‘We have a plan’: Jazz announces Mitchell trade, admits change was necessary

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) prepares to shoot free throws during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Vivent Arena in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

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SALT LAKE CITY – Danny Inge has a plan, but there is a caveat: It will take some time.

The Utah Jazz made things official on Thursday afternoon, announcing that the team had replaced Donovan Mitchell for goalkeeper Colin Sexton, forward Laurie Markanen, and junior winger Ochai Agbaji, three future first-round picks and two swaps.

It’s a deal that’s been known since Friday, but the announcement allowed the Jazz executive team to provide some ideas behind the move.

In a statement, Ainge said that for the Jazz team to compete for a title in the future, they need to make some changes now. Basically, admit that the duo of Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have peaked, and it’s time to reset. He and Justin Zanek came forward and pressed this button.

“It was clear that in order to improve our chance of creating a team that could truly compete and achieve sustainable success, we needed to move our roster,” Ainge said. “In trading Rudy and now Donovan, it was a rare opportunity to maximize our ability to source quality talent and select our best position going forward.”

Jazz now has a lot of options ahead of them. But most, if not all, will require a long rebuild. Jazz tore everything up, and now they will try to build it stronger. Ainge hinted that the process would not be quick.

“We have a plan ready to help us assemble the championship team our fans deserve,” he said. “It will take time to craft our list. We all understand the work ahead and are committed to our vision.”

Utah went out looking for first-round picks versus its stars and found them. It may take some time for any of these selectors to turn into players on a tournament hopeful list; But while the picks were the big prize, Jazz says they’re excited about the young prospects they got from Cleveland for Mitchell.

Agbaji was the 14th pick in the 2022 draft and represents the highest draft rock since Mitchell (No. 13 in 2017). Markkanen is entering his sixth season and has been one of the top players in EuroBasket 2022. Sexton, who the Jazz signed to a four-year, $72 million deal as part of the trade, averaged over 24 points in 2020-21, his last full healthy season. .

“Ochai, Laurie, and Colin are exciting young players, and we’re thrilled to add them to our list,” Zanek said in a statement. “We think it fits with the jazz culture and the strong competitive basketball brand that we’ve built here in Utah. It gives us diversity and sportsmanship on both ends of the floor as we grow into the future. We look forward to the fans getting to know them.”

It’s hard to see these fans cuddling any of them the same way they did Mitchell when he came to Utah as a smiling kid from Louisville. It brought excitement and hope back to the franchise that Gordon Hayward had just turned down. This hope, though, eventually faded away; This led to the decision to move on from the Domestic All-Star who averaged 23.9 points, 4.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds in his five seasons in Utah.

“Jazz has had many great moments with Donovan over the past five years as he has evolved into an all-star enduring,” owner Ryan Smith said in a statement. “But just as important was the lasting impact he made in Utah. He is an amazing human being and has impacted the lives of so many through his involvement in the community. Our entire organization wishes him every success in his future. Once he became a man in jazz, he was always Jazzman.” .

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Ryan Miller has covered Utah Jazz for KSL.com since 2018.

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