Utah Jazz brass sits down to address media following the acquisition of Sexton, Markkanen & Agbaji.

Zanik, Ainge tout “good vibe and excitement” surrounding Utah Jazz roster

Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik and CEO of Basketball Danny Ainge addressed the media Monday morning to recap the organizations’ recent offseason moves and preview plans for a bright future. 

After finishing the 2021-22 season with a 49-33 record and a defeat by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, the organization moved on from All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell in trades with the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively. With new head coach Will Hardy at the helm, Ainge said it was “unanimous that this was the direction we needed to go.”

The offseason was a time to achieve some concrete goals, Zanik said, including establishing flexibility, filling the roster with young players and creating a cache of assets going forward so that “we can reach the ceiling that we want to get to, and that’s win a title.” 

The Donovan Mitchell trade brought in three young players who fit the aforementioned bill: Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen and Ochai Agbaji, players Zanik touted as high character and hard workers.

“Collin is a proven player,” said Zanik, and though Markkanen isn’t in-market because he’s currently playing with the Finnish National team in the FIBA tournament (and dropped 43 points on Sunday!), “we’re really excited to have him come be part of our program.”

Agbaji—the 6’5” rookie out of Kansas—was drafted 14th overall by Cleveland before coming over in the Mitchell trade. “His character and hard work I think will translate really, really well [in the NBA],” Zanik said.

In addition to being complimentary of the young guys on the roster, the Utah Jazz GM talked about the energy in the building as the young players roll into the facility. 

“There’s this really good vibe and excitement in the gym,” he said. “It’s a really good work environment. It’s a really good place to come to work.”

There is work yet to be done when it comes to finessing the roster, Zanik and Ainge admit. There are 17 contracts on the books currently and will need to be trimmed to 15 before the season opens. 

Watch the press conference in its entirety here.