Lakers Legend Magic Johnson Predicts Jazz Not Done Making Moves

Sep 1, 2022, 3:32 PM
NBA player Russell Westbrook and Magic Johnson attend a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees on July 30, 2013 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Caifornia. (Photo by Jon Soohoo/Los Angeles Dodgers via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Soohoo/Los Angeles Dodgers via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson predicted that the Utah Jazz and CEO Danny Ainge aren’t done making major moves this offseason after Donovan Mitchell was traded.

The Jazz reportedly sent Mitchell, a three-time NBA All-Star, to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, September 1. The transaction came a couple of months after Utah traded fellow All-Star Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Both moves saw the Jazz receive a treasure chest of players and picks in return for Mitchell and Gobert.

In total, the Jazz got a haul of seven first round draft picks (five of which are unprotected), three pick swaps, and eight players, including Patrick Beverley, who Utah already traded to the Lakers in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson.

Following the Mitchell trade, Johnson praised Ainge for his work this offseason.

“Utah’s CEO of Basketball Danny Ainge is doing a fantastic job rearranging Utah roster and acquiring 13 unprotected or lightly protected picks,” the five-time world champion tweeted. “I don’t think he’s done yet!”

By trading Gobert and Mitchell, the Jazz have bounced out of the luxury tax and reloaded their asset cupboard with future draft picks and young players on controllable contracts. However, the franchise stills has a number of win-now veterans that could be on the move during the remaining weeks before the preseason begins.

“Utah still has coveted veteran trade asserts, including Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson and Mike Conley Jr,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shared after reporting the Mitchell deal. “They’ll approach an Oklahoma City-esque haul of draft assets once they’re done dealing.”

Could Johnson’s former club be primed to work with the Jazz on another blockbuster trade?

This offseason, the Lakers have been rumored to be looking for an outlet to move on from former MVP Russell Westbrook. Last season, Westbrook’s first season in Los Angeles, the Lakers failed to reach the playoffs after stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis dealt with injuries. Westbrook played in 78 contests, but was unable to lift the Lakers to the postseason and has been painted as a scapegoat by some as the reason for the team’s struggles.

Prior to free agency in July, Westbrook exercised his player option for the 2022-23 season and will now earn $47 million in what will be the final year of his contract.

Before Mitchell was traded, the Lakers had been rumored in a three-team deal involving the new Cavalier and the Jazz. One report that mentioned Los Angeles’ interest in Mitchell also highlighted Westbrook as a trade piece and Utah as a possible landing spot.

“The Lakers, I’m told, continue to hold firm on their position that they will agree to surrender both of their future firsts in the same deal only if the trade makes them a certified contender,” NBA insider Kurt Helin highlighted from a newsletter by Marc Stein. “Does a three-teamer that routes, say, Utah’s Bojan Bogdanović and New York’s Evan Fournier to the Lakers rise to that level?”

Two days before the Mitchell trade, KSL Sports Zone’s Scott Garrard shared a screenshot from ESPN’s Trade Machine of a potential Utah-Los Angeles deal involving Westbrook and a few of Utah’s veterans.

The possible trade deemed “successful” by ESPN would have the Lakers send Westbrook to the Jazz in exchange for Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, and Malik Beasley. The deal with likely include draft compensation as well. I assume the Jazz would look to obtain unprotected picks from the Lakers for 2027 and 2029, picks that could be extremely valuable with James nearing the end of his playing career.

“This is something that very well could be in play,” Garrard tweeted shortly after Mitchell was sent to Cleveland.

If Westbrook were to land in Utah, it’s possible that the Jazz could buy the point guard out of his contract and let him become a free agent, free to sign with another team. The move would allow the Jazz to clear more of their veteran players off the roster and onto situations more likely to compete next season. After dealing Gobert and Mitchell, the Jazz appear ready to embrace a few seasons with an eye on draft picks instead of wins.

Jazz fans, do you think Utah should work with Los Angeles on a deal for Westbrook and draft picks? Let us know by tagging @kslsports on social media.

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