NBA

Utah Jazz offseason moves: Why the Jazz decided to trade Rudy Gobert

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When he was introduced last week as the newest member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rudy Gobert was all smiles.

The word excited was used early and often as he tried to explain how he felt about his new situation alongside Karl Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and DeAngelo Russell.

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The longtime jazz center wouldn’t be in Minnesota, however, had Utah executives chosen to keep him.

Three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, multi-time All-Star and All-NBA caliber player, not to mention the face of the Jazz franchise – alongside Donovan Mitchell – players like Gobert don’t move often in the NBA. Especially if they didn’t ask for a trade.

But Gobert was.

Here’s why.

The Minnesota Timberwolves were highly motivated

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards (1) walks past teammate Karl-Anthony Towns during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs Monday, March 14, 2022 in San Antonio.

On Saturday, Jazz general manager Justin Zanik spoke at length about Gobert and Utah’s decision to trade him.

To say that the Jazz didn’t like Gobert would be a lie. His value was immense to the franchise.

“Look, Rudy has long been an incredible cornerstone of our franchise,” Zanik said. “Coming here when he was 21, as he says ‘a kid from France’, I was lucky enough to watch him grow from the very beginning and (he) was a very special part of our franchise.

“Some of these opportunities that arise are difficult. But given the amount of returns and the motivation in Minnesota, it was something that we all had to come together as a group and decide, ‘Hey, is this something we need to do for the organization, while placing Rudy in a very competitive position that I think he deserves.

“It was a group decision and we’re going from there.”

The comeback the Jazz got for Gobert has been well documented. Utah received Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, plus unprotected first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027, a trade pick in 2026, and a top-five protected pick in 2029.

Those many assets, including playoff rotation players (Beasley and Beverley), development prospects (Vanderbilt, Bomaro and Kessler) as well as a wealth of equity, were simply too much for the Jazz to say no.

“There are very few players in the NBA who do the things that Rudy does,” Zanik said. “Minnesota evaluated their own roster and decided they would accomplish a lot of the things they were trying to do as they tried to move forward.

“It’s not like Rudy is growing on trees, and I don’t want to speak for (Minnesota), but they were obviously very, very aggressive trying to add Rudy to their team.

“For us, we value it very highly, but then we got to a point where we ended up with an offer from Minnesota, we had to come together and say, ‘Okay, that’s in the best. interest of the organization.'”

Utah Jazz felt their championship window had closed

Utah Jazz goaltender Donovan Mitchell reacts after missing a 3-pointer in Game 6 of the first round playoff series against Dallas.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell reacts after missing a 3-pointer in Game 6 of the first round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 28. The Mavericks won 98-96.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

It wasn’t just that Minnesota made an offer the Jazz couldn’t refuse. Context matters. If the Jazz had just won an NBA title, Gobert probably wouldn’t have been traded.

Given that the team had just been eliminated in the first round, however – and had not advanced further than the second round in the last three years – Jazz management felt that the championship window had closed. closed.

In their minds, the team didn’t have the ability to improve the lineup around Gobert enough to keep the window open. The Jazz simply did not have the assets to do it.

“It hasn’t been a very fun season this year,” Jazz CEO Danny Ainge said. “The draft was not very fun. Free agency wasn’t much fun. We were over the tax, had no draft picks, and our team lost in the first round. It was not fun for us.

“We want it to be fun for our fans and our players, but we haven’t had a lot of flexibility to do anything lately.

“I agree (that our window had closed),” Ainge continued, with Zanik also expressing agreement. “We talked a lot about these things.”

“Thank you to (Jazz owner) Ryan Smith and the ownership group for giving us the opportunity for the past three years to really spend and give us a shot (at an NBA title),” Zanik said. “The team was not up to it. We fell short. We had to recalibrate and try to open the next window.

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