There’s been a ton of rumors out of Salt Lake City that the Utah Jazz could look to pull off a Rudy Gobert trade during the summer.
Utah heads into its first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks having struggled to close out the regular season. Some around the NBA believe that the pairing of Gobert and Donovan Mitchell has hit its ceiling. Meanwhile, there’s continued reports of a rift between the two All-Star players.
“Gobert and Mitchell have been at each other’s… I don’t know if I can say at each other’s throats. It’s back to being passively aggressively awkward. It’s the most underplayed story in the league, I think. The Jazz are struggling a lot.
This team had big expectations and they’re getting passed by frankly. They are not on the level they were a year ago. Donovan and Gobert, even though they’re both under long-term contract, are under each other’s skin. There’s all kind of subtweeting and passive aggressive stuff going on.”ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on the Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell dynamic (February 4, 2022)
If Utah does indeed look to break up this core two during the summer, it’s safe to say a Rudy Gobert trade would be the likeliest scenario. Mitchell remains very much a high-ceiling player while Gobert’s ability to take his game to the next level appears to be a thing of the past.
Further west, another report suggests that the Golden State Warriors and their veteran stars might push to acquire Gobert in a trade with Utah. It makes sense given Golden State’s struggles at center and the fact that former No. 2 pick James Wiseman has played all of 39 games in his first two NBA seasons.
Having won 53 games this past regular season with the likes of Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green playing 11 combined minutes together, Golden State still fancies itself as a contender. The No. 3 seed out west, Steve Kerr and Co. will begin that potential march to a title against the Denver Nuggets this coming weekend.
Should the Warriors fall short, it would not be a surprise if the front office opted to add another star player to the mix at the cost of their young assets. Here’s how a Rudy Gobert trade to the Warriors might look.
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Andrew Wiggins would be involved in any Rudy Gobert trade
From a financial perspective, the Jazz would have to take on Wiggins and his contract. The three-and-D forward is set to count $33.62 million against the cap in 2022-23 — the final year of his current contract.
From an on-court perspective, this also makes sense for a Jazz team that has struggled out on the wing all season long. Wiggins would be a vast two-way upgrade over what they have right now.
- Andrew Wiggins stats (2021-22): 17.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 47% shooting, 39% 3-point, 15.0 PER, 5.1 win shares
To put this into perspective, Royce O’Neale started 77 regular-season games for the Jazz this past regular season. He averaged 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds while posting a PER of 10.3.
Even if Utah doesn’t envision the 27-year-old Wiggins as a long-term fixture in Salt Lake, his expiring contract would be a boon for general manager Justin Zanik in an attempt to build more pieces around Mitchell.
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Warriors would have to part with young assets in a Rudy Gobert trade
Assuming youngsters Jordan Poole and Jonathan Kuminga are off the table, Wiseman would likely be one of the young players headed to Utah in a potential trade for Gobert. Sure he’s been injury-plagued through his first two NBA seasons, but we’re talking about a 21-year-old center with an All-Star skill-set.
Remember, the former Memphis star averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds on 52% shooting as a teenager during his rookie season.
“It would cost them Wiggins and Wiseman but if you believe in Jordan Poole and Klay [Thompson] to man the wings for the next few years, I think the Warriors would have to consider it. Talent-wise, Wiggins and Wiseman for Gobert is a good deal for both sides.”NBA executive to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com
A 2-for-1 swap would work financially. However, we have a hard time believing that Utah would pull off this deal without acquiring another young player and/or draft assets from Golden State. Perhaps, 2021 lottery pick Moses Moody would make sense. The Warriors also have pretty much all of their future first-round selections to offer up in a trade.
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Rudy Gobert as a fit on the Golden State Warriors
It would create a dynamic in San Francisco that other teams would have a had time competing with. Gobert and fellow former NBA Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green teaming up inside. That’s unfair from a defensive perspective.
- Rudy Gobert stats (2021-22): 15.6 PPG, 14.7 RPG, 71% FG, 24.7 PER, 11.7 win shares
Unlike Green, Gobert can put up double-digit points on a consistent basis. It wouldn’t lead to a lack of scoring inside.
The idea here would then be for Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole to team up in the backcourt with Klay Thompson manning the three. Stud teenager Jonathan Kuminga would be the sixth man in this scenario.
That’s just a ton of talent to work with. We know about what Curry, Thompson and Green bring to the table. But the emergence of both Poole and Kuminga changes the dynamics in a big way. In particular, Poole finished up his third NBA season averaging 25.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 43% shooting from distance in his final 20 games.
A Rudy Gobert trade would make Golden State instant title contenders for the foreseeable future. That’s why there’s renewed talk of its brass being interested in pulling off the blockbuster. Whether it happens remains to be seen and will depend a lot on how these two teams perform in the playoffs.