Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert arrives for Game 3 of the team’s first round NBA Basketball Playoff Series against the Dallas Mavericks on April 21, 2022 in Salt Lake City. Gobert was traded by the Jazz to the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)
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SALT LAKE CITY — Rudy Gobert stood in front of a crowd covered in Timberwolves logos as he lifted a No. 27 Minnesota jersey. Yes, it will take more than five days to get used to.
Minnesota held its induction press conference for Gobert on Tuesday, officially kicking off the former jazz hub’s new NBA life.
For the Timberwolves, the trade that sent four players and several draft picks back to the Jazz was an easy decision. The Wolves are a small market team; Opportunities to hire an All-Star in the prime of his career with several years left on his contract don’t come often. Sure, the price was high — and you could argue they overpaid — but for them, the risk was worth it.
After Minnesota leadership praised Gobert and his game – calling him a game-changer and future Hall of Famer – the question was posed to Gobert: Why would Utah, another small-market franchise, trade you away?
“That’s a good question. I mean obviously losing (former jazz coach Quin Snyder),” Gobert began. “Quin was there for eight years; he was a big part of what we did. The window to win isn’t always big. And that’s how it happened for us in Utah. I think the organization felt like maybe we’ve crossed the window of opportunity that we’ve had over the last few years. I think they’re obviously still going to be a very competitive team, but they just felt that with all the advantages they could get with me, it would be better for them to go that route.”
Gobert said it was a win for both sides in the end though. The Timberwolves are now hoping to be in contention for a title and Gobert will certainly help them with that. Jazz, meanwhile, gained more options for its future.
“I think it could potentially be a win-win,” Gobert said. “They also put me in a great position to win and I’m really grateful for that. They put me in a team where I can continue to thrive and hopefully win a championship. And then really for them.” hope they keep getting better and hopefully reach the stage we were a few years ago. Even if we didn’t make it through the second round, we were first in the West – that’s not true. Does not happen often.”
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year is aware that all those big moves come with risks, but he’s grateful he’s on a team that has a chance to compete at a high level.
“It’s never easy. It’s always speculative. You never know what’s right or wrong, and sometimes you have to make decisions, and they did. … I’m grateful they put me in a position to win,” he said.
Gobert admitted he wanted to spend his entire career with the same team; he embraced Utah—regularly giving back to the community through his charitable foundation as well as his time. He built a home in the Salt Lake Valley and was very proud of what the Jazz had built as a team. But, he admitted Tuesday, there’s excitement in something new.
“I’m the guy who early on thought it would be cool to spend my whole career in the same place,” he said. “But I also always wonder how cool it would be to come to a new place and system and environment. So it’s kind of like whatever happens, it’s positive.
“I spent nine amazing years in Utah, we built something very unique that will never go away,” he continued. “Even though we didn’t win a championship, I think those years were great years in terms of winning. We’ve won the most games in the NBA in the last four years – even if there’s no ring at the end, it’s still a pretty cool achievement. All those years and all the grind have made me a better player and a better person and now I’m in a position where I can hopefully take this team to where we want to be. And that’s very, very exciting.”