Now that the question of what is going on in Utah was answered with the blockbuster trade last week of Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves, another one loomed on Wednesday. Specifically, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year was asked why he thinks the Jazz dealt him.
The answer was telling, as much about the 30-year-old four-time All-NBA selection as it was about the state of the franchise that netted a cadre of draft picks and players in return.
“It’s a good question,” Gobert told reporters in his first comments since being traded. “Sometimes the window for winning is not always big, and for us in Utah, that’s kind of what happened. I think the organization felt like that we had maybe passed that window that we had over the last few years.
“I think they’re still obviously going to be a very competitive team. It just felt like with all the assets they could get for me, that it was better for them to go that way.”
In exchange for sending Gobert to Minnesota, Utah got four future first-round picks, plus Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Leandro Bolmaro, Jarred Vanderbilt and 2022 first-round pick Walker Kessler.
That wasn’t the only change for the Jazz this offseason. Head coach Quin Snyder resigned following the team’s first-round playoff exit to Dallas, and starting forward Royce O’Neale was traded to the Nets for a 2023 first-round pick.
With nearly a decade in the league—all of it with the Jazz after being selected 27th overall out of France by Denver in 2013—the 7-footer understands the position his old team was in after getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs three of the last four years. Gobert also knows his new team, having read their fans’ Twitter comments over the last nine years.
“I think it could potentially be a win-win situation,” Gobert said. “They also put me in a great situation to win. For me, I’m very grateful for that. They put me on a team that I can keep flourishing and hopefully win a championship. For them, I really hope they’re going to be able to get better and better and hopefully get back to that stage that we were when the Jazz were first in the Western Conference and truly believed they had a chance a title.”
Having a shot at winning it all is also the expectation in Minnesota, where Gobert joins Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell.
Gobert said when he heard the Timberwolves were interested, he thought about it for only a day. He said he felt it was the best and most exciting basketball situation for him.
“The goal is to win a championship,” Gobert said. “I came here for that. I didn’t come here just to be a good team. I came here to try to take this team to the finals and accomplish that.”