It appears the Utah Jazz will be entering an era not seen in six seasons — an uncompetitive team that is outside of the playoff picture. Danny Ainge was open as to why the team needed to go in their current direction.
The two biggest moves for the Jazz were trading away two franchise stars in Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Despite the All-Star duo still being in the prime of their careers, Utah CEO and president and basketball of operations, Ainge, felt the team was missing something.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got here,” Ainge told reporters Monday, as transcribed by The Athletic’s Tony Jones. “But what I saw was a team that didn’t believe in each other. Maybe I thought they were just waiting for the playoffs. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt. But, by the end of the season, it was unanimous that this was the direction we needed to go.
“I think individually, there was resolve. I just don?t believe there was resolve collectively. So, what we saw was a lot of players trying to do it on their own. Watching the Jazz from the outside, I thought they were a good team. But, they had some disappointing playoff performances. I thought the collective belief in one another wasn’t as great as some of the other teams that I’ve been on and around.”
This type of team building is not unfamiliar to Ainge. In 2013, when he served as president of basketball operations with the Boston Celtics, Ainge dealt a package that included Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets for multiple first-round picks. Two of those first-round picks turned into the C’s current foundation, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
It appears Ainge is trying to see if lightning can strike twice as he has amassed multiple first-round picks from the Gobert and Mitchell trade — four from the Timberwolves and three from the Cleveland Cavaliers, along with two pick swaps, in each respective trade.
Bojan Bogdanovic is reportedly open for the trade market, according to Jones. However, the Jazz have not been able to find a suitor, though the Los Angeles Lakers remain interested.
These kinds of rebuilds will take time, and new head coach and former Celtics assistant Will Hardy will be entrusted with building up the young talent on the roster, including Colin Sexton, who was acquired from the Cavaliers. Utah fans will likely have to wait a handful of years to see if Ainge’s gamble was worth taking.