UTAH JAZZ

Ainge, Zanik, Smith Share Thoughts On Mitchell Trade

Sep 8, 2022, 4:32 PM
Lauri-Markkanen-Donovan-Mitchell...
Lauri Markkanen defended by Donovan Mitchell (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – One week after the Utah Jazz agreed to trade Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Danny Ainge, Justin Zanik, and Ryan Smith shared their thoughts on the blockbuster deal.

The NBA approved the trade on Saturday, but the Jazz didn’t make the move official until Thursday.

In return for Mitchell, the Jazz are acquiring veterans Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen, rookie Ochai Agbaji, three future first-round draft picks, and two pick swaps.

“The Jazz had so many great moments with Donovan over the past five years as he developed into a perennial All-Star,” Smith said in a release from the team. “But just as important was the lasting impact he made in Utah. He is an amazing human and touched the lives of so many through his engagement in the community. Our entire organization wishes him every success in his future. Once a Jazzman, always a Jazzman.”

Mitchell was acquired by the Jazz on draft night in 2017 and quickly developed into one of the prolific scorers in team history. The guard led the team in scoring each of his five seasons in Utah and never missed the playoffs.

“It was clear that in order to optimize our opportunity to create a team that could truly contend and establish sustained success, we needed to transition our roster,” Ainge said in the release.

“In trading Rudy and now Donovan, it was a rare opportunity to maximize our ability to get quality talent and picks to best position us moving forward. We have a plan in place to help us assemble the championship team our fans deserve. It will take time to craft our roster. We all understand the work ahead and are committed to our vision.”

The Mitchell trade came on the heels of a deal that sent Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves in early July. For the Jazz, it was a rapid shakeup to a roster that finished with the best record in the NBA during the 2020-21 season.

However, with a slew of new players and draft capital, Ainge and Zanik can transition to a rebuilding phase featuring the young roster.

“Ochai, Lauri and Collin are exciting young players, and we’re thrilled to add them to our roster,” Zanik said. “We believe that they fit the Jazz culture and hard-nosed, competitive brand of basketball we’ve built here in Utah. They give us versatility and athleticism on both ends of the floor as we grow toward the future. We look forward to our fans getting to know them.”

Mitchell spent five seasons with the Jazz. He appeared in 345 games with 337 starts, averaging 23.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per contest, while shooting 44 percent from the field and 36 percent from the three-point line.

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