In a recent hypothetical deal offered by NBA Analysis Network’s Greg Patuto, the Clippers acquired Rudy Gobert and Rudy Gay in exchange for Ivica Zubac, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Marcus Morris and a 2028 first-round pick. The reasoning presented in the initial article revolved around the Clippers to bolster their already elite defense, while the Jazz added depth around Donovan Mitchell.
While Rudy Gobert is undisputedly the best edge guard in the NBA, what the Clippers will offer isn’t financial enough to justify his $41 million annual salary over the next four seasons. This season, Joubert has caught his opponents 50.7% from a distance of six feet from the basket, while Ivica Zubak has carried his opponents to 56.7% from the same distance. While there was a significant difference between the two big companies in that category, the clippers are less reliant on elite rim protection than the Utah Jazz.
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Much of what makes Joubert so valuable to the Utah Jazz, is his ability to deter offensive players penetrating the surrounding Utah defense. With Utah often playing multiple defenders who struggle to stay ahead of their man, Jubert’s elite edge protection provides a last line of defense for a weak team in the periphery. For a team like Utah, this is essential; However, for a team like the Clippers, they are much less important.
With one of the league’s best defenses, led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers are less dependent on internal strength than a team like Utah. Especially with the re-signing of Robert Covington, the Clippers are likely to lean heavily on their small ball options next season, prioritizing a 1-5 switching ability unattainable with Joubert.
The only area of need that Rudy Gobert will definitely help the Clippers with is recovery, as the team often struggled in that category last season. While Joubert would be subsidizing on the glass, taking his paycheck, while sending the package it would take to get it, feels like overpaying for promotion on the boards.
Part of the reason the Clippers struggled so much for the cup last season is that their junior squad were much smaller than they would have been if the team were healthy. With Kowhi Leonard out for the entire season, and Paul George missing most of the season, the Clippers were often stuck in squad lineups without the fitness of needing to contend for the trophy. When the small, healthy full squads that include Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Robert Covington and Nicholas Batum will have far fewer problems on the glass than many of the formations the Clippers have been forced to use this season.
While Joubert is an elite at what he does well, it’s hard to justify getting so much team depth in exchange for his services. While the Utah Jazz would likely find a willing business deal if they decided to take on Joubert, the Clippers seem unlikely to get involved.