Should the Jazz regret trading Donovan Mitchell?

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers, Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers, Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz are entering their second year of what was expected to be a rebuild after the departure of their former star, Donovan Mitchell. Despite the Jazz’s somewhat successful retooling after the Mitchell trade, was it the right decision for Utah to part ways with their former lottery pick?

While there’s no right or wrong answer, there’s definitely room for debate.

Should the Jazz regret trading Donovan Mitchell?

The Jazz selected Mitchell with the 13th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. The Louisville star took the league by storm in his rookie season, averaging 20.5 points, 3.7 assists, and 3.7 rebounds on 43.7% shooting from field goal range and 34.0% from three. In 71 games, Mitchell made it clear that a new star was born in Salt Lake City.

Utah and the 6-foot-1 playmaker seemed like a match made in heaven in the early parts of his career. The Jazz’s head coach at the time, Quin Snyder, managed to build an adequate roster around Mitchell and former Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, making the Jazz seemingly contenders year in and year out. However, despite Utah remaining competitive on a yearly basis and even finishing as the No. 1 seed in the West in 2021, the Jazz never seemed to get over the hump, a clear reason for the team’s downfall.

When Jazz CEO Danny Ainge returned to his roots in Utah and took over, his first order of business was clear; the roster would look much different moving forward. Ainge wasted no time trading Gobert to the Timberwolves in a massive blockbuster trade, bringing the Jazz an abundance of draft compensation and players.

Many wondered if Ainge moved Gobert due to Mitchell and the French center’s previous conflict, but not long after, Mitchell found himself on the market as well. The All-Star found himself in rumors and, at one point, believed he was destined to be a New York Knick. Up until the Cleveland Cavaliers swooped in and enticed Ainge, there was a package that would send Mitchell to the Cavaliers, ending his era in Utah. In 345 games with the Jazz, Mitchell averaged 23.9 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.2 rebounds.

Now, moving forward, it’s fair to look at Utah’s current situation after Mitchell’s career-year in Cleveland, where he averaged 28.3 points per game, and wonder if the Jazz made the right decision. Would the team be closer to contention? How would the roster look today if Mitchell was on it? These are questions we will never know the answer to, but one thing is for certain: Utah landed on its feet a lot sooner than many expected.

The Jazz finished their first season without Mitchell 37-45, and despite the record, the team developed a newfound star in Lauri Markkanen under a young and brilliant head coach in Will Hardy. Along with that, Utah managed to position themselves to draft two studs in the 2023 NBA Draft in Taylor Hendricks and Keyonte George. Not to mention the team’s cap space and future draft compensation moving forward.

While it’s hard to know what could be now in Utah if Mitchell was still on the roster, it feels safe to say the Jazz bit the bullet and allowed the team to position themselves in a good spot for the future.

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