The Utah Jazz cleaned house this summer.
Under the direction of Danny Ainge, the CEO of basketball operations, they traded away both of their biggest stars in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
In return the Jazz walked away with nine new players, seven first round draft selections and three first round swaps. All the pieces necessary for a rebuild.
This week Ainge explained why precisely he made the decision to blow the roster up as drastically as he has in recent months.
“I wasn’t sure how good the Jazz were going to be. I was curious & optimistic, but what I saw during the season was a group of players that really didn’t believe in each other.”
Danny Ainge on coming to Utah midseason & what he observed
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 12, 2022
“When I came in mid-season, I had obviously followed the Jazz from the outside before I got here in December, but I wasn’t sure how good the Jazz were going to be,” Ainge said.
“I was curious and optimistic, but what I saw during the season was a group of players that really didn’t believe in each other. Like the whole group, I think they liked each other even more than what was reported. But I’m not sure there was a belief.”
Ainge was willing to let the Jazz prove him wrong in the playoffs, but ultimately they collapsed the way he expected them to.
“And so, I gave them that benefit of the doubt, but it was clear the team did not perform well in the playoffs again,” he concluded.
It’s hard to argue with Ainge’s logic. And all signs point to him not being done yet.
There are currently five teams engaged in conversations with the Jazz for Jordan Clarkson; two teams discussing a trade centering around Bojan Bogdanovic; and three legit suitors for a potential Mike Conley Jr. swap.
The Los Angeles Lakers figure to be involved in some capacity. Just this week, Utah made it very clear to them what the asking price would be for a deal involving Clarkson and Bogdanovic.
That’s one way to deal with getting destroyed by the Chiefs. https://t.co/W4CPPB5M8U
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 14, 2022
Whether L.A. will bite or not remains to be seen.
The Jazz were an intriguing middling Western Conference squad, but it was clear that they wouldn’t win a title with Mitchell and Gobert leading the charge. Especially given how much those two hated each other.
In that respect, they probably made the right call to blow everything up and start anew.