Questions Surrounding The Utah Jazz At The Center Of NBA Free Agency
The NBA offseason is off to a chaotic start. Kevin Durant has requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. The Knicks are reportedly clearing cap space for Jalen Brunson. Kyrie opts in. Harden opts out. However, according to one NBA expert analyst, all eyes should be on the Utah Jazz.
That sounds like a strange thing, at first. Why the Utah Jazz? Why are they relevant right now? Well, we know Quin Snyder opted ti walk away. We know All-Star Donovan Mitchell is going to want out. Rumors have been swirling that Rudy Gobert may be on his way out of Salt Lake City, too. Is that enough to put them at the center of attention in NBA Free Agency when there's all that other stuff going on? There may be more to it than meets the eye, according to Brian Windhorst.
While appearing on ESPN's First Take, Windhorst believes the general public may have missed a minor trade with major implications, but also patterns from the past that we should be connecting the dots on.
On the show, Windhorst says that a trade that seemed small and didn't get much attention could be at the center of everything and show the Utah Jazz's hand. He says that the Jazz trading Royce O'Neale to the Brooklyn Nets for a first-round pick is a bigger deal than we're making it.
Windhorst played it cool while pitching his idea to the co-hosts. Deliberate pauses allowing us and them to think on every word. What could he be getting at? The co-hosts took their guesses. "Make room for Kevin Durant?" He seemed to brush it off. "A three team trade coming?" Didn't seem like the answer either.
He went on to explain that it's very reminiscent of what the Celtics did years ago under the leadership of Danny Ainge, who's now an executive with the Utah Jazz. It wasn't very long ago that Ainge hired first time NBA head coach Brad Stevens to a massive deal. A kind of deal you don't often see going to someone who has never coached in the NBA, despite his success in college basketball.
Right after that, Windhorst points out the Celtics made another major move. The big trade with the Brooklyn Nets where they traded away impactful iconic players Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
The analyst then goes onto emphasize why did Quin Snyder leave? Allowing the viewer to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together themselves. He never truly answers his own question, leaving it to our own interpretation. Personally, adding it all together I feel like he's making it seem like a massive rebuild is coming to the Jazz. It sounds like they're going to go scorched earth. From what he's saying, I'd believe both Mitchell and Gobert are going to be traded away for picks. They're going to start completely from scratch.
I'd say it Snyder left because he doesn't want to be a part of a rebuild. Back when he left, I questioned his motivations and timing. The Lakers were rumored to have interest in him, why didn't he pursue that? Something was off with Snyder's situation and it never felt right. Maybe, now we're learning more about what caused him to walk. That's what the pattern would tell you from what Windhorst is saying and Ainge's history.
Take a look at the video for yourself and see what you think. He's being very coy, but it sounds like something big is going on behind the scenes in Salt Lake City. Regardless, one of the smallest markets in the league has all of our eyes on it right now. This is going to be a big offseason for a franchise that has has impressive regular seasons lately, but just lacked success in the playoffs when it mattered.
Is it time for a rebuild? It's unfortunate but it might have to be. If Mitchell truly wants out for a destination like Miami or New York, and has no plans on staying in SLC, you have to sell as high as you can. That time is probably now. The team had some great records in the regular season but couldn't pull off victories in the playoffs. They couldn't get over the hump. Now, they're unlikely to give it another go with that same core. It seems like the time has come.
Not all is lost for the Jazz, however. It could be a good time for a rebuild, although fans never want to hear that. There are some generational talent coming up in future drafts and they could land a one of a kind talent. Or strike out completely. Only time will tell.
For more on the Utah Jazz and their wild 2022 offseason, keep scrolling!