It’s time for another edition of our Trade Rumor Rankings series where we rank the five players who have appeared most often on our Exchange page over the past week.
This week, the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers, the two teams already more in the running for the 2021-22 NBA championship, are in a good place.
Without further ado, let’s jump in.
D’Angelo Russell (Minnesota)
It was a brutal playoff display for D’Angelo Russelwho shrank when his team needed him most, averaging just 12.0 points on meager shooting fractions of 33.3/38.7/75.0 percent, even getting benched late in the game Game 6 with the Minnesota Timberwolves season on the line.
Russell wasn’t happy with the bench either, although he said he didn’t want to make a fuss about it:
According to Mark Steinthe Timberwolves should try to find a new home for Russell this offseason, even despite his great relationship with his pick-and-roll partner Karl Anthony Towns (Going through Sub-stack):
The future of another top left-handed leader in the West is much more uncertain after Minnesota’s first-round exit. D’Angelo Russell found himself on the bench at the critical moment in the Timberwolves’ Game 6 loss at home to Memphis and averaged just 12.0 points per game out of 33.3 Shooting % in his second career playoff series. Many rival teams expect Wolves to attempt to trade Russell this offseason, regardless of Russell’s close relationship with Minnesota star Karl-Anthony Towns. Russell, 26, has one season left on his contract at $31.4 million.
Russell is heading into a contract year, which will net him $31.4 million next season, making him the 33rd highest paid NBA player next year (from now). With so much money owed, it may prove difficult for Minnesota to find a new home for the left-handed general, but his regular-season production was solid enough that it wasn’t an impossible task either.
For the latest news on the D’Angelo Russell business front, Click here.
Russell Westbrook (LA Lakers)
One of the superstar names most likely to be moved this summer is that of Russell Westbrookformer league MVP and current scapegoat for all Los Angeles Lakers basketball woes.
Stirring up some of the drama himself, Westbrook recently liked a comment on his own Instagram post from a fan asking him to find a new home for next season:
In addition to that, Westbrook deleted any posts of him wearing a Lakers jersey from his Instagram page as well:
The nine-time All-NBA player cut all positions with him in a Lakers jersey. The only thing with Russ depicted in purple and gold that remains is his profile picture. It’s a very intentional move. When you have 19.4 million followers, people are going to notice that you’re deleting loads of photos. Especially those of you who play for the team you are currently under contract with.
Whatever the future of the triple-double machine is, it’s clear that it will only likely come with him donning the prestigious purple and gold uniform.
For the latest on Russell Westbrook’s business front, Click here.
Jordan Clarkson (Utah)
Changes could be brewing for the Utah Jazz after another disappointing start to the season. Whether that means a full sell-out or just a shake-up remains to be seen, but what’s for sure is that the roster will look different next season.
One of the players who could be affected is the former Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson, who was asked about his future at Utah at the season-ending press conference. Clarkson responded to questions by saying he really doesn’t know what to expect this offseason:
Clarkson performed admirably in the playoffs, averaging 17.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in six games while shooting 54.8 percent from the floor. This, coupled with his attractive salary – we owe him $13.3 million next season and has a player option for the following year, worth just $14.3 million – could make Clarkson a powerhouse in the commercial market if his name is put on the block.
For the latest news on the Jordan Clarkson business front, Click here.
Rudy Gobert (Utah)
Waves were stirred in the NBA blogosphere this week when a report came out stating that Rudy Gobert has a him or me attitude towards next season regarding his star teammate Donovan Mitchell and demands that one of them be exchanged.
Now, the source can’t be considered super reliable, as he’s not known as an NBA reporter, but it still made enough noise for Gobert to answer the rumor himself:
Be that as it may, there is no doubt that Gobert or Mitchell could get moving this offseason with how Utah’s season just ended after years of playoff futility.
If Gobert is put on the block, a team that could be interested in the French defensive specialist are the Golden State Warriors, according to ESPN Tim McMahon:
Tim McMahon: “I know Rudy Gobert and Draymond Green have a great relationship… Possibilities for Golden State?” Brian Windhorst: ‘I heard that rumor over there… I guess it would be based on Andrew Wiggins… I don’t know. If the Warriors win the title, I don’t know if they’re looking for a major upset. But the Warriors don’t have that size and they have young players and they have the Wiggins contract. … I don’t think they should be considered a leader, but I think it’s on the board. I certainly heard that.
Nevertheless, we are currently on hold regarding the future of Gobert, because Tony Jones reported this week that the Jazz are awaiting their exit interview with Gobert before deciding how to proceed this offseason:
Could it be the offseason when we see Utah choose between Gobert and Mitchell? We will find out soon enough.
For the latest news on Rudy Gobert’s business front, Click here.
Donovan Mitchell (Utah)
Which brings us to Mitchell.
There’s a lot to be said for Mitchell, so let’s get to it.
According to Jones, the Jazz want to build around Mitchell, indicating that they don’t want to start a full rebuild (Going through Athleticism):
That’s not the plan, according to multiple sources — at least initially. The Jazz, sources say, are committed to building around Donovan Mitchell, which means stepping back is not an option. Utah would like to continue climbing the mountain to contention, and the Jazz feel like they’re still not that far off, despite this season’s disappointment.
Meanwhile, MacMahon reported that rival teams are gearing up in anticipation of Mitchell asking to leave Utah (Going through ESPN):
Several teams are eagerly awaiting the response, according to league sources, and have been planning and plotting for months in anticipation of the three-time All-Star asking to be traded this offseason. Mitchell did not commit when asked about the possibility following the elimination.
And Brian Windhorst reported that Utah would like to make changes around Mitchell to make him happy and keep the Jazz on their Western Conference Semifinals contender existence plan (Going through ESPN):
Brian Windhorst: ‘My feeling is that Jazz are going to do some level of redesign that doesn’t include Donovan Mitchell with the aim of making Donovan more comfortable. And it could work. It could work but it will be difficult.
To finish, Marc Berman reported that the Miami Heat could be a landing spot for Mitchell if he asks for a trade (through the New York Post):
Miami has been mentioned by league sources as a smart landing spot for Donovan Mitchell with Wade’s close ties to his beloved Heat.
With so much reporting on the matter, it’s clear there’s something going on behind the scenes between Mitchell and the Jazz.
Whether that could lead to his or Gobert’s departure will be decided over the next few months, likely in a very public way.
For the latest on Donovan Mitchell’s business front, Click here.