Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley believes former Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge could find a suitor for his Utah Jazz's best player, Lauri Markkanen, and extract a great number of draft picks -- a la the Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert trades -- out of said suitor.
That suitor would be the New Orleans Pelicans, and one of Ainge's lottery picks ahead of the first post-Big Three season in 2013, Kelly Olynyk, would be part of the Pels' haul. In return, the Jazz would get Jonas Valančiūnas, Dyson Daniels, Jordan Hawkins, a 2024 first-round pick (via LAL), a 2027 first-round pick (via MIL), and a 2028 first-round pick.
Buckley believes New Orleans could talk themselves into a Markkanen-Zion Williamson-Brandon Ingram nucleus, while also believing the Jazz could look to reel in another absurd package of draft picks in yet another blockbuster deal under Ainge's watch.
"The Pelicans could absolutely talk themselves into the idea of Markkanen, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson forming a championship-level trio, particularly with how strong the supporting cast would be around them," Buckley prefaced before saying, "Having Olynyk at center would be a sneaky-strong get, too, since he's a good enough shooter to space the floor and a clever enough passer to take full advantage of that spacing.
"If the Jazz moved Markkanen, this feels in the ballpark of what they'd be seeking value-wise. All three firsts are unprotected, while Daniels (No. 8 in 2022) and Hawkins (No. 14 in 2023) are recent top-10 picks. Valančiūnas would mainly be a money-matcher, but he's a solid center who could soak up minutes in Salt Lake City or potentially command some draft considerations on the trade market."
Danny Ainge's Jazz could be key player in Boston Celtics' deadline trade plans
In many ways, the Jazz feels like a Western Conference arm of the Boston Celtics franchise. There hasn't been a trade between the two franchises in nearly two decades; with the last deal being the five-team trade that sent away Antoine Walker, but Ainge is in Utah's C-suite, and former Ime Udoka assistant in Boston, Will Hardy, is the Jazz's head coach.
That 19-year trade drought between Boston and Utah could soon end, with nine Jazz players fitting into the Grant Williams TPE. Of course, not everyone on Utah's roster making under $6.2 million is a fit, but Kris Dunn, Walker Kessler, Ochai Agbaji, and Simone Fontecchio certainly are.