Danny Ainge Finally Explained Why He Had No Choice But To Tear Down The Jazz Roster

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Few teams smashed the rebuild button harder than the Utah Jazz this offseason. I wouldn't exactly say it was a surprise considering the entire basketball world knew they were probably headed down this path the second they brought in Danny Ainge to run their front office. Then their longtime coach Quin Snyder decided to call it quits and Ainge brought in a young head coach who he immediately gave a long term deal. He'd done that once before with a guy named Brad Stevens (maybe you've heard of him) as the Celtics were beginning their post Big 3 rebuild, so the writing was on the wall. It wasn't a question of "if" the Jazz were going to rebuild, but more "when" and "with who". 

For the first time since they decided to gut their team, the Jazz front office spoke to the media about it and I found the quotes to be pretty interesting


This tells me that pretty much all the drama/rumors we heard about the Donovan Mitchell/Rudy Gobert relationship are true. The one thing we know about the NBA, is the best teams operate as a collective unit. They believe in each other and the system. If you have fractures in that belief, you tend to underachieve. There have been plenty of teams that were loaded with talent that ultimately choked/came up short because there wasn't complete buy in. On the other end, teams that maybe weren't as talented seemed to find success because there was that collective belief/buy in. I think it's such an underrated part of building a contender, you have to all be on the same page and want to see each other succeed as opposed to not believing in the plan and playing more for yourself. Those teams almost never win.

If your best players/franchise guys can't trust one another and don't believe they are the right piece, it's not going to work. Changing the pieces around them doesn't fix your foundational problem, which is why you saw the Jazz smash that rebuild button and take this roster back down to the studs in order to rebuild it. 

Every season it was the same old story with the Jazz. Nobody really gave a shit how good they were during the regular season, everything came down to the playoffs. Once you're good, that becomes the evaluation metric. Especially if you've had multiple seasons of postseason underachievement despite your talent level/record. It's a similar situation we see current teams like PHI/BKN/LAC etc be in this year. These are groups that generally win a lot during the regular season yet once you get to the playoffs, they can't seem to get over the hump and win multiple rounds. 

Once Ainge saw that the same issues that plagued the Jazz previously in the postseason still existed in the 2022 playoffs, that was clearly enough reassurance for him that it was time to blow it up. It's hard to argue that he didn't accomplish his goal of retaining assets for a rebuild considering the Jazz have about 50,000 picks in the next 7 years. The tank is in full swing for a generational talent in Victor Wembanyama who is a surefire lock to be the #1 pick next summer. There are still valuable contracts on the roster that Ainge can move for even more picks. When you're going the rebuild route, it's all about versatility. Either you can package some picks to speed up your rebuild or if you choose to keep them you increase your chances of finding players that hit. It's why OKC is currently going through that same process. Having flexibility is the most important aspect of a rebuild for the teams who do it right. 

Seeing as Ainge has gone through this process a few times and proven that he knows how to build a contender/championship level team, I would feel confident as a Jazz fan as you enter what will most likely be a pretty dark time in terms of wins. He rebuilt the Celts twice over his 20 years there, and he's a pretty good evaluator of talent whether it's draft prospects or current NBA players. As someone who lived through it, my only advice would be to simply trust him. He knows what he's doing.