The Utah Jazz traded three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to Minnesota on Friday, leaving the Timberwolves with two of the NBA’s top big men. The Jazz got a haul of draft picks in the deal, landing four first-rounders along with Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Patrick Beverley, and rookie Walker Kessler.
What Are The Timberwolves Up To?
When you get past the massive collection of draft picks the Timberwolves just sent in this deal, they’re left with an imposing frontcourt duo of Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. Minnesota’s hope is that Gobert’s excellent rim protection will balance well with Towns’ more modern skillset and cause all kinds of havoc on both ends of the floor. The Wolves don’t need to rely on their frontcourt entirely, of course. Anthony Edwards is a budding star and seems to be on the verge of overtaking Towns as the on-court leader of this team. D’Angelo Russell isn’t a player teams can ignore on the offensive end, either. Chris Finch’s team has options, and you need options to win a playoff series or two.
For all of the criticism Gobert receives, he is one of the sport’s great modern defenders. He’s averaged 2+ blocks/game in eight consecutive seasons, grabbed 12+ rebounds/game in five of his last six, and has led the league in defensive win shares twice. He is not the total package, but the hope in Minnesota is that the presence of Towns can allow Gobert to simply do what he does best.
The Wolves’ roster did take some hits by losing Beverley, Beasley, and Vanderbilt. Tim Connelly prepared for Vanderbilt’s exit by signing Kyle Anderson yesterday, and the addition of Wendell Moore Jr. may help offset the loss of Beasley. Look for Jaylen Nowell to soak up some of the minutes Beasley leaves behind as well. It’ll be tough to replace Beverley’s intensity, which defined the Timberwolves’ playoff run this spring. Adding another veteran piece to the backcourt wouldn’t be a bad idea.
What Does This Mean for the Jazz?
The re-tool is on in Utah. A month after coach Quin Snyder resigned, one of the staples of their success over the last few seasons is gone. The only thing that separates the Jazz from a total rebuild is a Donovan Mitchell trade. Much like a Russell Westbrook trade was a given when the Thunder dealt Paul George in 2019, you have to wonder if it’s only a matter of time before the Jazz deal Mitchell.
Adrian Wojnarowski reported shortly after the deal that Utah still plans to build around Mitchell. A report by Suns insider John Gambadoro this afternoon only makes Utah’s plan more uncertain. Gambadoro says the Jazz have interest in acquiring Deandre Ayton via sign-and-trade, which would indicate Utah might want to keep Mitchell, replace Gobert with Ayton, and move forward with all of this draft capital. Will that be enough to satisfy Mitchell?
When you look at the haul Utah got for Gobert, it’s not a surprise they took this deal. Minnesota sent unprotected first-rounders in 2023, 2025, and 2027, a top-5 protected first-rounder in 2029, and a pick swap in 2026. The Jazz also received four players including Jarred Vanderbilt, who started 67 games for the Timberwolves last season.
The draft picks are the motivating factor for Utah in this deal, but adding Vanderbilt and Kessler just to see what they can do can’t hurt. Vanderbilt averaged 6.9 points and 8.4 rebounds last season, amounting to 11.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. Kessler was the 22nd pick out of Auburn in last week’s draft and was an excellent shot-blocker in college. Without Gobert, he could get plenty of run with the Jazz. Malik Beasley is still just 25, and while he didn’t live up to expectations last season after averaging 19.6 points in 2020-21, he’s absolutely a piece the Jazz will like to keep. Unless Utah plans on contending immediately, it’s hard to see them keeping Patrick Beverley on the roster.
Everything is changing for the Jazz. The colors, the coach, and now the heart of the roster. All that still stands is Donovan Mitchell. For how long?