LESS than a year into his tenure as the Utah Jazz CEO of basketball operations, Danny Ainge has seen the writing on the wall and has pulled the trigger for a full rebuild.

Known for his penchant to trade fan favorites during his time as an executive in the Boston Celtics and fleecing other teams in deals, earning him the moniker "Trader Danny," Ainge is not afraid to make bold moves if it means long-term success. Ainge gutted the Boston Celtics back in 2007 to pair Kevin Garnett and Rey Allen with Paul Pierce. This resulted in a championship in 2008. He parlayed his veterans when their window closed in 2013, trading Garnett and Pierce for a bevy of players and draft picks which turned into Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. The duo went to their first Finals appearance last June.

Ainge exacted his pound of flesh from the Minnesota Timberwolves when he was able to get five players and four unprotected first round draft picks (2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029) plus a pick swap (2026) for center Rudy Gobert last July. The haul was borderline preposterous even if Gobert is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and All-Star. The Jazz secured three starting-caliber players (Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt), Leandro Bolmaro, and 2022 first-rounder Walker Kessler. This is an absurd return for a 30-year-old that may have already reached his peak.

This trade broke the NBA market for a frustrated Kevin Durant since the Brooklyn Nets wanted a haul more than what the Jazz got for Gobert. This is what probably pushed Durant to stay with Brooklyn since there were no takers.

Ainge then traded the 34-year-old Beverly to the desperate Los Angeles Lakers, acquiring two young wings with some potential, namely Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson.

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Pundits initially thought that the Jazz were going to start building around All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, but Ainge wasn't done.

Trader Danny recently sent Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers for three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027 and 2029), the rights to two picks swaps (2026 and 2028) plus Lauri Markannen, Collin Sexton and Ochair Agbaji.

Expect the Jazz to further offload their veterans like Jordan Clarkson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside for more draft picks. These players have skillsets that playoff teams covet.

Ainge is probably right to break-up this squad since it was a perennial playoff team but never good enough to contend for championships. The Gobert/Mitchell tandem has gone to the playoffs five times but never got past the second round. Additionally, the relationship between the two has been frayed for two years and considered unsalvageable.

If you recall, Mitchell got angry at Gobert for being careless as the latter tested positive for Covid, the first NBA player to have a confirmed infection. Gobert joked about the virus and rubbed his hands all over mics and devices in a press conference a few days before testing positive.

Letting go of their two All-Stars marks the beginning of a new era in Jazz basketball. Expect several losing seasons and growing plains that will not be easy for the rabid Jazz fanbase. At the end of this process, Ainge might just very well bring back the Jazz to its glory days. The days when you would hear the announcers shout: "Stockton to Malone."

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