Within their Thursday press release officially confirming the trade that sent Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland, the Jazz‘s top decision-makers explained why they felt it was necessary to move the club’s leading scorer, a three-time All-Star who just turned 26.
“It was clear that in order to optimize our opportunity to create a team that could truly contend and establish sustained success, we needed to transition our roster,” Jazz CEO Danny Ainge said in a statement. “In trading Rudy (Gobert) and now Donovan, it was a rare opportunity to maximize our ability to get quality talent and picks to best position us moving forward. We have a plan in place to help us assemble the championship team our fans deserve. It will take time to craft our roster. We all understand the work ahead and are committed to our vision.”
General manager Justin Zanik, meanwhile, referred to Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, and Ochai Agbaji as three “exciting young players,” suggesting the front office views the trio as part of the Jazz’s long-term plan.
“We believe that they fit the Jazz culture and hard-nosed, competitive brand of basketball we’ve built here in Utah,” Zanik said. “They give us versatility and athleticism on both ends of the floor as we grow toward the future. We look forward to our fans getting to know them.”
Here’s more out of Utah:
- Previous reports suggested there was some level of “animus” between the Jazz and Knicks, due in part to Knicks executives sitting courtside at Utah’s first playoff game vs. Dallas in the spring, as well as to New York’s decision to extend RJ Barrett while the two teams were negotiating his possible inclusion in a Mitchell trade. However, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his Lowe Post podcast that any hard feelings between the Jazz and the Knicks weren’t the reason why Utah made a deal with Cleveland instead of New York.
- “Emotions can play into this,” Lowe said, per RealGM. “I’ve been assured by the Utah side that ‘No, look, we’re mature people. Yes, we were upset with particularly the Mavs’ game incident, but we’re not going to make decisions based on those kind of things that now happened four months ago or whatever. We’ve made the best deal possible.'”
- In a column for The Salt Lake Tribune, Robert Gehrke focuses on the off-court impact of the Mitchell trade, arguing that Utah has lost a “conscience of our community.”
- Nekias Duncan of BasketballNews.com considers what Mike Conley can still bring to a contending team and explores which clubs might be realistic trade suitors for the veteran point guard. Meanwhile, Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune weighs where Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Jordan Clarkson could land if they’re traded.
- The Salt Lake City Stars – Utah’s G League affiliate – acquired the returning rights to Paris Bass and Elijah Cain in a trade with the South Bay Lakers, per a press release. Bass is reportedly signing an Exhibit 10 deal with the Jazz, so the team clearly intends to have him play for the Stars — it remains to be seen whether Cain is also in SLC’s plans for 2022/23.