MINNEAPOLIS (ABC4 Sports) – When Rudy Gobert was first approached by his agent about a possible trade to the Minnesota Timberwolves last week, he said he needed a couple days to think about it.
“After one day, I came back to him and told him that it was probably the best and most exciting situation in terms of basketball for me,” Gobert said.
At his introductory press conference in Minnesota on Wednesday, Gobert said he is excited to pair his talents with fellow NBA All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and rising star Anthony Edwards.
“Obviously me and KAT have been going at it for a many years,” said the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. “We’re very unique and different players. I think it’s probably the best and most exciting challenge for me.”
So why did the Jazz trade the greatest center in franchise history in the prime of his career? Gobert thinks the Jazz organization felt the window to win an NBA title had closed.
“The window for winning is not always big,” said Gobert, who led the NBA last season in rebounding and field goal percentage. “Unfortunately in Utah, that’s kind of what happened. I felt the organization felt like that we passed that window that we had the last few years. I think they’re still obviously going to be a very competitive team, but they just felt like all the assets they could get for me, that it was better for them to go that way. I think it could potentially be a win-win situation.”
The Jazz did get Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Walker Kessler, Leandro Bolmaro and four first round picks in return for Gobert. But the three-time NBA All-star has no hard feelings at all towards Utah. In fact, Gobert is grateful for all that the team and the fans have done for him over the years.”
“Obviously Utah is the only team I’ve played for for nine years,” Gobert said. “I’ve had some amazing memories. I’m really grateful for all the time I’ve spent there and all the great relationships that I’ve built there. It’s my family and that is never going to change. But having the opportunity and just the challenge of coming to a team try to take that team to the next level.”
The Jazz never did get to that next level with Gobert, failing to get past the second round of the NBA Playoffs during his tenure in Utah. So even though the Jazz are the only NBA he has played for, Gobert understands it was simply time to move on.
“I’m the type of guy that early on was thinking that it would be cool to spend my whole career in the same place,” he said. “But I also always wondered how cool it would be to get to a new place. I spent nine amazing years in Utah, and even though we didn’t win a championship, I think all those years and all that grind made me a better player and a better person.”