We are slowly beginning to learn what the Utah Jazz were thinking when they traded star center Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, and it appears the franchise had an issue with his contract.
The Jazz viewed Rudy Gobert's five-year, $205 million supermax contract through the 2025-26 season "as a hindrance," according to The Athletic's Tony Jones.
"Utah’s current core reached its peak as a second-round playoff team, and [Danny] Ainge thought it needed to move Gobert to break free from that," Jones wrote.
The Jazz received a massive haul in exchange for Gobert, including Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, Walker Kessler and four first-round picks.
If the Jazz were ever going to get better, trading Gobert was probably its best option, especially considering all of the assets it received to help the franchise both now and in the future.
Gobert had been a staple in the Utah lineup since emerging as the team's starting center during the 2015-16 campaign, and he had an impressive 2021-22 season, averaging 15.6 points, 14.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 2.1 blocks per game.
In addition, Gobert was a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time All-Star in his Utah career. He also was the NBA's block champion in 2016-17, the 2021-22 rebound champion and had been selected to the All-Defensive Team six times.
However, the Jazz have not made it past the Western Conference Semifinals with both Gobert and Donovan Mitchell on the roster, so something obviously needed to change.
In addition, Gobert would have continued to be Utah's most expensive player had he remained with the franchise, and it would have been hard for the Jazz to retool around both him and Mitchell with limited cap space.
That said, the Jazz now "plan to retool the roster" around Mitchell, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. They have plenty of assets to do so, though it could be some time before Utah can contend with some of the better teams in the Western Conference, such as the Memphis Grizzlies or Dallas Mavericks.