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The Utah Jazz made a big statement today in free agency

The Utah Jazz waived Juancho Hernangomez and didn’t extend qualifying offers to Eric Paschall and Trent Forrest and it means more than you think

2022 NBA Playoffs - Dallas Mavericks v Utah Jazz Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s been a relatively quiet day for the Utah Jazz this free agency. Aside from trading Royce O’Neale, the only thing that has really been of not has been the players they’ve moved on from.

But the waiving of Juancho Hernangomez and decision to not extend a qualifying offer to Eric Paschall and Trent Forrest is interesting because it’s indicative of a new direction for the Jazz.

For the longest while, we’ve seen the Jazz seemingly make moves, or not make moves to make Donovan Mitchell as happy as possible. They completed a trade last offseason for Eric Paschall that was seemingly to make Donovan Mitchell happy. Although he had moments last season, even having a moment in the playoffs where he brought great energy and a near comeback against the Mavericks, Paschall spent most of the season on the bench. Looking back, it certainly seems like it was a move to make Mitchell happier in Utah. Now, he’s going to play elsewhere after not receiving a qualifying offer.

The other move that’s interesting is trading Royce O’Neale for a 1st round pick. In a vacuum, it’s a great move. O’Neale was a great story for the Jazz coming from Europe after being undrafted and becoming a starter. The Jazz have successfully converted an undrafted player into a 1st round pick, pretty great. But it’s also interesting because O’Neale was a close friend of Mitchell’s on the team.

Finally, the Jazz did not extend a qualifying offer to Trent Forrest either. And what do we know about Forrest? He’s a player that’s pretty close to Donovan Mitchell. Here he is just a few days ago with Mitchell at Louisville.

Now, this could all just be coincidental. The Jazz are over the cap and moving on from these players will help clear cap space.

But it’s hard to ignore the fact that they didn’t keep at least one of them. Would they have made moves like this a year ago? I think not. Last season was an incredibly tumultuous season for the Jazz with all sorts of locker room turmoil. There’s likely stories we have no idea about, but it really feels like the Jazz are making it clear with these moves that they are going to do what’s best for the team, not just one specific player with these moves. And it’s the right move.

Yes, Donovan Mitchell is a star, an electric scorer with a fantastic personality and someone that’s easy to root for. But it’s also clear he is looking beyond Utah now. Maybe just once he could squash a rumor about New York, or Miami, or LA. Just once? At a certain point when player sends a message you have to listen to it, and that’s what it looks like the Jazz have done.

It doesn’t mean they don’t continue to build around Donovan Mitchell, which is a viable path the Jazz can decide to take this offseason, but it does mean that they are controlling the future of the team and not making moves solely to make one player happy. This quote from Will Hardy, the Jazz’s new head coach, summarizes perfectly what the Jazz appear to be doing. (h/t @colecisne on twitter)

@colecisne on twitter

This offseason, so far, has lived up to that quote. No one is more important than the entirety of the team and the Jazz are going to be better for it.