What’s next for Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz after the Rudy Gobert trade?

Las Vegas • Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik has already traded an All-Star. And now that Rudy Gobert is a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, front office executives across the NBA are surely wondering if the Jazz could trade Donovan Mitchell next.

During a press conference here on Saturday, Zanik was asked directly about the possibility: “Is there a possibility that Donovan will be traded or is he considered untouchable in your eyes?”

“I’m not trying to be cryptic or anything, but Donovan is on our list, and he’s a very, very important part of what we’re trying to do,” Zanik said. “You know, things evolve in the NBA, so I couldn’t sit here and say somebody is [untouchable]. You know, we’re trying to build a championship team. But there is no intention there.

No intention, but not exactly closed to possibility.

Still, there are signs the Jazz would rather keep Mitchell. After Gobert’s trade, a league source told the Tribune that more than a handful of teams called the Jazz to inquire about Mitchell’s availability — and the Jazz front office shut them all down. According to the Jazz, those conversations were league executives trying to seize a perceived opportunity to trade for Mitchell cheaply.

Even among previously interested teams, there are no deals that are even close for Mitchell at this point.

However, there is some skepticism among competing teams that the Jazz will keep Mitchell for the long term.

There are essentially two versions of this skepticism. The first is softer: Mitchell and the Jazz are unlikely to be long-term partners as the Jazz no longer care for Mitchell and appear to be well below championship caliber in the short term after moving Gobert. By the time the Jazz “take more steps forward in a few years,” in Wojnarowski’s words, Mitchell’s contract with the Jazz will expire or be about to expire, and he will want to move forward in his career.

In particular, in the medium to long term, Mitchell may want to move on because the Jazz seem to have stopped looking after Mitchell to the extent that they did last offseason. While it’s possible to see Gobert’s departure as a win for Mitchell’s camp, trade friend and contributor Royce O’Neale for a future first-round pick would be an unusual move for a winning organization looking to please. to his franchise star guard.

The same goes for skipping the qualifying offer for respected mentee Trent Forrest and his childhood best friend Eric Paschall. The team also forgot about Mitchell’s former Utah coach, Johnnie Bryant, while hiring Will Hardy as the team’s head coach.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that Mitchell approached the Jazz front office and asked about their plan, to which they replied that they felt the plan was to “do what’s right” for the franchise. .

But Zanik told reporters that in fact, “Don has been very supportive of all the things that we do.”

“He once had a relationship with Coach Hardy of Team USA, so we’ve been in touch with him and his reps, kind of keeping him updated, and we’ll continue to do that,” Zanik said. .

By all accounts, Mitchell hasn’t requested a trade from the Jazz, nor does he plan to do so in the near future.

The second form of skepticism among league executives is that the Jazz front office isn’t looking to trade Mitchell now in order to keep his trade value high — in order to achieve a return equal to or greater than that earned for Gobert.

As Zanik hinted, Mitchell’s status with the Jazz could then be determined by what other teams offer him – if the Jazz got a comeback that made them more likely to be a championship team, they would do.

According to a league source, an offer came from Miami even before the Gobert trade was finalized. The Jazz, however, found this offer insufficient. Additionally, Miami’s winning roster has limited picks and young players to trade.

There’s no upcoming deadline for when more trades might take place — as ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said, there’s no reason for the Jazz to force a trade “this week, next week or even before the season” if they are going to get a bad deal in return. Ainge is famous for timing the market, waiting for the highest return.

All of this means unusual uncertainty in Utah, where almost every player on the roster feels like a possible trade play.

Hardy, the team’s new head coach, said he hasn’t necessarily decided on an offensive philosophy yet because it depends on the players he ends up getting at the start of the season. Although he noted that he had a pre-existing relationship with Mitchell due to the couple’s work on Team USA, Hardy expressed real uncertainty about what his roster might look like in the future:

“I think throughout the process and all of our conversations, Danny, Justin and Ryan, they’ve been very honest about the multiple paths this team could take. And I don’t necessarily have a preference,” Hardy said. “I look forward to partnering with them and together, in whatever direction they decide to go, I trust them and their vision for this organization.”

We know: there are other measures to take. The Jazz have too many guards on this list and a huge lack of depth at small forward and center positions. Regardless of whether Mitchell is among the displaced, there is work to be done.

A 7-foot domino is down, but more are yet to come.

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