Call it history repeating itself.
Call it déjà vu.
No matter what you call it, there’s no way to sugarcoat it — the Utah Jazz have been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round for the third time in the last four seasons.
Such sustained mediocrity usually means significant change is right around the corner. And since he’s been the team’s scapegoat, it could mean that Rudy Gobert could be traded.
Gobert is an amazing defensive presence. He’s the backbone of Utah’s defense, using his quickness and length to stifle opponents. Gobert is also always among the league leaders in blocks and rebounds. And let’s not forget about his three Defensive Player of the Year awards, a historic feat that only Dwight Howard has ever also accomplished.
But while Gobert is an elite defender, he has his faults.
He’s not a strong perimeter defender, which hurts Utah’s defense when an opponent goes small. When Gobert is pulled away from the paint, it opens up driving lanes and offensive space from three. The Los Angeles Clippers utilized this tactic in last season’s playoffs and the Dallas Mavericks just did it this postseason.
Plus Gobert just isn’t that skilled offensively. He did average 15.6 points while shooting 71.3 percent this season but his points usually come from plays at the rim. His post game is basically non-existent and he can’t knock down elbow jumpers.
Couple Gobert’s failings with the rest of Utah’s shortcomings and it could mean that a roster shakeup is destined to happen. But will the Jazz actually trade Gobert?
Let’s break it down.
Why would the Jazz trade Gobert?
Trading Gobert would be a huge move for the Jazz. It could be cataclysmic. Utah’s defense could get the Thanos snap effect.
But Gobert is an All-Star and one of the biggest names on the Jazz. Any team that is in need of defensive help would send a significant package Utah’s way just to acquire Gobert. If the Jazz want to blow it up, trading Gobert would give them players or assets to build around.
Utah could also trade Gobert because of his fit with Donovan Mitchell.
On paper, Gobert and Mitchell seem like the perfect guard-center combination. But for whatever reason, the two have never been able to become an elite tandem. Adding fuel to the fire, there consistently have been rumors and reports about how the two struggle to coexist and often don’t see eye-to-eye.
Might be something but probably nothing:
Rudy Gobert averages almost twice more passes to Donovan Mitchell (4.5) than Mitchell to Gobert (2.3) this season. pic.twitter.com/yQXfbBu6LZ
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 3, 2022
Both Gobert and Mitchell have downplayed any rift or tension. Jazz coach Quin Sndyer has also denied any animosity between Gobert and Michell.
But at the very least, the two just haven’t always clicked on the court and because of that, Utah may decide to prioritize Mitchell and trade Gobert.
Possible teams to trade for Rudy Gobert
Given his defensive prowess, Gobert would be a cherished acquisition for several teams around the league. But Gobert has a monster contract and it would take teams willing to be creative and part with a great deal of assets and players to acquire him. A third or fourth team would also likely need to be part of the trade.
With that in mind, teams like the Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors have all been reportedly interested in trading for Gobert.
Those reports were from the regular season though and after seeing the flaws of Gobert against the Mavericks in the first-round, any reported interest may have waned by now.
Rudy Gobert contract details
Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million contract extension with the Jazz in 2020. It’s the largest deal for a center in league history and he will be the 16th best-paid player in the NBA next season.
Here are the details of Gobert’s contract:
How old is Rudy Gobert?
Gobert is 29 years old. He will turn 30 years old on June 26.
Rudy Gobert career stats, awards
- 12.4 points per game
- 2.2 blocks per game
- 0.7 steals per game
- 1.3 assists per game
- 11.7 rebounds per game
- 63.8 percent from the free-throw line
- 0 percent from three
- 65.3 percent from the field
- 30 minutes per game
- 611 games total games played
- 3× NBA All-Star (2020–2022)
- All-NBA Second Team (2017)
- 3× All-NBA Third Team (2019–2021)
- 3× NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2018, 2019, 2021)
- 5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2017–2021)
- NBA rebounding leader (2022)
- NBA blocks leader (2017)