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ESPN insider sparks conspiracy discussion following Jazz trade of O'Neale

Windhorst O'Neale.jpg
Posted at 12:53 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 16:33:01-04

SALT LAKE CITY — In a discussion that seemingly belonged on "The X Files," a popular ESPN insider seemed to throw out a major Utah Jazz conspiracy theory... without saying what the conspiracy was all about.

Appearing on "First Take" early Friday morning, NBA reporter Brian Windhorst began his tale with a simple statement.

"I'm going to tell you something that happened yesterday that league executives are wondering what the heck it means."

Windhorst was talking about the Jazz trade that sent starting forward Royce O'Neale to the Nets for a future first round draft pick. The deal happened within minutes of the report that superstar Kevin Durant had requested a trade out of Brooklyn.

Of the O'Neale deal, Windhorst went on to call it a "very strange trade, very strange trade."

"Why would the Jazz do that?" Windhorst asked. "Why would the Jazz, who have two stars on their roster, take a player who's one of their starters and best defensive players, and trade him in a salary dumping move.

"Why would they do that?"

Before he could answer his own question, Windhorst then asked the show's panel why Quin Snyder stepped down last month as Jazz head coach after spending eight seasons with the team.

Windhorst was met with stone cold silence from his colleagues who were wondering where he was headed.

Again, without offering any answers, Windhorst then brought up Danny Ainge, who is now the CEO of Basketball Operations with the Jazz, but previously served as an executive with the Boston Celtics.

"When Danny Ainge, last time he hired a coach it was Brad Stevens. What happened that same year? What did he do when he hired this young coach that had never coached in the NBA before?" asked Windhorst before comparing the Stephens hire with Utah's hiring this week of 34-year-old Will Hardy to replace Snyder.

Windhorst then claimed it was "very rare" for a coach like Hardy to receive a five-year contract, and then asked why... again.

"What's going on in Utah?" Windhorst queried his colleagues who seemed to be hanging on his every word.

The longtime NBA reporting veteran said executives around the league are watching the Jazz very closely before asking, again, "What's going on in Utah?"

Windhorst seemed to imply that Boston's big move to trade Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce after hiring Stephens in July 2013 could parallel what Utah might do after bringing Hardy on board.

Putting two-and-two together, Windhorst was talking about the Jazz futures of All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. However, instead of mentioning their names, Windhorst went back to the trade that started his deep, strange dive in the first place.

"That trade, that Royce Young (he meant O'Neale) yesterday, was a very strange trade."

And that was it.

Stay tuned.