In spite of Luka Dončić only playing half of the series, the
Utah Jazz have been eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks in the
opening round of the NBA Playoffs, which can only mean it’s time to
blow them up!
Okay, not really... but maybe? Virtually everyone is expecting
organizational changes given the team's recent underachievement in
the playoffs stemming from successful regular seasons. This
incarnation of the Jazz was established in 2017-18, behind
then-rookie Donovan Mitchell’s quick rise to stardom and Rudy
Gobert’s emergence as an annual Defensive Player of the Year
That season, Mitchell — filling the void left by Gordon Hayward
— finished his first season as a 20-point-per-game scorer despite
being picked No. 13 overall and averaging just over 14 points per
game in his first 19 appearances. Gobert, even having played only
56 games, was awarded his first of now three DPOY awards.
In these five years, there have been as many playoff trips —
three as the No. 5 seed (including this season), one as the No. 6
in the Orlando Bubble, and another as the top overall seed in the
Western Conference last year.
In 2017-18, the Jazz overachieved, taking down the Russell
Westbrook-Paul George-Carmelo Anthony-led Oklahoma City Thunder in
six games before losing to the No. 1 seed Houston Rockets in five
In 2018-19, Utah lost to the Rockets again in five, this time in
the first round, and Houston even led 3-0 with a +55 scoring margin
before dropping Game 4.
In 2019-20, the Jazz squandered a 3-1 lead to the Denver
Nuggets, losing Game 7 in the final seconds of the opening
Last season — despite the Los Angeles Clippers losing Kawhi
Leonard to a torn ACL (that he’s still not back from) — the Jazz
lost in six games to the Clippers in
the West semifinals, and Gobert was dunked on by both Terance Mann
and social media in the ending.
And finally, this postseason — in a series with Dončić missing
the first three games with a calf injury, in which Utah still
trailed 2-1 upon his return — Utah lost on yet another last-second
Personally speaking, it feels like we’re heading toward Mitchell
requesting a trade and moving on, but either way, one of Mitchell
or Gobert — perhaps both — may be on the move in the coming months.
Our Evan Sidery recently looked at five trade ideas
Mitchell is due $30.3 million next year, $32.6 million in
2023-24, $34.9 million in 2024-25, and has a player option for $37
million in 2025-26. Keep that in mind as we embark on this journey
together. (Why did I sound like Professor Oak there?)
Mitchell’s father, Donovan Sr., works with the New York Mets
organization. The 25-year-old Mitchell himself is a native of
Elmsford, New York. Naturally, with the New York Knicks, there will
be Mitchell smoke until a deal (or something else) actually
happens. Because Tommy Beer already broke down the possibility of a
Mitchell-to-New-York trade, we won’t stay here too long.
Regarding the Knicks’ actual proposal, the first look would be
to RJ Barrett, who is extension eligible this summer, entering year
four and making $10.9 million next year. The idea, for New York,
should be to team Barrett and Mitchell together. If that’s not
possible, and the Mitchell deal were to have to get done, Barrett
is your chief trade chip, along with first-round draft picks. The
Knicks have all their own first-rounders as of this writing.
Usable salaries for the Knicks next year include Evan Fournier,
who’ll be at $18 million, Derrick Rose at $14.5 million, Alec Burks
at $10 million, Nerlens Noel at $9.2 million and Kemba Walker at
over $9.1 million. Rose, Burks and Noel all have team options for
2023-24, so they have ostensibly expiring deals. Walker’s next
season is his last under contract, and Fournier is signed through
2025, but that also includes a team option. Cam Reddish and Taj
Gibson also enter the last year of their respective deals, at about
$6 million and $5.1 million each, respectively.
The contract elephant in the room is Julius Randle’s, which is a
four-year, $117 million extension that begins next season at $26.1
million. It’ll gradually increase until his player option for $32.4
million kicks in for 2025-26. The Knicks might try to move Randle
instead, but what sense does that make for Utah? And if Utah isn’t
getting Barrett, would they want a package of the aforementioned
veterans (say, Fournier and Burks), along with one or two of
Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, or Miles McBride (who make
between $1.6 and $2.3 million next year) and picks?
It’ll be hard to do without Barrett, and maybe Randle gets
involved in a three-team deal, but the Knicks have the picks,
salaries and prospects to make it work, if that’s the route the
Jazz want to go.
The Pistons seem like a team that could be a version of this
past season’s Cleveland Cavaliers — not in terms of play style or
once being a top-four team in the Eastern Conference standings
necessarily, but from the standpoint of being competitive a year
sooner than we think and playing meaningful games down the stretch
(like one or two in the Play-In Tournament).
Given that 20 of 30 NBA teams will have games beyond the regular
season, the Pistons may (should) attempt to get one of those
Last year’s No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham is someone you can build with. Saddiq Bey should be a
more efficient scorer with more experience and better teammates.
Most of the rest is to be determined, but Detroit can start by
using Jerami Grant’s near $21 million expiring deal next
What comes next depends on what stage the Jazz want to be closer
to. If this is a rebuild, you can ask for a combination of Killian
Hayes and Hamidou Diallo (both of whom make over $5 million next
year), for example, and Hayes has a $7.4 million team option for
2023-24. If not, Kelly Olynyk has $12.8 million coming to him next
year that’s usable. Utah can in throw in, hypothetically, Royce
O’Neale’s $9.3 million deal next year and get Olynyk anyway.
So the player framework can look something like:
Donovan Mitchell for Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk
Donovan Mitchell for Jerami Grant, Killian Hayes and Hamidou
Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale for Jerami Grant, Killian
Hayes, Hamidou Diallo and Kelly Olynyk plus a sh*t ton of draft
picks. The Pistons would be moving something like three
first-rounders in the deal, and potentially multiple first-round
The Heat didn’t do it then, but it might still be on the table
depending on how these playoffs go. The Heat might not offer the
best return package because of their draft picks, but they did
unlock additional firsts by moving KZ Okpala to Oklahoma City in
February. And, for Miami, we’re mainly talking about one package.
But again, it depends on the results of this postseason.
Currently, the Heat are getting ready to face the Philadelphia
76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, a matchup they’re
favored to win (albeit narrowly). If they lose this particular
series, or if they win and Tyler Herro continues to struggle in the
playoffs, or even if Miami makes a deep run and Herro elevates from
a slow start, he’d be the primary chip in a Mitchell deal.
Furthermore, the Heat are on Mitchell’s
shortlist, according to Greg Sylvander of Five Reasons
The deal, as I mentioned on our stream, would include Herro —
who is still on a rookie-scale contract ($5.7 million next year),
but is extension-eligible this summer and wouldn’t kick-in until
2023. Then comes Duncan Robinson, who’ll enter the second year of a
five-year, $90 million deal next season, which bookends with a near
$20 million player option and rises to $16.9 million next
According to the trade machine, Omer Yurtseven’s $1.7 million
next season makes the math work, and would give Utah a Gobert
backup who’ll, if nothing else, get you 10 rebounds in 15 minutes
on occasion. Would the Heat have to throw in at least one of Gabe
Vincent, Max Strus or Haywood Highsmith (all of whom make between
$1.7 and $1.8 million next year)? Perhaps. And from there, Miami
has tradeable first-rounders in 2022, 2024 and 2026. So, in
summation, it could look like this:
Donovan Mitchell for Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Omer
Yurtseven, one of Gabe Vincent/Max Strus/Haywood Highsmith, draft
But if Herro has a big playoff run moving forward, the Heat may
instead opt to move Robinson in a separate, smaller deal for a
worthy big man in their rotation, and mostly run it back
Alright, now you saw what the Heat did to Trae Young in the
first round. The Hawks clearly are not only poised to get Young
some help, but make a 3-for-1-ish deal to consolidate some depth
into a higher-end starter — or in the case of Mitchell, a fellow
offensive starter. His teammate, Gobert, is probably the better
fit, but one, I’m not writing about Gobert (our Evan Sidery will
handle that) and two, if Gobert is frustrated with Mitchell’s
But anyway, you gotta start somewhere. And for Atlanta, part of
why the Heat neutralized Young is their malleability defensively,
but also, the Hawks don’t have another true star to account for on
the perimeter. Mitchell would give Young a viable tag team partner
offensively to spread the defensive focus. To do so, the Hawks
could play this a few different ways.
The obvious trade chip is John Collins, and there could be
questions about his fit next to Gobert, but it’s not a bad place to
start if you’re moving someone of Mitchell’s caliber. Collins will
make $23.5 million next year, and between $25.3 and $26.6 million
through 2025-26. Collins has had rumored friction with Young,
though they’ve downplayed it over the years. From there, if you use
Collins in a possible deal, it gets interesting.
De’Andre Hunter — who makes $9.8 million next year in the last
season of a rookie deal and is extension-eligible this summer —
seems logical for both the Jazz to want and the Hawks to keep.
Hunter was Atlanta's best player against the Heat, and has been a
quality two-way wing when healthy. Is a framework of Collins and
Hunter for Mitchell straight up enough of a deal for both sides?
Sheeeeeiiiiit, ask them, but it sounds good to me!
Donovan Mitchell for John Collins and De'Andre Hunter
No Collins? Okay. You’re not moving Clint Capela’s long-term
deal for Utah in a Mitchell move, so that’s out of the picture.
Kevin Huerter would absolutely have to be part of this, and no,
that’s not a white Utah joke. Hu-why would you think
Huerter begins his $65 million extension next year, the first of
four, banking $14.5 million in 2022-23. Hunter probably stays in
the deal because Utah has to get something really good, and the
Hawks simply can’t extend everyone. Again, Atlanta should want to
keep Hunter, but this is the price of doing business. But if you’re
throwing in Huerter instead of Collins (which does work on the
trade machine since different rules apply in the offseason than
in-season), you’ll need multiple first round picks — of which the
Hawks have all their own — so that could get done.
Could Utah also want Onyeka Okongwu? Sure, but he seems like
Atlanta's 5-man of the future, and a separate deal moving off
Capela might be more likely. So the second proposal could look like
Donovan Mitchell for De'Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, draft
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