The Utah Jazz moved one of the best players in franchise history earlier this week, sending Rudy Gobert to Minnesota for role players and four first-round picks. With those picks, the Jazz could return some players at the trade deadline for more draft capital and consider a rebuild, or they could use the picks to get a winning player now.
With a backcourt of Patrick Beverly, Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson, the Jazz need to strengthen their frontcourt if they want to compete in a busy Western conference. With Gobert out, they have a few options to experiment with in the middle. We think of Walker Kessler and Udoka Azubuike, but they are not real NBA players. For more instant impact, Utah will have to shop around a bit. Fortunately, they have the assets to do so.
Jazz take a hit but get a starting cross
At the cost of salary space and a single first-round pick, the Utah Jazz could add the league’s second-best version of Rudy Gobert. San Antonio’s Jakob Poeltl isn’t quite Gobert’s defender, but he plays a similar game.
2023 1st round pick via MIN
Yes, Utah should drop Bojan Bogdanovic and Rudy Gay, but their return would be Doug McDermott and Tre Jones. McDermott and Bogdanovic are almost clones of each other, but San Antonio is trying to free up space for next season. McDermott is contracted for two seasons and Bogdanovic for one, so Spurs get what they want here.
To compensate for taking over McDermott’s contract, the Jazz obtain a defensive stallion, Tre Jones. Jones is one of the best pure defensive point guards in the league, but people don’t know him because he played behind Dejounte Murray. Jones is not a scorer, but an excellent ball handler who does not return the rock.
Jones and Clarkson would pair up greatly as the second unit after Beverly and Mitchell. Two similar units, opposing offensive and defensive, would never get a break.
The real blow for Utah is the loss of a 2023 first-round pick. Luckily, the Jazz have their own, Brooklyn’s, and Minnesota’s, so dropping one shouldn’t hurt the team too much. . Given the trajectory of all three teams, there’s no way a pick will end up in the lottery, so to simplify things, I’ll say Utah sends the Timberwolves pick to San Antonio.
The end result of this exchange? A solid center to pair with All-Star Donovan Mitchell, a precision forward on a slightly worse contract than Bogdanovic, and an excellent playmaker, indeed for a washed-up vet and a late first-round pick. I say it’s a clear win, and Spurs are in the right position to pull the trigger.