For the Utah Jazz, the NBA’s COVID-19 outbreak came with some especially nasty side-effects. After being diagnosed with the virus, it became a major scandal for Jazz big man Rudy Gobert. Days before his diagnosis, he was caught being careless and joking about the preventative measures that were being taken at the time.
Needless to say, he put his team at risk and it was only hours later that Donovan Mitchell was also confirmed to have had COVID-19. Reports indicated major frustration and anger from Mitchell towards Gobert — feels that have seemingly remained strong even to today.
If the situation continues to sour, we could see Utah prepare to move on from the star big man. As one of the best defensive players in the league, many teams will join the pursuit of Gobert — including the Indiana Pacers.
According to Bleacher Report’s Gregg Swartz, the Pacers may step up with an offer involving Myles Turner and Doug McDermott.
Both centers could be looking for a change of scenery, and neither the Utah Jazz nor the Indiana Pacers will be looking to dump them for draft picks since both are in the thick of their conference’s playoff race.
Turner is a fan favorite, but it would be difficult to refuse a potential pairing of Gobert and Sabonis in the frontcourt.
Gobert is the better of the two, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and one-time All-Star who’s led the league in blocks per game and field-goal percentage. The Jazz are 9.0 points per 100 possessions better with the 27-year-old center in the game this season, and he’s averaging 15.1 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
If Sabonis can continue to develop his outside shot, he and Gobert could grow into one of the best frontcourts in the East.
For the Jazz, while Turner is a vastly different player, he’s cheaper and younger than Rudy and could be worth the gamble if he continues to grow his game.
For Utah, Turner is almost four years younger and under contract for the next three seasons at $18 million per year. He’s already led the NBA in blocks (2.7 per game in 2018-19) and is a better outside shooter than Gobert (career 35.4 percent from three). The Jazz would no longer have to worry about losing Gobert in 2021 free agency or about any potential chemistry problems in the locker room between him and Donovan Mitchell.
As for the state of the NBA season, nobody really knows how things are going to play out. As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to slow down, it’s looking promising that we might see action resume in the summer.
If that’s the case, however, what kind of team will we see in Utah? Will this break be enough time for them to work out their issues, or will a trade like the one illustrated above become more probable? We may find out soon.