HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto and Jazz beat writer Tony Jones discussed Danny Ainge’s impact on Utah’s trade talks, Joe Ingles’ future, the relationship between Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, and more on the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast.
For more interviews with players, coaches, and media members, be sure to like and subscribe to the HoopsHype podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. Listen to the podcast above or check out some snippets of the conversation in a transcribed version below.
1:42 What’s Danny Ainge’s role, and how will it affect the future of the Jazz?
Jones: He’s the guy at this point. He’s basically the head of basketball operations. He’s going to be a step above day-to-day with general manager Justin Zanik. He’s going to be where the buck stops in terms of all basketball decisions and approving trades.
Scotto: I don’t think you bring on Danny Ainge to keep things status quo. He’s a guy who’s made big blockbuster trades for the Celtics that put them in a position to win the championship, and I expect him to be involved in a trade before the deadline.
Jones: I think the Jazz are going to be really aggressive in terms of making calls and scanning the trade market to see if there’s anything available versus looking at their roster and seeing if there’s an upgrade. The Jazz are a really good team. At this point, I think they’re one of five really good teams that you’ve got to say have a chance to win a championship. Those five teams are the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz from the Western Conference, and then the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference. If you’re the Jazz and you’re looking at that group and that ultimate goal, you have a responsibility to go all-in if you can.
7:00 Joe Ingles’ trade market
Scotto: Joe Ingles’ name has come up since the draft in trade talks, according to rival executives I’ve spoken to. It’s unclear who’s initiating that, but his name has been brought up. You have to wonder if the trade talks have gotten to him because he’s having a down season compared to last year. When I look at the roster, I obviously don’t see them moving Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert. Tony, you mentioned margin guys. I don’t think they’re going to move the needle. To me, can you move either Bojan Bogdanovic or Ingles and maybe some draft pick compensation of some kind to really make an upgrade to go all in?
Jones: I haven’t really heard of anything substantial in terms of anybody specifically. Let’s put it this way, if the Jazz thought they could bring someone in, that’s substantial, and it cost them a rotation player, no matter who it would be, I think Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik would pull the trigger on that. If we’re speaking in general, I think the Jazz are at a point where they’re looking for one more perimeter guy to come in and be able to defend at a high level. I think that’s real from talking to people.
12:22 Is Utah ready to take the next step?
Scotto: You look at the schedule in January, and they’re going to play Golden State and Phoenix multiple times. I think that’s going to be a decent litmus test for them to figure out if they’ve got to make a move to bolster this team and go all in. I think they do (need to make a trade).
Jones: The thing that this team hasn’t had in any of its playoffs runs under Quin Snyder is they haven’t had health, and they haven’t had their point guard. I think that’s not talked about nearly enough. That context isn’t talked about nearly enough. They didn’t have Mike Conley last year in the second round against the Clippers. Before Conley came, they didn’t have Ricky Rubio in that second round. They didn’t have George Hill for one year. Last year, I thought it was a game-changer. With Hill or Rubio, they would’ve lost those series regardless. It might have cost them a game or two, but they would’ve lost those series regardless. Last year, them not having Conley was pretty seismic.
18:35 Relationship behind the scenes with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell?
Jones: I think they have a good professional relationship. Obviously, they’re never going to be best friends. That’s okay. You don’t have to be best friends with your co-worker. I think what’s important is that both of those guys know how important they are to each other. I don’t think you can name me a star duo that is as important to each other and the careers of each other than they are.
I think each of those guys has gotten past the events that we had two years ago. I think they know what they mean to each other in a professional sense. The biggest thing with both of them is they’re competitive, and they want to win a championship. They’ll do whatever it takes to win a championship. They’re all in this together, and they’re going to go from there.
24:25 Will Joe Ingles be with the Jazz after this season?
Jones: I haven’t heard anything definitively on the trade market with Joe. I think free agency is free agency, and we’re a long way away from them making a decision there. I think Joe’s gotten progressively better as the season has progressed. I don’t think he started the season great on either end of the floor. I think it’s obvious he plays better as a starter than he does off the bench, and a lot of that is because he plays his minutes with Rudy Gobert. Those two are a good pick-and-roll duo. Joe’s definitely older, and he’s lost some lateral quickness. I think the last three weeks or a month proves he’s still a really good player when you put him in the right situation.