Timberwolves land Jazz’s Rudy Gobert in NBA blockbuster
Gobert, 30, averaged 15.6 points, 14.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season, earning his third consecutive All-Star selection. However, chemistry issues between Gobert and star guard Donovan Mitchell contributed to Utah’s lackluster exit in a first-round loss to the Dallas Mavericks, and longtime Jazz coach Quin Snyder said his resignation earlier this month after eight seasons.
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For Utah, which recently hired former Boston Celtics assistant Will Hardy to be the NBA’s youngest coach at 34, the comeback package signals a long-term rebuilding plan. The Jazz did not receive an influential veteran or a proven starting caliber center to replace Gobert. Instead, Utah collected quality assets in the draft, topping the three first-round picks the Atlanta Hawks sent to the San Antonio Spurs for star guard Dejounte Murray earlier this week.
In the Jazz’s first major move since hiring Danny Ainge as CEO, the former Celtics executive has built a package reminiscent of his famous 2013 trade of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets. With Mitchell, 25, now in place as Utah’s undisputed franchise player, building another trade around the three-time star guard would allow Utah to enter a full-scale dismantling. .
The Timberwolves, led by aggressive new owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore and guided by new president Tim Connelly, have built an intriguing couple of big star men in Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. Gobert’s arrival will turn Towns into a power forward, where Minnesota can use his elite scoring ability and three-point shot. In defence, Gobert will cover Towns’ boundaries as a rim protector, although Towns will now be asked to cover more ground on the perimeter.
While Twin Towers rosters have largely fallen out of favor in the modern NBA, the Timberwolves will bet Towns and Anthony Edwards can lead an elite offense while Gobert can lead a top-10 defense, as he did. for years with Jazz. Towns, 26, signed a four-year supermax extension worth $224 million on Friday, but the three-time star player is still seeking the first playoff victory of his seven-year career. Gobert is entering the second year of a five-year, $205 million extension.
It’s no small philosophical bet for the Timberwolves, who will pay Gobert and Towns more than $71 million next season. Minnesota, which also signed versatile forward Kyle Anderson on Thursday, could still seek trade partners for guard D’Angelo Russell, but Beverley’s departure would make him harder to replace.
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