How ’Bout This Jazz newsletter: One NBA observer says the Jazz had the best offseason of any Western team

Plus, Richard Jefferson argues the Knicks would be crazy not to trade whatever the Jazz want for Donovan Mitchell, while ex-Jazz forward Royce O’Neale and his mom go viral.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale (23) as the Utah Jazz host the Memphis Grizzlies, NBA basketball in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

To say that the Utah Jazz’s offseason has been polarizing thus far would be an understatement.

Some fans, while disappointed to see the team broken up, understand the approach of tearing it down and acquiring the pieces to try and ultimately build it up even higher. Others simply can’t come to grips with the reality of trading away Rudy Gobert and the for-now theoretical idea of trading away Donovan Mitchell — two perennial All-Stars in their prime under team control for several more seasons.

It’s not just proximity to the team that makes this plan so divisive, either. Even various ESPN analysts are in disagreement on the merits of it.

In a recent piece for ESPN+, Kevin Pelton assigned offseason grades for every Western Conference team, and gave the Jazz an A, the top grade in the West, much to the consternation of “NBA Today” analysts Dave McMenamin and Kendrick Perkins.

Pelton appeared on the show to defend his argument, saying:

“It’s just a long-term outlook. If you look at where the Jazz were coming off that loss to Dallas in the first round — no [2022] draft pick, out several future draft picks, into the luxury tax in terms of their payroll — it was going to be really difficult for them to improve,” he said. “So I think it was the right time for them to rebuild. And when you look at what they got — not just for Gobert, but for Royce O’Neale, trading him to the Brooklyn Nets — if you would have said before the offseason, ‘OK, they’re going to trade these guys and rebuild,’ maybe they’ll get a couple of first-round picks, maybe even three. To instead get five — three of them unprotected — plus a swap, plus the rights to Walker Kessler who just got drafted in the first round, it’s a historic, unbelievable haul.

“Obviously, in the short term, yeah, they’re tanking,” he concluded. “But in the long run, I think they’re much better positioned for future success than if they’d tried to ride this out for a few more years.”

Obviously it’s debatable if that means they had a better offseason than every other West team, but it’s frankly hard to argue with his logic of why they’ve done what they have.

Richard Jefferson implores the Knicks to trade for Donovan

There’s been much consternation in both SLC and NYC about the stalled Donovan trade talks between the Jazz and Knicks, with both sides apparently entrenched for now on the cost. Utah remains in a holding pattern.

Former player and current ESPN analyst Richard Jefferson just appeared on the New York-based “Bad Weather Fans” podcast and pretty vociferously argued the Knicks should do whatever it takes to meet Danny Ainge’s asking price and acquire him.

“No one’s going to come to New York to play — currently, currently, right now — with R.J. Barrett. Currently. I’m not saying that this can’t progress. People will go play with Donovan Mitchell. People will be like, ‘Oh if he’s there, OK, listen, I’ll go team up with that guy,” Jefferson said.

When queried about Knicks’ fans concerned with giving up the likes of Quentin Grimes or Obi Toppin or Immanuel Quickley, R-Jeff was dismissive: “Knick fans are like, ‘We can’t give up everything!’ You don’t have anything.”

“The Knicks, if you have a chance to get Donovan Mitchell, you get Donovan Mitchell.”

Royce and Miss Deb go viral

Royce O’Neale’s mom, Deborah Kingwood, has been a popular figure within Jazz Nation for maintaining an active social media presence, where she’s affectionately known as “Miss Deb.”

Our first Twitter interaction came when I suggested Royce might be assessed a flagrant foul, and Miss Deb, who felt Royce had been the victim of some hard fouls without me advocating for him, was candid in her assessment of my analysis: “You can miss me with that.”

A mere six months later, we were on far better terms. With the Jazz playing the Rockets in Royce’s home state of Texas, I got a tweet from Miss Deb, asking if I was “rocking the pink [dress] shirt.” I was. She was seated in the family area one section over, but made it a point to come over to me and give me a big hug.

The point is, everyone Jazz-affiliated who ever interacted with Miss Deb developed some affection for her.

Which is what made the recent viral video of her guarding Royce (and the aftermath of it) at his summer camp in Harker Heights, Texas simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.

I can’t stop watching. And I can’t stop laughing. And I’m glad that she’s alright. And I’m glad that she’s promised to keep following me on Twitter.