Patrick Beverley is a Utah Jazz player. Technically.
He was, indeed, one of the players they acquired in the massive deal that sent Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves. And yes, he’s under contract to the Jazz for one season and $13 million. And unlike some who came before, he hasn’t refused to report or play for the team.
So, then, why “technically”?
Well, a few days ago in Humble, Texas, at his fifth annual “Camp Lockdown” for 6- to 17-year-old kids, Beverley spoke to Houston-based TV reporter Mark Berman about potentially suiting up for the Jazz this coming season. And in explaining his own situation, the defensive-minded guard pretty perfectly encapsulated why the Jazz are in limbo at the moment.
“I don’t know. We’ll see what happens the next couple weeks. There’s a lot going on right now. I don’t know. There’s just a lot going on right now. We’ll see when the dust clears if everything works out in Utah,” Beverley said. “Hopefully it does. Hopefully Donovan Mitchell stays and the team is competitive, and if that’s the case, we’re very excited. If that’s not the case, then, obviously, I’ve been in this league long enough I want to taste how winning a championship feels. We’ll see, though, over the next couple of weeks. We’ll see.”
Until Mitchell’s status with the team is resolved, everything is pretty much in a holding pattern.
After the Gobert deal, the Jazz’s front office was demonstrative in feeding both ESPN and The Athletic the idea that the center’s trade did not portend a full-blown teardown, that there was zero interest in also trading Mitchell, and the team intended to rebuild around the All-Star guard going forward.
However, Gobert’s own suggestion that perhaps the Jazz’s competitive window had closed, along with the admissions from GM Justin Zanik and CEO Danny Ainge that the team “need(s) to recalibrate,” and that not even Mitchell was “untouchable,” and then the subsequent reports about which teams had made offers and even some details of what those offers have consisted of have not exactly quelled the increasing speculation.
Still, negotiations with the Knicks apparently have slowed to a standstill. An offer from the Heat was not enough. None of the other myriad teams interested have thus far offered the haul that Utah’s front office wants in order to part with Mitchell.
And so, a will-they-or-won’t-they sort of nebulous ambivalence has become pervasive in the interim.
Which is why there is not much going on in the way of talk about moving Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, et cetera — all logical moves to make if the team is, in fact, starting over and amassing assets.
Which is also why Beverley is in “We’ll see” mode.
He’s 34 years old. He was drafted in 2009, spent multiple years playing overseas, and now has racked up 10 seasons in the NBA. He was an All-Defensive First Team honoree for the 2016-17 season, and Second Team for 2013-14 and 2019-20.
If the Jazz are going to trade Mitchell, it makes zero sense for Beverley, at this stage of his career, to waste a season with an intentionally noncompetitive team trying to tank its way to a high draft pick. He would be perfectly right to desire the ability to play for a team where he has a legit chance to chase a ring.
If, on the other hand, the Jazz do not find an offer for Mitchell that they like, is there a possibility that they bring back him, Conley, Bogdanovic, and so on, make a few other moves to balance out the roster, and wind up trying to make the playoffs after all?
It seems extremely far-fetched. But it’s plausible. Perhaps just enough so that Beverley’s presence could be useful, filling the role of the perimeter defensive nuisance the team has been lacking for the past several seasons.
The Jazz have many decisions yet to make.
But it seems as though most of them are hinging upon that biggest one of all.