The Utah Jazz has surprised everyone this season after trading away Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. What looked like a rebuild has turned into the team actually being competitive and fighting for a play-in spot, but that hasn’t changed the mindset of Danny Ainge heading into the NBA Trade Deadline. He wants to build a roster that will contend long-term. The goal isn’t simply making the playoffs this season.
“It doesn’t influence my process,” Ainge said. “I mean, we’re enjoying the team. The fans love our team, they’ve bought into our team, and we’re enjoying that part of it. But we’re not looking to break it up or necessarily go win a championship this year, either. We’re trying to do things that will help us long term. We’re not looking for a short-term fix so that we can get to the seventh seed instead of the 10th seed, unless it helps us long term.”
Led by the emergence of Lauri Markkanen and the always-reliable Jordan Clarkson, the Jazz currently sit at 27-28, which is good enough for 10th place in the West.
GM Justin Zanik openly admitted Utah is “open for business” and continues to get calls on numerous players:
“The flexibility that we have, and the fact that we have some really good players on reasonable contracts, we get a lot of calls,” Zanik said. “I don’t have to go make any calls. They’re calling — up and down the roster, whether it’s starters or rotational guys, veterans or good, young players that are coming along.
“Teams are always interested in good players, and it’s our job to listen.”
There are only three players Utah will not discuss in trade talks: Markkanen, rookie Walker Kessler, and wing Ochai Agbaji. Everyone else? Well, they’re a candidate to be moved if the right deal is on the table. And as we all know, Ainge in particular is never afraid to pull off a trade. There have already been rumors about a Russell Westbrook blockbuster, with Mike Conley and Malik Beasley potentially heading to the Los Angeles Lakers.
We’ll see if the Jazz are active by Thursday.