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NBA Offseason Buzz: All Eyes on Utah Jazz Stars + Knicks, Clippers, Pelicans Rumors | Bleacher Report

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The offseason has begun for all but eight teams within the NBA, and no franchise’s future has been a greater subject of debate in league circles than that of the Utah Jazz. But for all of the talk of potential wholesale changes in Salt Lake City following one other premature playoff exit, there’s reason to imagine the important fixtures in Utah aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

Much of the leaguewide conversation regarding the potential split of three-time Defensive Player of the Yr Rudy Gobert and three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell seems to have been generated by NBA actors outside of the Jazz franchise. 

The 2023 NBA All-Star Game shall be in Salt Lake City, a detail that multiple league sources connected to the Jazz have painted as a critical element of the franchise’s future plans. It’s of great importance to Jazz governor Ryan Smith that Utah has multiple players in that midseason classic, sources said, just like how the Cavaliers were represented by each Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen in the course of the 2022 affair in Cleveland. It is also clear that Smith is willing to financially support a contender, and Utah leadership has no designs of entering any kind of rebuild. 

Jazz staffers and various figures across the league point most directly at CAA for the whispers that appear designed to push Mitchell toward requesting a trade from Utah, particularly to Latest York. Jazz personnel took great umbrage to Knicks executives William Wesley and Allan Houston and All-Star forward Julius Randle sitting courtside during Utah’s Game 1 road win over the Dallas Mavericks in the primary round of the playoffs, sources said. 

Randle is a Dallas native, but Wesley and Knicks president Leon Rose were hired away from CAA, the agency that represents Mitchell, to pilot the franchise. And Latest York’s front office has up to now been unable to deliver the All-Star talent coups that organizations expect former agents-turned-executives corresponding to Bob Myers and Rob Pelinka to deliver. The Miami Heat are being mentioned as one other franchise that is closely monitoring Mitchell’s status in Utah. 

Nevertheless, Mitchell still has three years remaining on his lucrative contract before he could decline a $37.1 million player option in 2025-26. And the Jazz have made countless efforts to cater to Mitchell’s happiness in Salt Lake City, from trading for Mitchell’s childhood friend, Eric Paschall, to terminating vice chairman of performance health care Mike Elliott after Mitchell was frustrated when Utah’s medical staff urged to maintain him sidelined for Game 1 of the Jazz’s 2021 first-round matchup against the Grizzlies, which resulted in a loss.

Utah’s steadfast commitment to Mitchell has naturally led rival executives to color Gobert because the more likely trade candidate should the Jazz explore breaking up the duo. Dallas, Atlanta and Toronto are the potential Gobert destinations which have been discussed most amongst league personnel. But while Jazz figures have clearly recognized their roster’s need for defensive improvements, moving on from Gobert would appear directly counterintuitive to fixing those shortcomings. 

League personnel speak way more definitely of the Jazz seeking to explore moving complementary pieces corresponding to wings Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale. That would introduce All-Star point guard Mike Conley into an interesting point guard market that appears to be developing this summer.  

Utah’s Management Future

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During his end-of-season media availability Monday, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder declined to deal with his contract status with the organization. Snyder did speak continuously of his plans to further contemplate the Jazz roster with CEO Danny Ainge and general manager Justin Zanik, which made him sound quite invested in returning to Utah’s sideline. 

“I’ll meet with Danny and Justin. I’ve already done a few of that with our staff, sort of impromptu,” Snyder told reporters. “But that whole thought process is something that has yet to occur on the extent that it should. You are not satisfied, you’ve gotten aspirations to be higher and win more, and that is what we’ll attempt to do.”

The noise surrounding Snyder’s future in Utah seems to have stemmed from when he declined the Jazz’s efforts to ink him to a contract extension. Word began to swirl across the league from there. The NBA is as much a game of thrones because it is a business rooted in the game of basketball, and the potential opening to pilot a perennial playoff contender definitely sparks wandering eyes from coaches hungry for his or her first or next opportunity to steer a team. 

While it’s unclear what exactly motivated that holding pattern from Snyder, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told B/R there was some type of a disagreement between Snyder and Utah’s front office in the course of the 2021 offseason, prior to Ainge’s arrival. Snyder still has one 12 months remaining on his contract, together with a 2023-24 option that he could select to choose up or decline prior to that season. There’s loads of time to judge his own Jazz footing, especially as speculation continues to mount concerning the longevity of the Mitchell-Gobert pairing.

The conclusion of his lone remaining guaranteed 12 months, or maybe even his 2023-24 option, could perfectly align with the timing of Gregg Popovich’s eventual retirement from coaching the San Antonio Spurs. Snyder steered the Austin Toros, then-San Antonio’s G League affiliate, from 2007-10, and he has been certainly one of the numerous names linked because the Spurs’ potential successor to Popovich. 

It’s a job that seemingly every coach with Spurs ties covets, from former head coaches like Brett Brown, Jacque Vaughn and James Borrego to longtime assistants like Will Hardy. Any figure who’s overlapped with Popovich asserts that no man knows the legend’s plans for next season, not even Popovich. While he does appear motivated to return to San Antonio’s sideline for at the least another season, Popovich is thought to be currently traveling and considering his coaching future. One source told B/R that Popovich plans to go to Belgrade for the Euroleague Final 4 later in May. 

With that, there’s little expectation amongst figures near the situation that Snyder shall be departing Utah before his own contract expires. And for the entire speculation about potential front-office changes under Ainge, several league sources indicated the Jazz CEO has no imminent plans to shake up Utah’s basketball operations. 

Ainge did work alongside a small cohort during his time shepherding the Boston Celtics, but he has expressed little desire to run day-to-day activities in Utah, sources said. Prior to the 2021-22 campaign, the Jazz hired several recent front-office figures to three-year deals with team options in 2023-24.

The one persistent conversations about potential management shake-ups in Utah trace back to the concept that former Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey, who resigned last June, continues to be mentioned as a robust candidate to steer a rival franchise’s basketball operations, should a possibility emerge within the near future. In that scenario, league figures expect Lindsey would try and bring familiar Jazz faces together with him.

Knicks’ PG Options Coming Into Focus?

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The Knicks executives’ controversial appearance in Dallas also raised eyebrows due to expectation that Latest York will aggressively pursue Mavericks ball-handler Jalen Brunson as an unrestricted free agent. One source with knowledge of the Knicks front office even suggested to B/R that Latest York’s efforts before the February trade deadline were primarily geared toward freeing ample cap space to supply Brunson a competitive contract this July. 

But word of the Detroit Pistons’ interest in pairing Brunson with Rookie of the Yr finalist Cade Cunningham, just like how Brunson has thrived alongside Dallas’ supersized point-forward Luke Doncic, has been as persistent because the Knicks’ rumored desire for Brunson. 

The Indiana Pacers, who hired former Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle last offseason, are one other team known to have interest in Brunson’s services. Nevertheless, Dallas personnel have also shared a repeated confidence they are going to have the ability to retain Brunson after this strong postseason run in North Texas. 

The Pacers’ expected exploration of point guard Malcolm Brogdon’s trade market is one other looming wild card this summer. The Minnesota Timberwolves are believed to be similarly willing to gauge D’Angelo Russell’s trade value. 

Should the Knicks strike out on landing Brunson, would Conley, one other CAA client, function as a feasible Plan B? Some Latest York staffers would favor to look internally and provides second-year guard Immanuel Quickley an earnest likelihood at emerging because the team’s place to begin guard following this 12 months’s failed Kemba Walker experiment. However the Knicks could send Evan Fournier to Utah directly in exchange for Conley, bolstering the Jazz’s depleted perimeter rotation while sliding Mitchell over to point guard. 

Throughout Mitchell’s profession, Jazz personnel have deliberated which position would best optimize their All-Star playmaker, just as Houston once contemplated shifting James Harden right into a full-fledged lead ball-handling role. 

Other Point Guard Destinations

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Expected to be a number one contender for the 2022-23 championship, the Los Angeles Clippers’ loaded roster does appear to have a noticeable talent dearth at point guard beyond Reggie Jackson. Conley will turn 35 years old in October. A contending team just like the Clippers would seem like a natural landing spot for somebody of Conley’s ilk. 

A clean deal for Conley is likely to be difficult to search out without including the salary of starting center Ivica Zubac. The Clippers quietly explored Luke Kennard’s value prior to the trade deadline, but for all of his improvement, the Duke product would not exactly fulfill the Jazz’s apparent desire to upgrade on the wing defensively. 

A much simpler solution for the Clippers is likely to be waiting on the opposite side of a possible contract buyout for John Wall in Houston. While one source with knowledge of the situation insisted to B/R that the Wall-to-Miami speculation has change into outdated within the wake of the Heat’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry, the Clippers could welcome Wall on a reduced deal right into a loaded salary sheet expected to soar far above the luxury-tax threshold next season.  

Outside of Latest York and Los Angeles, the Pelicans and Wizards are the one two teams that league personnel pointed to as having clear upgrade needs of their respective backcourts. After the Wizards’ short-lived run with Spencer Dinwiddie, they’ve a transparent hole next to Bradley Beal should they achieve success in retaining the All-Star guard this summer. 

Latest Orleans has no shortage of ball-handlers who’re able to initiating offense between CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram, plus the expected return of sensational forward Zion Williamson. Yet as Devonte’ Graham slipped out of the Pelicans’ postseason rotation, league figures have mentioned the 27-year-old as a possible trade candidate this offseason. 

Latest Orleans shouldn’t be motivated to part ways with Graham because it was with Eric Bledsoe last summer, sources said. Graham’s decline in minutes in the course of the playoffs could have been more a results of injury misfortune than a personnel decision by head coach Willie Green. 

However the Pelicans’ front office has swung a major trade in a lot of the recent major transaction windows, from the trade deadline to the draft and free agency. They shall be focused on finding upgrades to their rotation, sources said, with a transparent goal of constructing off this season’s surprise postseason appearance. 

Jake Fischer has covered the NBA for Bleacher Report since 2019 and is the creator of Built to Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Modified the League Without end.

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