Jazz Rumors: Donovan Mitchell Questioned Plan After Rudy Gobert, Royce O'Neale Trades

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 6, 2022

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Utah Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell reportedly expressed some concern after the organization traded away All-Star center Rudy Gobert and starting small forward Royce O'Neale last week.

Speaking Wednesday on Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective, ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst said Mitchell essentially asked Jazz higher-ups what their plan was after trading away two key players primarily for draft picks.

Windhorst noted that the plan is to "do what's right for the franchise" and that the Jazz decision-makers, including CEO of basketball operations Danny Ainge, felt the trades were in the long-term best interest of the franchise.

After sending O'Neale to the Brooklyn Nets for a 2023 first-round pick, the Jazz agreed to trade Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for four first-round picks, three of which are unprotected, plus Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Leandro Bolmaro and 2022 No. 22 overall pick Walker Kessler.

Windhorst went on to say that while the Jazz haven't officially put Mitchell on the trade block, he believes they have a price and would be willing to trade their franchise cornerstone if the offer is good enough.

Mitchell has been a star on the rise since entering the NBA as the No. 13 overall pick out of Louisville in 2017. He has shown improvements in each of his five seasons and been named an All-Star in each of the past three campaigns.

Last season, Mitchell averaged 25.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game to go along with a career-high 5.3 assists, 3.5 three-pointers made and 1.5 steals. He also shot 44.8 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from beyond the arc.

The Jazz have never missed the playoffs during Mitchell's tenure, but they have also never made it past the second round, prompting them to make some significant changes.

Trading Gobert was the biggest move, as the 7'1" Frenchman is a three-time All-Star and three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year who won his first rebounding title last season with 14.7 per game.

There is no obvious replacement for Gobert on the roster, leaving the Jazz with a gaping hole at center, especially from a defense and rebounding perspective.

O'Neale's stats weren't as impressive as Gobert's, but he still had a career year in 2021-22, averaging 7.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 three-pointers made and 1.1 steals per game in 77 starts while shooting 45.7 percent from the floor and 38.9 percent from deep.

The Jazz did receive a bevy of role players in the Gobert trade, so they may be able to replace O'Neale by committee, but they have to be considered a worse team than they were last season with Gobert no longer in the fold.

Utah has more than enough assets to make some trades before the start of the 2022-23 season and build around Mitchell, but for now, it is fair for Mitchell to wonder if the Jazz are planning on entering a rebuild.


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