Trade rumor rankings: Donovan Mitchell, D’Angelo Russell and more
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 Trade page over the past week.
This week, the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers, both teams already no longer in contention for the 2021-22 NBA championship, are prominently featured.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
5D’Angelo Russell (Minnesota)
It was a brutal postseason showing for D’Angelo Russell, who shrank when his team needed him most, averaging just 12.0 points on paltry 33.3/38.7/75.0 percent shooting splits, even getting benched late in Game 6 with the Minnesota Timberwolves season on the line.
Russell wasn’t happy about the benching either, though he said he didn’t want to make a big deal of it:
According to Marc Stein, the Timberwolves are expected to try and find a new home for Russell this offseason, even despite his great relationship with pick-and-roll partner Karl-Anthony Towns (via Substack):The future of another prominent lefty lead guard in the West is much more uncertain after Minnesota’s first-round exit. D’Angelo Russell wound up on the bench at crunch time in the Timberwolves’ season-ending Game 6 defeat at home to Memphis and averaged just 12.0 points per game on 33.3 percent shooting in his second career playoff series. Numerous rival teams expect the Wolves to try to trade Russell this offseason irrespective 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, one that will pay him $31.4 million next season, making him the 33rd-highest-paid player in the NBA next year (as of now). With that much money owed, it may prove difficult for Minnesota to find a new home for the southpaw floor general, but his regular-season production was solid enough that it may not be an impossible task, either.
For the latest on the D’Angelo Russell trade front, click here.
4Russell Westbrook (LA Lakers
One of the likeliest superstar names that will get moved this summer is that of Russell Westbrook, former league MVP and current scapegoat of 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 requesting him to find a new home for next season:
3Jordan Clarkson (Utah)
Changes could be brewing for the Utah Jazz after yet another disappointing early postseason exit. Whether that means a complete firesale or just some reshuffling remains to be seen, but what is without doubt is that the roster will look different come next season.
One of the players who could be affected is former Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson, who was asked about his future in Utah at end-of-season media availability. Clarkson responded to the questions by saying he truly does not know what is in store for him this offseason:
larkson performed admirably in the playoffs, averaging 17.5 points and 3.2 rebounds over six games while shooting 54.8 percent from the floor. That, coupled with his attractive salary – he is owed $13.3 million next season and has a player option for the year after, worth just $14.3 million – could make Clarkson a hot commodity on the trade market if his name does get put on the block.
For the latest on the Jordan Clarkson trade front, click here.
2Rudy Gobert (Utah)
Regardless, there’s little doubt that Gobert or Mitchell could be on the move this offseason with how poorly Utah’s season just ended after years of playoff futility.
If Gobert is put on the block, one team that could be interested in the French defensive specialist are the Golden State Warriors, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon:Tim McMahon: ‘I know Rudy Gobert and Draymond Green have a great relationship… Any Golden State possibilities?’ Brian Windhorst: ‘I have heard that rumor out there… I guess it would be based around Andrew Wiggins… I don’t know. If the Warriors win the title I don’t know if they’re looking for a major shake-up. But the Warriors don’t have that big and they have young players and they have the Wiggins contract. … I don’t think they should be considered a leader but I think that’s on the board. I’ve definitely heard that.’
Nevertheless, we are in a holding pattern at the moment with regards to Gobert’s future, as Tony Jones reported this week that the Jazz are waiting for their exit interview with Gobert before deciding on how to proceed this offseason:
1Donovan Mitchell (Utah)
Which brings us to Mitchell.
There’s a lot to get to regarding Mitchell, so let’s get right into it.
According to Jones, the Jazz want to build around Mitchell, indicating that they don’t want to initiate a full rebuild (via The Athletic):That isn’t the plan, according to several sources – at least initially. The Jazz, according to sources, are committed to building around Donovan Mitchell, which means taking a step back isn’t an option. Utah would like to keep climbing the mountain toward contention, and the Jazz feel like they still aren’t that far off, despite the disappointment of this season.
Meanwhile, MacMahon reported that rival teams are gearing up in anticipation of Mitchell asking out of Utah (via ESPN):Multiple teams are anxiously awaiting the answer, league sources say, and have been planning and plotting for months in anticipation of the three-time All-Star asking to be traded as soon as this offseason. Mitchell was noncommittal when asked about the possibility in the wake of elimination.
And Brian Windhorst reported that Utah would like to make changes around Mitchell to make him happy and keep the Jazz on their plane of existence of Western Conference semifinal contenders (via ESPN):Brian Windhorst: ‘My feel is that Jazz are going to do some level of overhaul that does not include Donovan Mitchell in an attempt to to make Donovan more comfortable. And that could work. It could work but it’s going to be difficult.’
Finally, Marc Berman reported that the Miami Heat could be a landing spot for Mitchell if he does request a trade (via the New York Post):Miami has been mentioned by league sources as a smart landing spot for Donovan Mitchell with Wade’s strong connections to his beloved Heat.
With this much reporting on the matter, it’s clear there’s something going on behind the scenes between Mitchell and the Jazz.
Whether that might lead to either his or Gobert’s departure will be sorted out over the coming months, likely in a very public fashion.