Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Wednesday Windmill: The Utah Jazz should keep Enes Kanter and trade Rudy Gobert
There is a lot of discussion right now about where Goran Dragic will end up now that it's been made known that he doesn't intend to re-sign with the Phoenix Suns. It's almost a foregone conclusion that Dragic is gone, but as for Enes Kanter and his future with the Utah Jazz, it remains much more murky. Reports say that the Jazz are willing to trade Kanter but that their asking price is high: A first round pick and somebody who they see as a potential building block for the franchise.
The main reason why Enes Kanter's name is coming up in trade rumors is that the Utah Jazz appear to have a formidable front court with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert forming, making Enes Kanter the odd man out. In addition, Kanter himself has requested to be traded, which certainly ups the odds that he is the big man who gets shipped out of Salt Lake City.
The combination of Kanter wanting out and the emergence of 7'2 center Rudy Gobert certainly makes it appear as though trading Kanter is the smart thing for the Utah Jazz, but I am not of the opinion that trading Kanter is the right move. As a matter of fact, I'm of the opinion that the Utah Jazz would be better off trading the second-year Gobert and keeping Kanter.
I hold this opinion for three reasons: (I) I agree the Utah Jazz have a front court that is too crowded and that somebody has to go. (II) Enes Kanter is already coming into his own and becoming a quality big man. (III) Rudy Gobert has more "potential" which means the Jazz can get a lot more for him.
In regards to the front court being too crowded, this is obvious. Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Rudy Gobert all have the potential to be quality starting big men in the NBA. There is no need to keep three guys who can all do the same thing. The Jazz would be wise to move one of them and get another piece back to make their team more complete. Derrick Favors is the best of the bunch, so it makes no sense to move him. It comes down to keeping Kanter or Gobert.
The reason I keep Kanter over Gobert is that Kanter has made the leap from potentiality into actuality. He is averaging 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in just his fourth season in the league. If he levels out from here he's already a quality and serviceable big man. If he improves at all, he's a borderline all-star.
The same cannot be said for Rudy Gobert. Obviously he is two years younger, but all the same, there is no guaranteeing that Gobert makes the leap from potentiality into actuality. Gobert does have more potential, but all the same, it's possible that he never becomes a consistent double figures scoring big man in the NBA, whereas Kanter has been that for the last two seasons.
As for why I prefer to trade Gobert over Kanter, Gobert has more potential. Teams are in awe of his freakish athleticism and I can guarantee the Utah Jazz could get some really good pieces back for him. They could get some good pieces back for Kanter, too, but I think a team in desperate need of jump-starting their franchise might offer more to land Rudy Gobert.
Now, the counterargument to my position is that the Jazz should keep Gobert because he has more potential and I totally understand that perspective. NBA general managers are all about potential in how they draft, scout, etc. Guys like Gobert don't grow on trees and so when you get a guy like him on your team, you usually want to keep him at all costs.
What makes Utah's situation unique is that they already have two other proven big men who appear capable of holding down the fort in the front court for the coming decade. Gobert hasn't yet blossomed and perhaps he never will. That is why trading him is the less risky move and the smarter move. The Jazz can get more back for him and risk less in giving him away.
By trading Kanter and sticking with Gobert, the Jazz would be gambling by giving up an already quality center for a guy who they hope will be even better but is yet to prove himself. When it comes to keeping a guy who you know is good or keeping a guy who you hope will be even better, stick with the guy who you know is good every time. It's the safer and better move to make.
---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord