With the season pretty much over for some of the NBA’s marquee franchises, it’s time for yet another edition of our trade rumor rankings series, where we rank the five players who have appeared most on our Trade page over the past week.
This week’s edition is a doozy, as star duos from both the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz made the cut, with the former’s season over and not much expected out of the latter’s at this point.
To catch the action, just scroll below.
Donovan Mitchell (Utah)
Look away, Jazz fans.
Rumors have been hot and heavy all season regarding there being at least some level of turmoil behind the scenes in Utah, particularly surrounding Donovan Mitchell and his relationship with Rudy Gobert, and considering the team is going through its worst campaign in a long while, the scuttle is only to get heavier, especially if Utah is bounced quickly from the upcoming playoffs, as many expect.
Recently, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon was pretty definitive about his belief that Mitchell will not be spending his entire career in Utah (via the Lowe Post podcast):
Tim McMahon appeared on “The Lowe Post” podcast and discussed the struggling Jazz before dismissing the idea (at the 1:15:50 mark) that Mitchell will stay with the team. “The idea that Donovan Mitchell is going to spend his entire his career in Utah is absolutely ridiculous,” McMahon said. “That’s one of the things that’s staring them in the face this summer. That’s also one of the things that has been looming over this franchise all season long.”
MacMahon would continue:
Donovan Mitchell’s future with the Utah Jazz is uncertain, and it appears a number of teams have been gearing up to attempt to acquire the veteran guard. “Other teams have been planning to make a run at Donovan Mitchell all season long,” ESPN’s Tim McMahon said on The Lowe Post podcast (1-hour, 23-minute mark).
One of those teams is the New York Knicks, who were bandied about as a potential Mitchell suitor this very season.
It would be easy for Jazz fans to dismiss these notions as the typical anti-small market scuttle, but considering the very public, passive-aggressive sniping between Mitchell and Gobert that has gone on this campaign, there appears to be some semblance of truth about the turmoil currently ongoing in Salt Lake City.
This upcoming playoff is about to be very interesting for the Jazz.
For the latest on the Donovan Mitchell trade front, click here.
Anthony Davis (LA Lakers)
After ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said last week that he believes the Lakers might at least discuss an Anthony Davis trade this offseason, the opposite was reported by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, who wrote this week:
Los Angeles will be limited in its options for turnover outside of the coaching staff. While some rival executives around the league have wondered about the Lakers’ willingness to discuss trading All-Star forward Anthony Davis this offseason, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation refuted that option will seriously be on the table for Los Angeles brass.
Regardless, word of Windhorst’s report must have gotten back to Davis anyway, as the big man opened up to ESPN about hearing his name attached to trade rumors:
“I can’t control those things,” Davis told ESPN after the Lakers loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, which eliminated L.A. from play-in tournament contention. “That’s an upstairs thing. A Klutch, Rich Paul thing. My agency. “I mean, my job is to go out and play basketball. Obviously I love it in L.A. If that’s something that they’re considering, then we’ll have a conversation about it. I don’t know what they’re talking about, what’s the plan.”
Davis would continue to say he truly has no idea what the Lakers’ plan for him is:
To be clear, Davis has no indication that the Lakers will trade him, but as a 10-year NBA veteran, he is aware how the league works. “I mean, I don’t think they’re planning on doing anything [with me],” he said. “I don’t know, man. F—, I don’t know.”
A Davis trade seems unlikely, as although he has been quite injury-prone over the past couple of years, he remains just 29 and one of the most impactful two-way big men… when healthy.
If L.A. believes he’ll have better luck health-wise going forward, they will likely opt to keep Davis, who is under contract through 2024-25, and try to build another contender around both he and LeBron James.
For the latest on the Anthony Davis trade front, click here.
Rudy Gobert (Utah)
There hasn’t bene anything concrete on the Gobert trade front indicating that the Jazz might actually considering trading their All-NBA big man this summer, but that hasn’t stopped speculation about potential trade destinations for the French center arising.
First, ESPN’s MacMahon reported that the Dallas Mavericks would be significantly interested in Gobert if he were put up for trade:
The Dallas Mavericks reportedly would have “significant interest” in Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert if the team were to make him available, according to Tim MacMahon on the Lowe Post podcast. It also sounds like Gobert would love to play with Mavericks star Luka Doncic.
Imagine Gobert catching lobs from a guard in Luka Doncic who would actually pass the ball to him? That would be fun to witness.
Further, veteran NBA scribe Marc Stein agreed with MacMahon that Dallas would be interested in Gobert while adding another team that could pop up as a potential suitor, the Toronto Raptors:
Marc Stein on Rudy Gobert: I agree with Tim (MacMahon), Dallas would certainly be interested. Toronto, we know they’ve been after a big for a long time. I can imagine the Raptors showing interest there. It will be more than those two teams, for sure.
Whatever does happen with Utah over the coming month in its 2021-22 playoff run could have huge implications on the team’s future, both short- and long-term.
It’s about to be a nerve-wracking team time to be a Jazz fan, barring an unexpected deep playoff run.
For the latest on the Rudy Gobert trade front, click here.
Russell Westbrook (LA Lakers)
Lakers fans may not want to read this, but according to Russell Westbrook, his hope is to run it back next season in Los Angeles:
Westbrook wants to run it back and see what the Lakers could do with improved health. “That’s the plan, but nothing is promised,” Russ said. “Like I said all season long: you gotta play the cards you’re dealt. Yes — we want to be able to see what that looks like, what that entails over the course of an 82-game season. But we’re not sure if that’s guaranteed neither. So, I just hope that we have a chance to be able to do something in the future.”
The odds of that happening are slim, of course, as the Lakers will undoubtedly be shopping their expensive, aging point guard this summer in hopes of upgrading the roster around James and Davis.
Still, according to reports, James isn’t getting out of this totally scot-free, as Bleacher Report said this week that some of the blame internally in Los Angeles is falling at James’ feet for pressuring the team to trade for the former league MVP:
The buzz around the league suggests general manager Rob Pelinka has another year to get the Lakers back on track. The blame internally appears to be focused on injuries, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James for pressuring the team to trade for Westbrook.
Tough to totally blame James for that, as Rob Pelinka and Co. could have simply told the four-time MVP ‘no’ and proceeded with trying to acquire Buddy Hield or DeMar DeRozan.
Regardless, according to Stein, the Lakers will have more options to trade Westbrook this summer, as the Charlotte Hornets, with an expensive couple of contracts of their own, could be a suitor for the triple-double machine:
Charlotte has been increasingly mentioned by league insiders as a team to watch on the Westbrook front. All-Star guard LaMelo Ball is firmly ensconced as the Hornets’ face of the franchise and on-the-ball star, but one scenario making the rounds is a belief that the Hornets could emerge with Westbrook interest in the name of creating some financial flexibility. Gordon Hayward has two seasons left on a four-year, $120 million contract and has appeared in only 49 of Charlotte’s 79 games this season. Terry Rozier has performed well this season, with an above-average PER of 17.36, but next season is Year 1 of a four-year, $97 million extension.
Stein also mentioned the potential of L.A. re-opening talks with the Houston Rockets on a Westbrook-for-John Wall swap, as well as the Lakers now having their 2029 first-round pick to use as a sweetener as avenues for the purple-and-gold franchise to move on from Westbrook:
The Lakers gain the ability to trade an additional future first-round pick in 2029 in July after having only the 2027 first to shop at the deadline, which increases their optionality with Houston or any other potential trade partner. It’s also conceivable that the Rockets, plenty weary of their own saga with Wall, could lessen their demands (two second-rounders?) as both Wall and Westbrook enter the final year of their current contracts. Unless the Rockets think they can trade Wall elsewhere, these discussions are bound to be renewed.
Whatever route the Lakers do take, there’s no question the team is in need of a fresh start next season. Will that make trading Westbrook easy? No, but it’s something that might have to be done for the immediate betterment of the team.
For the latest on the Russell Westbrook trade front, click here.