What's going on in Utah? A complete and total rebuild.
The dismantling of the Jazz continued on Thursday as Utah traded Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, three first round picks and two pick swaps, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The 25-year-old Mitchell, an All-Star in each of the last three seasons, averaged 25.9 points, 5.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds last season. Mitchell has four years and $134.9 million remaining on the extension he signed in 2020, which includes a $37.1 million player option in the final year of the deal.
Charania reported that Sexton is signing a four-year, $72 million contract with Utah through a sign-and-trade. The eighth overall pick in the 2018 draft, Sexton has averaged 20.0, 3.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds in his career. He played just 11 games last season before suffering a torn ACL.
The New York Knicks had been considered one of the favorites to land Mitchell, but Ian Begley of SNY reported that they were unwilling to part with three unprotected first-round picks in a package for the All-Star.
The move comes two months after the Jazz dealt their other star, Rudy Gobert, to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Walker Kessler, Leandro Bolmaro and four future first-round picks.
By trading Mitchell and Gobert, the Jazz have accumulated 13 unprotected or lightly-protected picks through 2029, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported.
The team's path toward rebuilding began when head coach Quinn Snyder stepped down in early June following a season in which the team was eliminated in the first round for the third time in four years.
The Jazz then traded starting forward Royce O'Neale to the Brooklyn Nets for a first-round pick on June 30, the first day of free agency. The surprising, salary-dump move led to ESPN's Brian Windhorst saying league executives were questioning "What's going on in Utah?" during his now-infamous, meme-generating rant.
Windhorst hinted that it was a move potentially signaling an impending rebuild. Utah's offseason moves followed the same pattern that Danny Ainge, now an executive with the Jazz, displayed in 2013 while with the Boston Celtics by hiring first-time coach Brad Stevens and trading stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
"This season wasn't very much fun this year," Ainge said of the Jazz during Summer League on July 9. "This draft wasn't fun. Free agency wasn't very much fun. You're over the tax, no draft picks, and our team loses in the first round. It wasn't fun for us. We want it to be fun for our fans and our players, but we just haven't had much flexibility to do anything over the last little while."
The Jazz hired Celtics assistant Will Hardy as their head coach on June 28, making the 34-year-old the league's youngest active head coach.
Days later, the team traded the 30-year-old Gobert, a three-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, who had four years and $170 million left on his deal. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported at the time of the trade that the Jazz intended to rebuild around Mitchell.
The Jazz changed their tune on July 12, with Woj reporting that Utah started showing a willingness to listen to possible trade scenarios involving Mitchell, who over his five-year career has averaged 23.9 points, 4.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds.
Mitchell was selected 13th overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 2017 NBA Draft and traded to the Jazz for Tyler Lydon and Trey Lyles. Mitchell and Gobert had guided the Jazz to the postseason in each of the last six seasons, but the team has been unable to advance beyond the second round.