The NBA’s Dearly Departed: Utah Jazz Edition

As teams in the NBA Playoffs get eliminated, Murphy’s Multiverse takes a look at their prospects for next season. The Utah Jazz had a lot riding on their 2021-2022 season after multiple disappointing playoff losses in the last 5 years. This was a year to determine if the duo of All-Stars, Donavon Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, is one capable of finally bringing a championship to Utah. Famously, Mitchell stated at the beginning of the season that he will not settle for anything less than reaching the Conference Finals. A goal that wasn’t realistic to begin with given their roster make-up. Can the Jazz finally put to together a roster that will propel them past the 2nd round in the Playoffs?

Notable Free Agents

  • Guard Trent Forrest (Restricted)
  • Forward Danuel House
  • Forward Eric Paschall
  • Center Hassan Whiteside

Projected 2022-2023 Starting Lineup

  • PG Mike Conley
  • SG Donovan Mitchell
  • SF Bojan Bogdanovic
  • PF Royce O’Neale
  • C Rudy Gobert

The Rudy Gobert/Donavan Mitchell Conundrum

The relationship between Mitchell and Gobert seems to have reached a breaking point on and off the court with both players taking subtle (and not so subtle) swipes at each other after various disappointing losses throughout the season. In the NBA, winning always seems to fix everything but with constant disappointing playoff losses, it’ll be very unlikely that the team can move forward with both stars on the roster. Which one the Jazz should trade is the most important question. Mitchell is a gifted scorer that’s able to light it up in bursts and give his team a strong offensive weapon, but his lack of strong growth as a playmaker limits the Jazz and his lack of size at 6’1 makes him a consistent defensive liability on the perimeter. Gobert on the hand is one of the best defensive centers in the league whose presence down low forces opponents to jack up jump shots instead of attempting to get to the rim, but unfortunately, he’s easy to scheme against as his lack of foot speed and lateral quickness makes him a huge liability against opposing pick and roll offense.

Lack of Off-Season Flexibility

The unfortunate truth in the NBA is that small market teams have a hard time attracting free agents and must typically overpay for talent to get them to agree to sign there. The Jazz badly needs perimeter defense as Mike Conley is now washed and Mitchell is too small to truly be a defensive threat. The unfortunate truth is that with three large contracts on the books, they really don’t have the flexibility to sign meaningful free agents. The Jazz is between a rock and a hard place, and they will have to blow up this roster with trades in order to truly make an off season impact.

Quin Snyder’s Future

Snyder has been the coach of the Jazz since 2014 with a positive win percentage. He’s a good and successful coach in a league that has a deficit of good coaching talent, but unless you’re Greg Popovich or Erik Spoelstra, the coach is typically the first one to go when a team is in turmoil. With Mitchell and Gobert both signed to long term contracts, I can see a scenario in which the Jazz chooses starting fresh with a new coach as a band aid fix for their massive problems.

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