The Utah Jazz appears to be entering a rebuilding phase, and the Boston Celtics may benefit.
All-NBA center Rudy Gobert was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday in exchange for a number of players and four first-round picks. The move is apparently part of a domino effect hinted at by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst in his “First Take” appearance Friday, in response to Royce O’Neale’s Jazz trade to the Brooklyn Nets for a first-round pick.
As Windhorst suggested, President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge mirrors his strategy in 2013 when he sold Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets to kickstart a rebuild for the Celtics that eventually led to current title contenders Boston.
The Jazz have reportedly hired Celtics assistant Will Hardy as their next head coach, and Hardy will apparently be tasked with guiding Utah through rebuild much like Brad Stevens had to do when he was hired in 2013.
Donovan Mitchell in a Celtics uniform would be an enticing prospect, but giving up big assets for the All-Star guard wouldn’t be wise. Boston has a $17.1 million traded player exemption and will need to use it soon as it expires on July 18. Here are two players on the Jazz that the Celtics can target with their TPE.
The eight-year NBA veteran has been with Utah for two and a half seasons since being traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2019-20 season. While guard doesn’t appear to be a necessity after the Celtics were reportedly traded for Malcolm Brogdon on Friday, having more offense off the bench would help.
Payton Pritchard is just 24 and will be entering his third season in the league but if he fails to develop further Clarkson would be good insurance. Ironically, Clarkson is an ideal target for Pritchard to shape his career after – a high-scoring goalscorer off the bench who can offer moderate production on the defensive end.