If the Utah Jazz want to keep Donovan Mitchell in Salt Lake City
long-term, it seems more likely than not that Rudy Gobert will soon
be shown the exit door. As the Jazz enter an awkward offseason, the
future of Gobert and Mitchell will be one of the NBA’s top
storylines until a resolution is finally reached.
If the Jazz want to build around Mitchell long-term and get
younger, Gobert's days in Utah may be numbered. The Jazz identified
Gobert's potential and helped him develop into a three-time
Defensive Player of the Year, so parting ways won't be easy.
However, it may be necessary in order to revamp the roster and best
accentuate their other star player.
Gobert's value has taken a hit due to his recent super-max
extension, which will pay him $169.7 million over the next four
seasons. Although Gobert has an immense impact on the defensive
end, there may be some executives who can't justify shelling out
close to $200 million for him.
Gobert makes little to no sense on a rebuilding team or one
that's just beginning their ascent up the standings. Instead, the
market for Gobert will likely feature win-now organizations that
believe he could be the final piece to the puzzle. And assuming
Utah would prefer to move Gobert out of the Western Conference, the
list of potential teams continues to shrink. If only there was an
aggressive team that just took a major step forward and feels they
are one piece away from contention entering this offseason...
“The vision is to win the title,” Chicago Bulls executive vice
president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said a few
weeks ago. "I realized last year, this historic club deserves a
Insert Gobert within the Bulls' current ecosystem and this
organization could absolutely take another leap in 2022-23. Chicago
wants to compete for a championship within the reloaded Eastern
Conference that's headlined by the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks,
Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors.
The Bulls got off to a hot start this season, but eventually tailed
off due to injuries and inconsistent play. In the end, Chicago was
quickly dispatched in the first round by the Bucks — once again
signaling that the time is now to make improvements.
“The current situation is not enough, and we need to create
something better,” Karnisovas said.
According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer and The Ringer’s
Kevin O’Connor, Chicago has already inquired about Gobert. For both
Gobert and the Bulls, this fit makes way too much sense from a
timeline perspective. Gobert is in his prime and Chicago has all
the pieces necessary to make a run. Zach LaVine, who is expected to re-sign with the
Bulls, and DeMar DeRozan form a strong scoring tandem. Add in
Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso — who would be the best perimeter
defenders that Gobert has played with — and now Chicago is cooking
with gas. This is a team that would be ripe for a deep postseason
run next season.
The question is: what is Utah's asking price for Gobert? Any
deal would likely involve two-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic. Fischer
noted that former No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams has fans in
the Jazz’s front office. However, according to Fischer, "the Bulls
do not appear willing to include Patrick Williams alongside Vucevic
in a trade package for Gobert." Rightfully, Chicago should haggle
over Williams’ inclusion and try to send out multiple draft picks
However, if the Jazz are adamant that they need Williams back in
order to deal Gobert to the Windy City, the Bulls should bite the
bullet. A package centered around Williams and the expiring
contracts of Nikola Vucevic and Coby White lines up almost
The time is now for this Bulls core to become a realistic title
contender. With this current core centered around LaVine and
DeRozan, Chicago’s window to compete is over the next two or three
years. Gobert would be a huge help against the East's giants such
as Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Maybe Williams becomes a great player down the road, but it
seems unlikely that this will happen within Chicago's current
window to contend. And who knows if Williams will even realize his
full potential? That's the risk in prioritizing a high-upside
prospect over a win-now piece.
For Utah, this deal allows them to acquire an excellent
long-term piece, shed a massive salary and add some expiring
contracts (who could allow them to still be competitive next
season). If the Jazz play their cards right around Mitchell in a
post-Gobert world, they'd have an easy pathway to a max-salary slot
We all know Gobert’s immense impact on the defensive end, but
his presence becomes an instant game-changer for the Bulls. Chicago
already has a strong offensive core, so Gobert makes them a
complete team that's very well-rounded. An elite rim protector
anchoring one side of the court with two All-Star scorers keeping
the offense afloat is a recipe for stacking up a lot of
We saw it in Utah: a well-constructed team around Gobert can
become a regular-season juggernaut. But the question becomes what
happens during postseason play? Unlike the lack of defensive
versatility surrounding him with the Jazz, Gobert would be playing
alongside Ball and Caruso on the perimeter. It’s easy to envision a
scenario where the Bulls are a well above-average unit offensively
and defensively with Gobert placed into the center spot.
Last season in Utah, the Jazz allowed 7.8 more points per 100
possessions in the minutes Gobert sat — a massive gulch that shows
his transcendent ability to deter shots with ease. Gobert, Ball and
Caruso will take pressure off of LaVine and DeRozan, allowing them
to focus on the offensive end and be even more effective. The
Bulls’ projected rotation with Gobert is eye-opening:
Starters: Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Zach LaVine, DeMar
DeRozan, Rudy Gobert
Second Unit: Ayo Dosunmu, Troy Brown Jr., Javonte Green,
Marko Simonovic, Tony Bradley
Chicago knows that the time is now to push the right buttons in
order to become a consistent threat in the East. Adding Gobert
would give the Bulls a complete roster and thrust Chicago into
contention in the East. Even if Chicago has to part with Williams,
it’s a necessary price to pay in order to maximize their window
around LaVine’s prime and DeRozan’s final chapter of elite
In a perfect world, the Jazz don’t make any changes and decide
to make moves elsewhere on the roster in order to improve (such as
moving Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson and Royce O’Neale).
However, the situation in Utah is far from perfect right now with
their face of the franchise.
For a team like Chicago, they are well-positioned to pounce and
become an instant title contender. As Karnisovas laid out, he
realizes big changes could be necessary in order to return the
Bulls to their glory years. Making an all-in move for Gobert could
easily be the accelerant Chicago needs.
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