SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It has been the most tumultuous off-season in Utah Jazz history.
From Quin Snyder resigning, to trading Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz will have a completely different look this coming season.
So why did Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik blow the team up? Well, they both put it pretty bluntly when meeting with the media Monday morning.
“What I saw during the season was a group of players that really didn’t believe in each other,” said Ainge, who came to the Jazz last December. “The whole group, I think they liked each other, even more than what was reported. But I’m not sure there was a belief. When adversity hit, the resolve, you can see in a team that has true belief, having each other’s back or a belief in one another, I just don’t believe that collectively they did.”
Despite winning the most regular season games in the NBA over the last five years, the Jazz failed to make it out of the second round of the playoffs with this group.
“Previous results kind of told us who we were,” said Zanik, the Jazz general manager. “It wasn’t just a one year thing. This was a good three year period where we won a lot of games and had a lot of success. But we were tapped out from a potential standpoint.”
So the Jazz hit the reset button, and they got quite a haul for their two all-stars — nine young players and seven first round picks. The Jazz now have 13 first round picks over the next seven years, which gives them flexibility to make even more moves.
“What those picks represent is not necessarily, oh you’re going to keep them and just select them,” Zanik said. “When it came apparent that there was a ceiling and an expiration date to that group, this is what you do. Now we can build a team in multiple ways.”
With training camp set to start in a matter of weeks, the Jazz may not be done. Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson could all be dealt. So while Jazz fans will have to be patient again, there is a plan.
“The biggest thing for us is opening up a window to compete for a title,” Zanik said. “To do that, we wanted to give the organization every opportunity to build the greatest base of flexibility, young players and assets going forward to make to make really good decisions so that we could reach the ceiling that we want to get to. And that’s win a title here.”