Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert's Top Trade Landing Spots After 2022 NBA Draft

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJune 24, 2022

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Donovan Mitchell #45 talks to Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz during the game against the New York Knicks on March 20, 2022 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2022 NBA draft is done, but the roster changes are just getting started this offseason.

Few teams could be in for a bigger overhaul than the Utah Jazz, which already lost head coach Quin Snyder after he stepped down earlier this month following eight seasons.

That left the future of star player Donovan Mitchell in question as well, considering ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the guard was "surprised and disappointed" about the departure of Snyder.

Wojnarowski also described Mitchell as "unsettled, unnerved and wondering what it means for the franchise's future."

Simply running things back with the core of Mitchell and Rudy Gobert probably wouldn't mean a championship in that future. After all, the Jazz did not advance past the second round of the playoffs despite making the postseason in each of Snyder's last six seasons. That includes a second-round loss in 2020-21 when they finished with the best record in the NBA at 52-20.

In addition to the clear ceiling in place, there have been multiple reports of tension between the two star players and no shortage of rumors about whether one or both will be traded.

Sean O'Connell of SiriusXM reported in May that Gobert reached a "him or me" point with Mitchell, while Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported in June that Utah has "been one of the more active teams during early offseason trade conversations."

Fischer noted many of those discussions were about Gobert since "Utah has not entertained rival teams' overtures to steal away All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell."

The big man seems the more likely trade candidate than Mitchell, who is still just 25 years old and a franchise cornerstone under contract through 2024-25 with a player option for 2025-26. He has the offensive skill set to be a go-to option for years to come, while the defensive-minded Gobert is limited on that end of the floor and someone who is ideally surrounded by other elite talent.

That means teams with impressive offensive guards who need help on the defensive side should be seen as the most likely landing spots for Gobert.

Enter the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls.

Fischer mentioned both Eastern Conference squads as teams that were interested in the 29-year-old, and it's not difficult to see why. Chicago has a two-time All-Star big man in Nikola Vucevic it could include in the deal and would immediately bolster the interior defense.

If the Bulls do end up bringing back Zach LaVine, they will need a rim-protector like Gobert since DeMar DeRozan and LaVine are not exactly renowned for their shutdown defense on the wings.

Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso are better known for their defense, but they both dealt with health issues last season and may not be on the floor together as often given the importance of LaVine and DeRozan to the offensive attack.

Chicago also went perimeter with its only pick of Thursday's NBA draft when it selected Arizona's Dalen Terry at No. 18 overall.

Atlanta also has an All-Star on the perimeter who isn't an all-world defender in the shape of Trae Young.

While the 23-year-old can carry the team to victory on any given night with his outside shooting and overall offensive game, the Hawks would be much better with someone like Gobert to help cover for his defensive mistakes.

Like the Bulls, the Hawks didn't load up down low in Thursday's draft either and went with a wing in Duke's AJ Griffin (No. 16).

Atlanta and Chicago are also looking to take another step into the discussion of serious Eastern Conference contenders and could be in "buy" mode with the chance to land a three-time Defensive Player of the Year down low.

As for Mitchell, a pair of Eastern Conference teams also stand out as potential destinations even if the Jazz reportedly aren't interested in trading him.

It was clear throughout the Eastern Conference Finals that Jimmy Butler could use some offensive help if the Miami Heat are going to take the next step and win a championship.

Kyle Lowry is past his prime, and Mitchell would give the Heat a third All-Star-caliber player alongside Butler and Bam Adebayo in the Eastern Conference race.

Elsewhere, the New York Knicks are further from a championship than Miami but could use a star player in a major market desperate for a contender. They also landed multiple picks in draft-day trades that may be used in future moves.

New York has won one playoff series since the 1999-2000 season and took a step back in 2021-22 after reaching the postseason the prior campaign. Mitchell would give the team its best player since Carmelo Anthony and someone who could actually lead it deeper into the playoffs.