As the Jazz released their press release to introduce Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, and Ochai Agbaji to Utah, key front-office figures took the time to explain why they decided to start a rebuild and move Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert to Cleveland and Minnesota, respectively.
Utah required the three players after trading Mitchell to Cleveland for restricted free agent Sexton, Markkanen, and Agbaji eight days ago. Sexton reportedly agreed to a sign-and-trade deal to help the Cavs finish the trade negotiations; Sexton is locked in with Utah on a four-year deal worth $72 million.
“It was clear that in order to optimize our opportunity to create a team that could truly contend and establish sustained success, we needed to transition our roster,” Jazz CEO Danny Ainge said in a statement. “In trading Rudy (Gobert) and now Donovan, it was a rare opportunity to maximize our ability to get quality talent and picks to best position us moving forward. We have a plan in place to help us assemble the championship team our fans deserve. It will take time to craft our roster. We all understand the work ahead and are committed to our vision.”
GM Justin Zanik believes Sexton, Markkanen, and Agbaji are three “exciting young players.” The endorsement from Zanik could be a sign of good fortune for the three young stars that’ll play a pivotal role in Utah’s rebuilding effort.
Sexton averaged 16.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game on 45.0 percent shooting from the field in the 11 games he played last season before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair the torn meniscus he suffered in November. Markkanen averaged 14.8 points. 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game while shooting 44.5 percent from the field goal.
“We believe that they fit the Jazz culture and hard-nosed, competitive brand of basketball we’ve built here in Utah,” Zanik said. “They give us versatility and athleticism on both ends of the floor as we grow toward the future. We look forward to our fans getting to know them.”
The Utah Jazz opens the 2022-23 season against the Denver Nuggets on Oct. 19.