[2:30 p.m. on Friday: read Jazz trade Rudy Gobert to Timberwolves]
“Why would the Jazz do that?”
That’s the question Brian Windhorst repeatedly threw out on ESPN’s First Take today. “Why would the Jazz do that?”
Why would the Jazz do … what?
Trade Royce O’Neale to the Nets for a future first-round pick?
He might have also asked, “Why would the Nets do that?”
He said the entire NBA was/is waiting to find out what is going on in Utah.
Because … something’s going on.
Windhorst’s unspoken insinuation was that the Jazz are up to something big.
He made the comparison between what Danny Ainge did in Boston — when he hired first-time NBA head coach Brad Stevens to a long-term contract and traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce — to whatever it is Ainge is doing in Utah, after Quin Snyder left and first-time head coach Will Hardy was signed to a … yeah, long-term contract.
Would Ainge have the cojones to duplicate the other part of his action with the Celtics, namely trade both Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell? And rebuild with whatever he could get in return, be it draft picks or new-to-this-market stars?
A 7-foot domino fell Friday afternoon when the Jazz agreed to a trade that sends Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves. But in the wake of the Gobert news, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was quick to report that the Jazz plan to retool around Mitchell.
Still, is there another big move to come?
Danny Freakin’ Ainge.
Never doubt a man who once bit Tree Rollins’ finger during a game. (I know, I know, it was Rollins who bit Ainge, but nobody seems to remember it that way.)
Why would the Jazz do that? On Friday, the executives around the league were doing what they never do, what no one around the NBA does — paying close attention to, having a deep interest in, waiting to see what would happen in Utah.
But something had to — and has to — happen because the Jazz sent packing all their wings, which is the most-coveted position in all of basketball now.
With the Gobert trade, in comes Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt and a whole bunch of draft picks.
If the Jazz are actually interested in winning, they still need more athletic shooters/defenders. That’s not optional at the top end of today’s NBA. It’s a must-have.
If Ainge and the Jazz are truly retooling around Mitchell, they also suddenly have a giant hole at center — and a big move will be needed.
Another question, though, is how will Jazz fans react if the team goes into rebuild mode? If it doesn’t go into full rebuild mode, how will they react to a major rearrangement? To new stars? To a new style of play?
That’s a much bigger deal than changing the team’s colors, and everybody saw how that went over.
Did Ainge take a look at what was happening here and decide there is no way forward for the Jazz with the combination of Mitchell and Gobert? All of those early-round playoff losses being his evidence? Did he not like the vibe, the team culture, the attitude or ability of his top guys, especially as the team was in the luxury realm?
What’s going on in Utah?
Something. That’s the most complete answer anybody has right now.
With Gobert’s departure, it’s something big. Maybe something franchise-altering.
Windhorst’s monologue went on for two minutes, everyone around the table captivated by his question(s). If you haven’t seen that clip, check it out online.
Every Jazz fan should see it. And wonder about the mystery, just like team executives all around the league.
Why would the Jazz do that?
Better to wonder about them than to ignore them.
And for the first time in a long time, the focus is here.