The Utah Jazz are currently facing a huge dilemma. In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced the NBA to suspend its season, reports have started to circulate about the ongoing dispute between Jazz franchise cornerstones Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. While the Jazz are doing everything they can to fix the issue between Mitchell and Gobert, the team should also start preparing for a worst-case scenario where it needs to let one of its best players go.
“In the event the two cannot reconcile by the time the offseason begins, the Jazz may have to choose between trading one of Mitchell and Gobert. If they follow the Lakers’ blueprint, chances are they’ll trade Gobert and keep Mitchell. Mitchell is four years younger than Gobert and just made his first All-Star appearance. The best from Mitchell has yet to come, and now that he is about to become extension-eligible, he could hold that against the Jazz if they don’t move Gobert.”
The Lakers were in the same situation as the Jazz in 2004 when they were forced to choose between Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. During that time, both players were still in their primes and helped the Lakers win three consecutive NBA championship titles from 2000 to 2002. After realizing that the relationship between their two best players was irreparable, the Lakers ended up sending O’Neal to the Miami Heat and started building their roster around Bryant.
The Jazz could take a similar path if the relationship between Mitchell and Gobert still doesn’t appear salvageable in the 2020 NBA offseason. Between the two superstars, most people would agree that the Jazz are better off keeping Mitchell. Gobert is no doubt an incredible player, but it’s hard to build around a big man whose game doesn’t perfectly fit with the modern NBA.
If Gobert becomes officially available on the trading block, he is expected to receive strong interest from NBA teams who are in dire need of a frontcourt boost to contend for the NBA championship title. As Gozlan noted, some of Gobert’s potential suitors this summer include the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Atlanta Hawks, the New York Knicks, and the Golden State Warriors. Aside from their collection of future draft assets, Gozlan believes engaging in a trade deal with the Thunder, Hawks, Knicks, or Warriors would enable the Jazz to immediately fill the void Gobert would leave in their frontcourt.