Western Rumors: Mitchell, Payton II, Lillard, Bryant

Rudy Gobert‘s impending trade to Minnesota, in which Utah will receive multiple unprotected first-round picks, and a separate trade sending Royce O’Neale to Brooklyn for another first-round pick, could be seen as an indication that the Jazz might be rebuilding.

In an appearance on NBA Today, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said (video link from Talkin’ NBA) the league is preparing for Jazz star Donovan Mitchell to request a trade, noting that O’Neale was one of Mitchell’s closest friends on the team.

If you’re Donovan Mitchell and you see two trades like this that are designed to save more than $100MM and get first-round draft picks, that doesn’t inspire confidence,” Windhorst said. “And talking to league executives who saw some of this coming, they think it would be abnormal for Donovan to not want out at this point.

Now, they obviously have the option to use these assets to trade something to put around Donovan, and that may be what they’re trying to sell him on. But right now, there are teams out there that are revving up the possibility of calling Utah and seeing what it’s going to take to get Donovan Mitchell, because they’re not going to be done. This is not a team that needs Mike Conley. This is not a team that needs Bojan Bogdanovic. This is not a team that needs Rudy Gay. All of these guys who have long-term money who have value to other places, I would suspect, are going to potentially be on the trade market and the Jazz are going to get calls.”

When the Gobert news broke, both ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tony Jones of The Athletic said the Jazz planned to retool the roster around Mitchell rather than move him.

However, Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune hears (Twitter links) that it’s not a lock that the Jazz will keep Mitchell, saying there’s been some “push back” on those reports. The Jazz plan to keep their options open for all possibilities, according to Larsen, who notes that Mitchell could be a fallback option for the Heat if they’re unable to land Kevin Durant.

Here are a few more rumors from the Western Conference:

  • A source tells Sam Amick of The Athletic that both Stephen Curry and Draymond Green pitched Gary Payton II on sticking with the Warriors, but Golden State’s reported offer — two years for about taxpayer mid-level exception money — was substantially less than he received from the Trail Blazers (three years, $28MM). Losing Payton will surely sting for the Warriors, as he was a fan favorite and an excellent defender, Amick observes.
  • As Amick relays, it was assumed that Damian Lillard would be a lock to sign a two-year, max extension shortly after free agency opened, which has yet to transpire. The deadline won’t pass until the start of the regular season, but Lillard may still needs some convincing to sign the deal, a source tells Amick, who says the star guard wanted the Blazers to have a strong offseason to prove they could build a contender around him. According to Amick, adding Payton will surely help matters. Not only does the team need perimeter defense, which Payton provides, but there are a couple other ties between the two players. Payton’s father, Hall-of-Famer Gary Payton, has been a mentor to Lillard, and all three are represented by agent Aaron Goodwin.
  • Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times hears (via Twitter) from sources that the Lakers are very interested in a reunion with center Thomas Bryant, who is an unrestricted free agent. However, the Lakers can only offer a veteran minimum deal, so Bryant is in search of a better offer. The Raptors are also pursuing Bryant, per Turner.
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