In the latest episode of his Hoop Collective podcast (video link), ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said people around the league still believe Donovan Mitchell will be traded, despite reports that the Jazz plan to retool around the All-Star guard following the Rudy Gobert blockbuster. His ESPN colleague Tim MacMahon agrees.
“I don’t think he’s on the roster when the season starts,” MacMahon said. “Maybe he is. I’d be shocked if he’s on the roster after the trade deadline.”
Tony Jones of The Athletic, who – along with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski – reported following the Gobert trade agreement that the Jazz don’t intend to move Mitchell, reiterated on Friday night that the team is “not amenable” to trading the former Louisville star. The plan is for Mitchell to be with the team for the start of the 2022/23 season, Jones says.
However, Jones added a caveat: If Utah receives an offer that’s similar in scale to the Gobert package, “it will be hard not listen.” Jones also notes that the Jazz will need to ensure they have Mitchell’s buy-in before committing to building the roster around him.
Mitchell and Gobert never seemed to be on the best of terms, so Mitchell may not view the Gobert trade unfavorably, especially if the front office is committed to flipping some of the assets from that package for win-now help.
Still, the team just hired a first-time head coach (Will Hardy) on a five-year contract and may be moving on from three of Mitchell’s best friends on the roster (Royce O’Neale was traded to Brooklyn, while Eric Paschall and Trent Forrest became unrestricted free agents after not receiving qualifying offers). So there will have to be conversations between the Jazz and the 25-year-old guard, Jones writes.
Here’s more on the Jazz:
- In initial negotiations between the Jazz and Timberwolves for Gobert, Utah was insisting on the inclusion of forward Jaden McDaniels, but Minnesota refused, according to Jones. That’s one reason why the package of draft picks (three unprotected first-rounders, a top-five protected first-rounder, and a swap) was so substantial — the Wolves preferred to give up extra draft assets rather than surrender McDaniels.
- The Jazz’s front office viewed Gobert’s super-max contract as a “hindrance,” sources tell Jones. The big man is owed a guaranteed $123MM over the next three seasons and has a $46.7MM player option for 2025/26, so moving that contract creates significant cap flexibility for Utah going forward.
- The Jazz are “not even close” to finished with their offseason, according to Jones, who says a logjam in the backcourt will need to be cleared. In addition to Mitchell, Utah still has guards Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker , Jared Butler, and Leandro Bolmaro.
- Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune breaks down the return the Jazz got for Gobert, making a case that all 10 pieces headed to Utah can be viewed as assets (as opposed to filler).