Utah Jazz goaltender Donovan Mitchell (45) prepares to shoot free throws during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY — Danny Ainge has a plan, but there’s this caveat: It will take time.
The Utah Jazz made things official Thursday afternoon by announcing that the team had traded Donovan Mitchell for guard Collin Sexton, forward Lauri Markkanen, rookie winger Ochai Agbaji, three future first-round picks and some trades. of choice.
It’s been a known deal since Friday, but the announcement allowed Jazz’s management team to offer some thoughts on the move.
Ainge said in a statement that in order for the Jazz to compete for a title in the future, they needed to make some changes now. Essentially, he admitted that the duo of Mitchell and Rudy Gobert had peaked and it was time to get back to zero. He and Justin Zanik went ahead and pressed that button.
“It was clear that to maximize our opportunity to create a team that could really struggle and establish lasting success, we needed to transition our roster,” Ainge said. “Trading Rudy and now Donovan was a rare opportunity to maximize our ability to secure quality talent and picks to best position ourselves moving forward.”
The Jazz now have a lot of options in front of them. But most, if not all, will require a lengthy rebuild. The Jazz tore it all down, and now they’re going to try to build it stronger. Ainge hinted that the process will not be quick.
“We have a plan in place to help us build the championship team our fans deserve,” he said. “It will take time to build our roster. We all understand the work ahead and are committed to our vision.”
Utah went looking for first-round picks in exchange for their stars and found them. It could take a while for any of these picks to turn into players on a championship prospect roster; but while the picks were the jackpot, the Jazz say they’re thrilled with the young prospects they picked up from Cleveland for Mitchell.
Agbaji was the No. 14 pick in the 2022 draft and represents the highest drafted turn since Mitchell (No. 13 in 2017). Markkanen is entering his sixth season and was one of the best performers at the EuroBasket 2022 tournament. Sexton, who the Jazz signed to a four-year, $72 million deal as part of the trade, has averaged more by 24 points in 2020-21, his last healthy full season.
“Ochai, Lauri and Collin are exciting young players, and we are delighted to add them to our roster,” Zanik said in a statement. “We think they fit the culture of jazz and the competitive, uncompromising brand of basketball we’ve built here in Utah. They give us versatility and athleticism at both ends of the floor as we move forward. future. We look forward to our fans getting to know them.”
It’s hard to see those fans embracing any of them the same way they did Mitchell when he came to Utah as a grinning kid from Louisville. He brought enthusiasm and hope back to a franchise that had just been dismissed by Gordon Hayward. This hope, however, was eventually extinguished; and that led to the decision to leave the local All-Star who averaged 23.9 points, 4.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds during his five seasons at Utah.
“The Jazz have had so many great times with Donovan over the past five years as he became a perennial All-Star,” owner Ryan Smith said in a statement. “But just as important was the lasting impact he had in Utah. He is an incredible human being and he has touched the lives of so many people through his involvement in the community. Our entire organization wishes him well. much success in his future. Once a Jazzman, always a Jazzman.”
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