For every small market team, hitting on two bona fide stars is a god send. Not only that, but having both locked up for the relative long term protects from any crazy free agency move that haunts every small market. This is the exact situation the Utah Jazz had walking into this offseason. They were in yearly playoff contention, and you never knew when lightning would strike and a championship run would occur. Granted, there was discontent around their two stars, but Utah had repaired that relationship once after the bubble you would think that they could have done it again. Yet, marking one of the biggest splashes of the offseason, the Jazz traded away Rudy Gobert and are looking to find a trade partner for Donovan Mitchell. They are going into a full rebuild, and it could be years until playoff basketball visits Salt Lake City.
When considering the rebuild that Utah has undertaken, it must be recognized that Danny Ainge had a major part in these moves. Ainge moved over to the Jazz in 2022, and has begun implementing his vision of a championship winning team. It can be seen in Boston when the contending core of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded for future picks. He wants to create a championship roster from the ground up, and is willing to give up success right now for increased success in the future. This blueprint has been proven in Boston, where Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum carried the Celtics to a Finals appearance. These players are a direct result of that trade Ainge made in 2013. While this is not going to be a direct mimic of the Boston Celtics, there will be many similarities in the building of each franchise.
The first move for the Jazz was in trading Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for 4 first round picks, 1 pick swap, and the Timberwolves 2022 first round selection(Walker Kessler). This is a move similar to that Pierce, Garnett trade for the Celtics. A move that brings loads of draft capital, signals a change in direction, and inadvertently places the Jazz in the lottery. If, more like when, the Jazz make another move for Donovan Mitchell there will certainly be more picks and young players to aid the rebuild. This could range from R.J Barrett from the Knicks to O.G Anunoby from the Raptors. Whatever the haul is, the Jazz are almost guaranteeing themselves a young star on their rookie contract, who can take hold of a team and really develop. This is one of the underrated aspects of the rebuild, but is vital nonetheless. Each player early in the rebuild is put into a situation with little pressure for real success/wins, and is allowed to develop on their own timeline with the full support of the franchise. At least early in the process, the players from these big deals this summer and the ones drafted in the lottery(Utah is almost certainly going to be a lottery team for a few years) will have the time to develop and grow into franchise cornerstones. That is the game plan for the Jazz, get as much young talent onto the roster as possible, and just let each player develop and eventually propel this team into the championship conversation.
Top Image: Mengshin Lin, Deseret News