The Utah Jazz surprised many NBA observers in 2017-18 by not only making the playoffs, but also in defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, too. That OKC team featured household names in All-Stars Paul George and Russell Westbrook and was expected before 2017-18 began to have a chance at a deep playoff run.
George can opt out of his contract this summer and become a free agent, and if he does, several teams will be in pursuit of his services. Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell -- who keyed Utah's ousting of OKC -- says he plans to try and sell George on signing with his squad if he does enter free agency.
In a podcast with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Mitchell says he "definitely" plans to talk with George come the open of free agency on July 1. Here's more from The Salt Lake Tribune's Aaron Falk on Mitchell's comments:
“I was the lead recruiter at Louisville. I think I signed four or five guys before I left,” Mitchell said on the Woj Pod. “I think I can recruit some guys. Coach (Rick Pitino) and coach Kenny Johnson taught me some things.”
The Jazz front office could potentially clear enough cap space to make a major free agent acquisition this summer. The big name mentioned on the podcast: All-Star forward Paul George, with whom Mitchell has developed a friendship over the past year.
“He’s due. I think it’s July 1,” Mitchell said. “I’m definitely going to have that conversation.”
“Why not play with us?” Mitchell said. “You look at how we move the ball. We play with guys who don’t care who scores the most, who rebounds the most. … We play with guys who genuinely want to win.”
Mitchell added, “You can only imagine what we’d be able to do if we had that one big piece. It would be great. If not, like I said, we trust our abilities to do well. But it would be great to have that one piece like you’re talking about.”
“I think if you’re a free agent that wants to actually win ballgames and actually get to the Finals and not just doing it for show, then we’re where you want to be.” - Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) on attracting stars to Utah— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 7, 2018
The Woj Pod: https://t.co/uFYHZH6HmCpic.twitter.com/Sgmk4IiPFV
Mitchell also said in the ESPN podcast that in the coaching of Quin Snyder, the defensive prowess of center Rudy Gobert and more, the Jazz have plenty to offer marquee free agents.
In his exit interview with the Thunder shortly after their Game 6 loss to the Jazz, George sounded open to staying with OKC this summer.
“I think the biggest thing is just trying to keep a relationship with Sam (Presti, general manager of the Thunder), continue to talk with Sam. Continue to talk with Billy, with Russ, and figure out the direction we want to go as a group, more so than anything," George said.
“That's always been, I feel with players, they want that option,” George said then about his free agency. “But then you go into an organization where they kind of check the boxes on all the things that you want out of an organization, then immediately they become a candidate to where you want to play long-term.”
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