Trading Donovan Mitchell marks the end of an era for the Jazz: A look at how it all went down behind the scenes

On April 16, the New York Knicks, from William Wesley to Allen Houston, caught the NBA’s attention. That day, most of the Knicks front office showed up in Game 1 of the Utah Jazz-Dallas Mavericks playoff series.

If you ask the Knicks why they are there, their reason is to support Julius Randle, their power forward from the dallas areaIn fact, they showed the presence of Jalen Brunson and Donovan Mitchell there, which many saw as a message that they intend to pursue both players in the upcoming offseason.

That April day would mark the unofficial start of a wild saga between the Jazz and Knicks that heated up this summer when the Jazz made it clear that Mitchell was available. Their subsequent negotiations were more capricious than Roger Federer’s tennis game, and ended at the end of Labor Day weekend with the Jazz selling their All-Star guard not to the Knicks, but to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It begs the question: How on earth did Mitchell not go to New York?

From the Cavaliers, the Jazz will get the kind of package they have been seeking in most of their negotiations with the Knicks. Player compensation is in the form of guard Collin Sexton, power forward Lauri Markkanen and rookie shooting guard Ocha Agbagi. The Jazz also acquired three coveted unprotected first-round picks in 2025, 2027 and 2029. And a draft pick swap in 2026 and 2028.

According to sources, the Jazz are also in trade talks around some of the remaining players, namely veteran forward Bojan Bogdanovic, guard Mike Conley and guard Jordan Clarkson. But with Mitchell now in Cleveland and Rudy Gobert in Minnesota, the team has officially turned the page on that era. For the Jazz, it’s all about starting a new chapter in what they hope will be a championship.

It also ended a very public and sometimes controversial trade conversation with the Knicks that featured time and again trades, offers, counter-offers and conversations about leverage. The Knicks are considered favorites to acquire Mitchell and may be the only team in the league with the assets needed to steal him from the Jazz. Ultimately, the Knicks won’t give up a third unprotected first-round pick the Jazz want, and small forward RJ Barrett will grab the headlines, sources said.

Even if talks broke down Monday night, sources said the Knicks believed the Jazz would get back to the negotiating table, they believed the Knicks had the best package for Mitchell, and they also believed the Jazz had no other option in the market. .The source said several times sports The Jazz are interested in offers from multiple teams other than the Knicks, and the Jazz will stick to that. Ultimately, the Jazz decided to take the package from Cleveland.

Utah hasn’t spoken to New York about Mitchell since Monday night.

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Cavaliers pass

In the past, LL Cool J, one of the founders of hip-hop, released a popular song called “I’m That Type of Guy”, which describes a man who sneaks in and steals your girl.

Essentially, that’s what the Cavaliers did to the Knicks.

Just last week, the Cavaliers made an offer for Mitchell. The Jazz love it, but want to keep negotiating with the Knicks. Those talks reached a serious stage over the weekend and were actually close, but not done, according to league sources.

On Monday, the Knicks and Barrett reached an agreement on a rookie extension that could earn him as much as $120 million over the next four years. The Jazz still want to pursue Barrett, even after the extension, sources said. But on Tuesday morning, the Cavaliers contacted the Jazz after learning that the Jazz and Knicks had broken off negotiations. The team worked over the next two days and quickly came to an agreement. The Jazz did not return to the Knicks to give them a chance to beat Cleveland’s offer, according to sources.

Is Cleveland’s package better than the best in NYC? Do not.

Is it better than the ultimate package offered by the Knicks? Yes.

But at this point, the Jazz have gone a little too far as a front office. They want to know which direction their final roster will go. Negotiations with the Knicks have been a long and winding road to nowhere. This process lasted nearly two months. Labor Day is almost here. It’s time for the Jazz to start making some real decisions.

Is Utah’s asking price for Mitchell high? certainly. The Jazz traded a three-time All-Star who improved his game in the playoffs. The Jazz may have to recoup the bad money in the deal in the form of Evan Fournier, a good player in a vacuum, but the Jazz didn’t work. The Jazz are trading Mitchell to a preferred destination, which means the Knicks may not have to worry about Mitchell going wild from New York once Mitchell’s current contract ends. When you add that Mitchell is 25 years old and he’s a crazy worker who keeps honing his game but isn’t in the prime of his career and the Jazz know they’re trading the type of player they’re in. Players that are hard to find again in future drafts.

Then, when you add that the Knicks are clearly hungry for Mitchell from afar, but don’t provide the Jazz with what they think is market value, the Jazz are willing to trade their star elsewhere.

New York wants to trade Mitchell, but it doesn’t want to sacrifice its assets, believing it can use some of those assets to trade another star in the future. But the Jazz were reluctant to accept an offer that only required the Knicks to hand over two unprotected first-rounders. The Knicks love the idea of ​​combining Mitchell and Brunson. But now they don’t have Mitchell, and most importantly, Mitchell was traded to a direct competitor.

As a result of this trade, the Cavaliers are now players in the Eastern Conference. Mitchell and Darius Garland should immediately be one of the best starting backcourts in the league. Are they small? Yes. But defensively, the Cavaliers had Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen behind them, and Cleveland quickly overtook the Knicks with this trade. How the Cavaliers perform is yet to be determined, but they basically have four All-Star-caliber players in their starting lineup right now, which makes them very strong.

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Reconstruction is coming

Utah now has as much draft money over the next seven years as anyone in the league who isn’t in Oklahoma City. The Jazz also had two first-rounders in the 2022 NBA Draft in Agbagi this offseason, as well as Walker Kessler, who was acquired in the Gobert trade. The Cavaliers signed Sexton in a four-year, $72 million deal with the Jazz, and he became a cornerstone for Utah. Sexton isn’t as good as Mitchell, but he’s a dynamic offensive presence, an elite contender and a tenacious defender. He was Utah’s starting point.

Despite all the trades, the Jazz will struggle to move forward from Gobert and Mitchell.

They were a pair that went 243-147 together. They made the playoffs five times in a row. They advanced to the second round several times. They have the best record in the league in 2020-21.

But they never made it to the Western Conference finals. The first-round loss to the Mavericks last season proved to be the final straw for the Jazz front office. In fact, this Jazz era was shattered by a storm of Terenceman corner 3-pointers and a second-round loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2021.

Mitchell and Gobert are really good together. Unfortunately, their results are very good, not championship-level good. So once management traded Gobert in the early summer, it started listening to Mitchell offers.

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Between the two deals, Utah’s asset pool was as deep as it could be. The Jazz will have multiple first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029. All of these picks are either unprotected or lightly protected. They expect plenty of cap space next summer, potentially for trade talks. Sexton is a building block. Agbaji and Kessler will be young people to watch.

Utah’s backcourt is still very crowded, so it’ll be interesting to see what’s been done before and after training camp. The Jazz certainly want to see what they have in Agbaji, but the likes of Clarkson, Malik Beasley and Taron Horton-Tucker are around. Not to mention Jared Butler, Leandro Bolmaro and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

The most important thing for the Jazz is that they can keep going. Gobert was traded. Mitchell has been traded. The Utah Jazz of yesterday no longer exist. Will Hardy has a new head coach. There are new members on the coaching staff. How long does a franchise rebuild take? This is a good question. The Jazz are expected to miss the playoffs this year and have at least one lottery pick in the 2023 draft. Beyond that, the front office hopes to see significant improvements soon.

By trading Mitchell, the Utah Jazz completed a chapter. What will the next chapter cover?


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(Photo by Donovan Mitchell: Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images)

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