Utah Jazz Pursuing Deandre Ayton After Rudy Gobert Trade?

Rudy Gobert, Deandre Ayton, Utah Jazz, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

The Utah Jazz left a lot of people perplexed when they traded Royce O’Neale to the Brooklyn Nets for a 2023 first-round pick on Thursday afternoon minutes after the reports of Kevin Durant requesting a trade from the team broke. It was reported that executives around the NBA were keeping an eye on Utah to see what plan they had up their sleeve.

The other shoe dropped, as they completed a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday afternoon. Utah is sending three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves for a package that includes three unprotected first-round picks in 2023, 2025 and 2027 and a top-five protected pick in 2029.

Both of those trades would give the impression that the Jazz is heading toward a rebuild. That is five first-round picks acquired in 24 hours, six if you include Walker Kessler, who was selected 22nd overall in the 2022 NBA Draft. 

So what exactly is the plan in Salt Lake City? It sounds like they already have their sights set on a replacement at the center spot for Gobert.

LATEST NBA FREE AGENCY AND TRADE RUMORS: Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns Mutually Desire Sign & Trade

According to John Gambadoro, the Jazz has interest in exploring a trade to land Deandre Ayton from the Phoenix Suns. It would have to be of the sign-and-trade variety as Utah has no cap space.

Danny Ainge is known for tearing down rosters upon his arrival in the front office. Could this be the next instance of that occurring? People will be keeping a close eye on how things unfold as the Utah Jazz still have one more All-Star in Donovan Mitchell that could be on the move.

At this point, nothing would be too shocking when it comes to the Jazz. They picked up two very solid rotation players in Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt from the Timberwolves as well, so they could be looking to reshape the roster around Mitchell.

LATEST NBA FREE AGENCY AND TRADE RUMORS: Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns Mutually Desire Sign & Trade

However, the O’Neale salary dump is the one thing that goes against that thinking. O’Neale was a perfect fit alongside Donovan Mitchell. Could the Deandre Ayton sign-and-trade be part of a bigger, three-team deal that results in Kevin Durant heading to the Suns, with Mitchell going to Brooklyn and the Jazz reaping a ton of draft capital?

We will have to wait and see how things unfold, but one thing is for sure; there is something brewing in Salt Lake City with the Utah Jazz.