Utah Jazz forward Nickeil Alexander-Walker says he'll miss playing alongside newly-traded All-Star Rudy Gobert ... telling TMZ Sports he'll always appreciate the veteran big man for being a great teammate.
We spoke with the 23-year-old out at LAX this week ... and the former Virginia Tech Hokie told us Gobert's departure will be felt both on the court and in the locker room.
"I did message him when [the trade] happened," Nickeil said. "He was a good guy. When I first got there, he welcomed me."
"What he does on the court is special," Nickeil added. "His ability to affect damn near every shot, [a] dynamic roller. So, you're always going to miss playing with someone like that."
Alexander-Walker has only played 4 seasons in the Association, but he did say that he got to interact with Gobert over several dinners ... though, he remains tight-lipped about how those encounters went.
"I been to some good dinners, got to keep those disclosed," Nickeil said. "But, the dinners were fun and cool and I wish him the best."
The Jazz made shockwaves this NBA offseason when they traded Rudy -- who had been the anchor of their defense since being drafted in 2013 -- to the Minnesota Timberwolves ... pairing him with the combo of Karl-Anthony Towns and rising star Anthony Edwards.
As for who won the mega-trade between the Jazz and Wolves ... Nickeil told us he tries to stay away from that debate, saying, "It's all perspective and what [the] team needs."