2021-22 record: 49-33
The main additions: Colin Sexton (trading), Laurie Markkanen (trading), Ochai Agbaji (trading), Tallinn Horton Tucker (trading), Stanley Johnson (trading), Malik Beasley (trading), Leandro Bolmaro (trading), Jared Vanderbilt (trading), Walker Kessler (trading), Simon Fonteque (freelance agency), coach Will Hardy
Key subtraction operations: Donovan Mitchell (trading), Rudy Gobert (trading), Patrick Beverly (trading), Royce O’Neill (trading), coach Quinn Snyder
Last season: The Jazz had another respectable season, racking up 50 wins before losing in the playoffs with the Dallas Mavericks losing in the first round. Both were what we’d expect from Utah in the Snyder/Jobert/Mitchell era: a very good regular season team revealed in the postseason. When this happens a few times, privileging can become stressful and afraid to max out. Other than Mitchell (an All-Star for the third year in a row) and Gobert (a finalist for this year’s Kia Defensive Player of the Year), Utah didn’t have a transformative year from anyone else on the list. Fan favorite and three-point striker Joe England was named the season after 45 games (knee surgery) and was handed out to Portland in February. Watching from nearby was the newly appointed chief of basketball operations Danny Aing, a man who had been proactive in the position with Boston.
Summer Summary: Jazz brought in Ainge, a former BYU star, because the new ownership group – led by Ryan Smith, who has a long friendship with Ainge – wanted an experienced, successful, important executive who took note and acted accordingly.
– NBA TV (NBATV) 7 September 2022
Once he laid out Ainge’s vision for the immediate future, Snyder resigned as coach after eight seasons on the job. Snyder clearly did not want to be part of the rebuilding process and noted Utah’s need to have “a new voice to continue evolving.” He’s basically taking a career break, but his exit wasn’t the change of summer.
Anyone with a basketball in their brain can see a lack of chemistry between Joubert and Mitchell, a pair of superstars and stars who no longer fit together. This was evident every time Mitchell passed the ball to Joubert, saw him stammer at it, and then Mitchell’s body language formed a four-letter word. Nothing was ever spoken in public, but you knew.
Roughly a month after Snyder resigned, Joubert was distributed to Minnesota in a move reminiscent of Ainge’s days in Boston. In 2013, Ainge took on then-Celtics stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the desperate Brooklyn Nets and took home a first-round pick, with current Celtics stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum among future accolades. This time, Ainge pressured Timberwolves for a ransom.
Utah now has nine first-tier Wolves and Cavs players if you include Kessler and Agbaji, both taken in the 2022 NBA draft. Jazz had unprotected picks in 2023, 2025, and 2027, five protected positions in 2029 and a swap in 2026 from Wolves vs. Gobert. They acquired initial unprotected runs in 2025, 2027 and 2029 and two selective swaps (2026 and 2028) from Cavs in favor of Mitchell. Oh, and six players besides Kessler and Agbege are in the deal, too.
Thanks in part to Ainge, Jazz has been able to control an initial 18 rounds (including their own) between now and 2029. Best of all, it sold out high at Gobert. There’s a good chance no other team will bring many assets back to Utah for a center, despite being a key edge protector, providing a limited offense and a 30-year-old with a massive contract.
As soon as Joubert was out, the clock on Mitchell started. If Ainge could get that much money for Joubert, wouldn’t Mitchell, who is only 25, bring in more? And besides, why keep Mitchell when it looks like the team, as it is built, is headed to the lottery? Why not set yourself up for a chance of getting the first pick overall, like the San Antonio Spurs apparently do, and a shot at Victor Wimpanyama, the 7-foot-tall French teenager?
After driving a tough deal across the league and courting the New York Knicks, Ainge finds a hire for Mitchell in Cleveland. And the prize is Sexton, who missed most of last season after knee surgery but was a strong attacking player before the injury. Additionally, it was immediately extended by Utah in a friendly with the team for four years and $72 million.
Maybe Ainge is not finished and why stop at Mitchell and Gobert? There is a good chance that the remaining returning assets will be redirected as well. Bojan Bogdanovich, Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson may want to keep a real estate agent in quick contact.
Ainge has commissioned Hardy, 34, to lead the Jazz and Inge is a well-known former Celtics assistant coach. It’s a good starting point given how little pressure Hardy will feel right from the start.
Ainge also redirected Beverly from Gobert’s trade because he meant nothing for the rebuilding project, and sent him to the Lakers for Horton-Tucker and Johnson hoping they could rebuild their reputation. Meanwhile, Kessler, Agbaji and Vanderbilt are the kind of young projects that Jazz hopes to collect and develop.
Whew. Overall, it was a seismic summer for a franchise that lacked a history of changes. But it’s time to take a deep breath… and two steps back.
next one: San Antonio Spurs | previously: Dallas Mavericks
> 30 teams in 30 days: full schedule
* * *
Sean Powell has covered the NBA for over 25 years. You can email him Here, find his archive here and follow him Twitter.
The opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the National Basketball Association, its clubs, or Turner Broadcasting.