The Jazz are reportedly opposed to Reconstruction, but their apparent reasoning could set them down a dangerous path

With all the decline that has surrounded the Utah Jazz since their first-round loss to the Dallas Mavericks, it’s worth noting that this is still a two-two All-Star team in their 20s that has played 67 percent of their games in the regular season has won in the past three seasons. This is a flawed roster that probably should be shaken up, but there are far worse places to be. Utah can credibly persuade themselves to retool around Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert this offseason and perhaps plug some of the defensive holes they punched from the last two postseasons.

So it’s not surprising to hear that, according to Jake Fischer, the Jazz have no intention of rebuilding this offseason. While Gobert has been a fixture of the rumor mill for the past few months or so, and Mitchell has long been coveted by his former agents at CAA, who now run the New York Knicks, Fischer reports that the Jazz are trying to explore deals with role-player Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale and maybe Mike Conley instead of breaking up their star duo. While a more aggressive schedule would likely suit Utah better over the long term, again, this is a credible approach in the increasingly conservative world of small-market rostering. Teams like Utah hate giving away stars because finding new ones can be so difficult.

But according to Fischer, there’s an ulterior motive to potentially keeping Mitchell and Gobert, and it has little to do with the product on the pitch. No, according to Fischer, a “critical element” guiding the Jazz this offseason is the fact that they will be hosting the All-Star game next February. “It’s significant to Jazz Gov. Ryan Smith that Utah has multiple players in this midseason classic, sources said, much like how the Cavaliers were represented by both Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen during the 2022 Cleveland affair,” reports Fisher.

Utah isn’t the first small-market team to make this mistake. The Charlotte Hornets probably could have gotten a move for all-star point guard Kemba Walker in the years prior to his free agency. Instead, instead of re-signing him, they let him go for free. Why not trade him if you weren’t going to pay to keep him? While we can’t know for certain, we do acknowledge that Charlotte hosted the All-Star Game in February 2019, five months before Walker became a free agent, and at that point the All-Star Game became still past the trade deadline held . Walker served as Charlotte’s ambassador that weekend. Since then, the Hornets have not made the playoffs. Rumors suggest the Hornets were similarly busy having one of their own players in the game they hosted. Check out how this worked for her. Without the lottery luck that LaMelo Ball gave them, who knows where they would be?

The situation in Utah isn’t quite as dire yet, but far better teams have declined much faster than the Jazz are currently. Gobert, a rim protector that relies heavily on sportiness, will lose commercial value with each passing season. He will be 30 before the 2023 NBA Draft. Mitchell has three guaranteed years left on his contract. History suggests that stars with two years left want to dictate possible trading targets, they have the leverage to do so. Whatever rebuilding Utah may need to do in a year or two would be significantly more difficult than a reset is now.

Even if that weren’t the case, this is a bad process on Utah’s part. Denying a major concussion is a defensible position, but if they do, it should be for basketball reasons. There just isn’t much practical value in having Mitchell or Gobert as the unofficial hosts of the All-Star Weekend. They won’t take the opportunity to recruit more All-Stars to Utah because Stars just don’t want to play there, and even if they did, Jazz lacks the assets and space to add them. Maybe Mitchell and Gobert could help sell some extra tickets to the celebrations, but that’s not exactly a problem at All-Star Weekend.

It won’t be any easier for jazz on the court next season. Your supporting cast ages and you have limited flexibility to improve them. If they couldn’t escape a first-round series against Dallas that saw Luka Doncic miss the opening two games, how will they fare next season in what is likely to be a deeper Western Conference where the healthier Nuggets and Clippers return to championship contention? Things aren’t catastrophic in Utah just yet, but they might not be long before they are, and if the Jazz are to avoid that fate, their priority must be protecting the long-term health of their basketball team, even if it means sacrifice to bring whatever intangible value Mitchell and/or Gobert might bring to the All-Star Weekend. The Jazz are reportedly opposed to Reconstruction, but their apparent reasoning could set them down a dangerous path

Justin Scacco

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