Au revoir, Rudy: Utah Jazz trade All-Star center Gobert in franchise-altering move

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) tries to shoot over Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) during game 6 of the playoffs in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 28, 2022.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) tries to shoot over Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) during game 6 of the playoffs in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 28, 2022. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Au revoir, Rudy.

For months, the rumors and reports have circulated around the prospect of a Rudy Gobert trade. Those didn't make the news any less jarring when it finally came out.

Gobert, Utah's longtime defensive anchor, is no longer on the Jazz.

In a franchise-altering move, Utah is moving the All-NBA center and three-time Defensive Player of the Year to the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

In exchange, Utah will get wing Malik Beasley, veteran guard Patrick Beverley, forwards Jarred Vanderbilt and Leandro Bolmaro, rookie center Walker Kessler — the No. 22 pick in the 2022 draft — and four future first-round picks.

Those picks will be Minnesota's 2023, 2025, and 2027 unprotected first-round selections, plus a top-five protected pick in 2029. The Athletic reported the deal also comes with a pick swap in 2026.

It's a haul, no doubt. The Jazz got five first-round picks (plus a swap) and usable (or at least movable) players. But it's hardly a win-now move — at least not yet.

Utah, though, isn't done yet. Multiple reports have stated that the team doesn't plan to move on from All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell. So trading Gobert won't usher in a full-on rebuild for the franchise; it plans to re-tool around its All-Star guard.

Whether that re-tool includes Beasley, Beverly or Vanderbilt remains to be seen as the Jazz could flip those players in potential other deals.

Gobert, 30, has been a franchise cornerstone for much of the last decade. He's been to three All-Star Games, won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and made four All-NBA teams.

He has spent his entire nine-season career with the Jazz, developing from a young project center who Utah traded for on draft night in 2013, into one of the best defenders of his generation and of all time. He's been one of the league's best players over the last half decade.

The Jazz built their entire defensive identity and their offensive system around Gobert's abilities. In the 2021-22 season, he led the NBA in rebounds (14.7) and FG% (71.3%), while also averaging 15.6 points and 2.1 blocks, and was once again a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million contract before the 2020-21 season, and spoke openly about wanting to bring a championship to Utah. But the last months of his time in Utah were defined by his ongoing feud with Mitchell.

It was Gobert who was labeled "Patient Zero" of the COVID-19 pandemic after he was the first NBA player to test positive of the then-novel coronavirus in 2020. Once Mitchell tested positive the next day, a schism in the relationship was revealed, with The Athletic famously stating is was "not salvageable." The relationship eventually mended — at least for a time — and the Jazz were able to go on a historic run during the 2020-21 season, finishing the year with the league's best record.

But after a playoff collapse against the Clippers, the cracks in the relationship showed up again. Last season Gobert made veiled and not-so-veiled comments in the media over the course of a disappointing campaign which drew ire from players and even his head coach, who said he'd like those comments to be made in a different forum.

With that as the build, another first-round exit paved the way for change.

That change came on Friday.

Beasley and Beverley are both on expiring deals that equal $28.5 million (Beasley has a $16.5 million team option for 2023-24), so they are valuable assets to be had if the Jazz do want to move them. If not, they are serviceable players.

Beasley is a two-way wing that averaged 12.1 points on 37% 3-point shooting last season, and Beverley is known for his aggressive on-ball defense.

Vanderbilt is a young (turned 23 in April) wing that has upside, while Bolmaro (2020 — and still just 21) and Kessler are young first-round picks.

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Ryan Miller has covered the Utah Jazz for KSL.com since 2018.

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