Earl have starter/rotation player potential. Chet is looks better in summer league playing next to Giddey rather than Timme, Dieng looks like an intriguing prospect, and Jalen Williams looks like a steal as the 12th pick when he was projected in the fringe lottery and early twenties prior to the draft. Then again, you could mess up all your draft picks and be the Kings.
What would you rather do?