The Utah Jazz agreed to trade center Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a blockbuster deal that will pair him with fellow All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Timberwolves will send Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, No. 22 pick Walker Kessler and four first-round picks to the Jazz, sources said. Utah will acquire unprotected picks in 2023, 2025 and 2027 and a top-five-protected pick in 2029, sources said, in Danny Ainge’s first franchise-altering deal since taking over as the Jazz’s CEO midseason.
The Jazz have now gathered a total of six first-round picks in a 24-hour span and plan to retool the roster around Donovan Mitchell, Utah’s 25-year-old All-Star guard.
Gobert, 30, has spent his entire nine-year career in Utah, developing from a lanky project who was drafted with the No. 27 pick in 2013 into a perennial All-Star who has been a franchise cornerstone for a team that has made six consecutive playoff appearances. The 7-foot Frenchman is one of the most decorated players in Jazz history, with three Defensive Player of the Year awards, three All-Star appearances, four All-NBA selections and six first-team All-Defensive selections.
He thanked Utah in a tweet, saying he “felt embraced and supported since day one.”
“I’ve grown as a man and as a player before your very eyes and I’m thankful [for] every single moment,” Gobert wrote. “Utah and its community will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you! The journey continues…”
Utah!!! I was just a kid from France when i got here 9 years ago… pic.twitter.com/TKmQ6tC4dH
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) July 2, 2022
Gobert is entering the second season of a five-year, $205 million contract. Towns agreed to a four-year, $224 million supermax extension at midnight Friday, the first moment he was eligible, and has a total commitment of $295 million over six years.
Gobert averaged 15.6 points, a league-leading 14.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game in 2021-22, when a tumultuous Jazz season ended with a first-round exit at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. The Jazz have not advanced past the conference semifinals in this era, and there had been tension between Gobert and Mitchell over the past few years, putting the Ainge-led front office in the position of making major changes this summer.
Coach Quin Snyder resigned last month, and the Jazz conducted an extensive search before hiring 34-year-old Boston Celtics assistant Will Hardy as Snyder’s replacement. Utah traded starting forward Royce O’Neale to the Brooklyn Nets for a 2023 first-round pick Thursday, a move that signaled the Jazz could be entering a rebuild.
Timberwolves president Tim Connelly, who was recently hired away from the Denver Nuggets after building that franchise into a perennial playoff team, has been determined to acquire a rim-protecting center to play next to Towns.
Minnesota, led by Towns and 2020 No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards, went 46-36 last season and lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs. It was only the second playoff appearance of Towns’ seven-year career, and Minnesota has yet to advance past the first round during his tenure.
Rim protection has been Minnesota’s most glaring weakness, as the Timberwolves allowed opponents to shoot 66.9% at the basket last season, ranking 25th in the NBA, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Gobert has earned a reputation as one of the premier rim protectors in NBA history, joining Dikembe Mutombo, Ben Wallace and Dwight Howard as the only players to win at least three Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Beasley and Beverley, the two most accomplished players heading to Utah in the deal, represent $28.5 million in expiring contracts, although Beasley has a $16.5 million team option for 2023-24. Vanderbilt, 23, has shown promise as a rotation player, and Bolmaro and Kessler are young first-round picks.
Beasley wished the Wolves well in a tweet following news of the trade before promising to help take the Jazz to the playoffs.
Always business. Wolves 🐺 Thank You❤️. Time to take another team 2 Playoffs
— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) July 1, 2022
Minnesota’s odds to win the NBA title moved from 80-1 to 50-1 at Caesars Sportsbook after the trade. Utah’s odds moved from 50-1 to 100-1.