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Jazz GM Zanik says “there’s no intent” to trade Donovan Mitchell

Minnesota Timberwolves v Utah Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 26: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz looks on during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 26, 2020 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Good luck finding anyone around the NBA — front office member, agent, fan, all the way down to the teens with the mops wiping up the sweat off the floor — who thinks Donovan Mitchell will be a member of the Utah Jazz a year from now.

However, the Jazz continue to insist he is not available, and they want to rebuild around him. The latest emphasis of that storyline comes from Jazz general manager Justin Zanik (the right hand to CEO Danny Ainge), speaking during the Las Vegas Summer League, via Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune.

“Change is inevitable in the NBA. I’m not trying to be cryptic or anything else,” he said. “Donovan is on our roster and he’s a very, very important part of what we’re trying to do. Things evolve in the NBA, so I couldn’t sit here and say anybody is [untouchable]. We’re trying to build a championship team. But there’s no intent there [to trade him].”

“No intent” is just vague enough to keep the door open.

Utah’s actions over the past few months make it clear they are on a path toward a rebuild, that they felt the Mitchell/Gobert Jazz had run their course and we had seen the best of it (and that wasn’t good enough).

Utah’s actions? Not only was Rudy Gobert traded to Minnesota, but the haul back was a cornerstone of a rebuild with four first-round picks, a pick swap, and Walker Kessler, the No. 22 pick in the most recent draft. Then there was trading Royce O’Neal — one of Mitchell’s best friends on the team — to Brooklyn. Utah didn’t extend a qualifying offer to Mitchell’s other close friend on the team Eric Paschall. Quin Snyder left as coach and was replaced by 34-year-old Will Hardey, who has no head coaching experience at any level and is more a development guy than a win-now guy. All of that is piled on the foundation of Danny Ainge’s history of blowing rosters up.

This Jazz roster, as currently constructed, is likely battling for a bottom play-in seed, but with Mitchell it is good enough to avoid falling to the bottom of the West. Maybe, with the All-Star Game coming to Utah next February, keeping Mitchell around makes sense to management. Plus, with the flattened lottery odds of the last few years, they may not have to bottom out to jump up the board.

Other teams see all that and call about Mitchell, with the Heat and Knicks the most prominently mentioned teams. So far, those talks have not gone anywhere, but that could be because nobody is offering what the Jazz seek in a trade — and based on the Gobert trade haul, they are asking a lot.

Utah’s management — and Mitchell himself — may say they are not looking to trade the All-Star wing, but actions speak louder than words. And their actions suggest the Jazz aren’t done dealing. It just may not move that quickly.

And up until the moment they announce a deal, expect the Jazz front office to deny their intent to trade Mitchell.