Storyline: Utah Jazz Turmoil?

45 rumors in this storyline

It wasn’t just who scored the game-winning free throws, it was how he got there that was also fitting. With the clock winding down and the game tied, on a second-chance opportunity, Mitchell drove into the lane, Jrue Holiday hounding him the entire way, and as soon as Derrick Favors’ attention turned toward Mitchell rather than Gobert, Spida dished off to the Stifle Tower and the rest was history. “Hopefully that kind of stops y’all from talking about it to be honest,” Mitchell said of the play and his and Gobert’s recent history. “At the end of the day, we’re basketball players and we go out there and make the right plays and he did a hell of a job today.”

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“When everything happened, [Mitchell] was frustrated,” Gobert said. “I was frustrated. I really wanted to make sure that he was fine. It wasn’t really about going into a conflict or arguing. [After time passed], I was able to call him and tell him what was on my mind, and he did the same. I think that’s what men should do. Don’t put the business out there in the media. People were seeing this as something that could destroy the group. I see it as something that could make the group even stronger. If you’re able to come back from that, we won’t be worried about a team beating us or a bad defensive quarter. It gives perspective.”

Gobert has fought the “defensive specialist” label ever since, never more so than this season, when his scoring average dipped for the second time in his seven-year career. The first time was when Mitchell came on board. “Rudy wasn’t doing what they wanted him to do at a certain point this season,” a rival scout says. “He became enamored with his offense. He’s a hard dude to play with. He can only do so much on offense. He’s not a particularly skilled player.”

A former Jazz teammate concedes Gobert can wear on people but dismisses the idea that he’s a malcontent. “Some people get frustrated with Rudy, but he’s just French,” he jokes. “He’s a good guy. But he’s focused on being as great as he can be, and he wants to show he can do more than just defense. … All of us get frustrated when we’re missed. [But] there are much worse … NBA personalities than Rudy. I hate to even comment because I think it’s only going to get bad if it’s overspeculated in the media. If it’s not, they will figure it out and be professional.”

In that story, Gobert said he can be “annoying” when it comes to demanding the ball and that he didn’t blame Mitchell for how he responded after both tested positive for the virus. He admitted there had been issues between the two players in the past — and he wasn’t blameless. “I was very impressed at how open Rudy was; how he owned certain points,” Lindsey said. “There was a real vulnerability and some self-reflection. I’ve just seen some real maturity. You know there are some things that we all have to look at ourselves when we get critiqued and I’m not sure I’m good at that at 51 years old. But I was quite impressed that Rudy at 28 could reflect and share how he’s felt about a number of things.”

There had long been friction between the two, the kind typical with NBA duos, particularly if those star players are relatively early in their careers — and especially in a roller-coaster season such as this one for the Jazz, who have basically played .500 ball aside from a 19-2 run in December and January. One high-ranking Jazz source categorized the pre-pandemic issues between the 28-year-old Gobert and Mitchell, 23, as “a 2 out of 10 on the NBA drama scale.”

“You know, I tried to put myself in his shoes,” Gobert told ESPN. “There was a lot of fear, and I think more than anything, he reacted out of fear. That’s why I don’t really blame him. We all have different character; we all react differently. When it’s something like that, when he tested [positive] for a virus that we don’t know a lot about, it’s scary. It was scary for me, and I’m sure it was scary for him. “The most important thing is what you do from there.”

The Jazz wanted to start virtual team meetings and workouts, but Gobert told teammates in early April that he wouldn’t feel right participating until he had a discussion with Mitchell. A month into the NBA hiatus, Gobert and Mitchell talked. “We told each other what we had to say to each other,” Gobert said. “We are both on the same page. We both want to win. We both think that we have a great opportunity, and we know that we need each other. We talked about a lot of things, but the main thing was that we are on the same page and the fact that our team needs us. We can win together. That’s the most important thing.”

As a smiling Mitchell sneaked up from behind and made some silly sounds, Gobert looked over his left shoulder and delivered a one-liner into the microphone: “Hey, pass the ball, god damn it!” Mitchell, who had 28 points on 21 shots and two assists, laughed and turned toward the tunnel to the Jazz locker room, altering his path to give high-fives to a couple of kids in the courtside seats who were wearing his No. 45 jersey. It was a moment that made many within the Jazz organization uncomfortable. They knew Gobert’s quip contained a lot of truth about his feelings on Mitchell’s passing.

Gobert rarely hesitates to let teammates know if they miss him when he is open around the rim. He’ll occasionally point up during play in animated fashion, sometimes as he is running back on defense, to note that a lob should have been thrown. He’ll often air his gripes verbally, during games and again in film sessions. Mitchell hears it the most, simply because as the Jazz’s go-to guy, he has the ball in his hands the most. That, according to several Jazz sources, has been the primary irritant in an overall successful partnership.
2 months ago via ESPN

Things getting better between Mitchell and Gobert?

Big question after the layoff: Can Gobert and Mitchell mend fences? Jazz sources are adamant that they can and will, even if they won’t be singing kumbaya by the campfire, noting that they’ve had numerous, positive conversations with each other and in various virtual group settings over the last several weeks. But the question still lingers, particularly since Mitchell has declined to address his issues with Gobert publicly.


On Friday, veteran guard Mike Conley became the latest to stress the point that NBA players are allowed to argue and not get along with one another and still be successful on the court. “Some of the best players in the world, in our game ever, have disagreed on things or had arguments or fought in practices, whatever it may be, and have went on to win championships and be successful and be brothers for life,” Conley said on a video conference with reporters.

Mitchell-Gobert relationship not salvageable?

Considering all the efforts the Jazz had taken to educate their players on the matter and to ensure their safety, it’s not hard to see why there would be frustration with anyone who was still downplaying the disease. Now, though, they must find a way to move forward. The Jazz have already begun working on the Mitchell-Gobert relationship, but sources say Mitchell remains reluctant to fix what might have been broken. “It doesn’t appear salvageable,” one source with knowledge of the situation said.

In the two travel days leading into Utah’s game at Oklahoma City, Gobert and Mitchell shared space on a regular basis, sitting near each other on buses and the team plane, according to sources. Still, there’s no way to know if Gobert gave it to Mitchell or if it was the other way around or some other factor. That’s something the team tried to make clear to Mitchell, according to sources. Mitchell also declined an interview request for this story.

There is hope that the relationship will improve over time, and the fact that there could potentially be a lot of time to sort things out could work in Utah’s favor. “I’m confident our team is going to be totally fine,” Ingles said. “I heard Donovan’s response (on GMA), or whatever it was, to that question, and a part of that is on Donovan and Rudy to sort out if he’s frustrated with him or whatever. But I have no doubt when we go back to training, or when our season starts again, our team is going to be what we have been and what we are. … I’m confident our team will be completely fine. The chemistry will be fine.”

On Mitchell telling Good Morning America that he hadn’t talked to Gobert and the perception that their relationship needs mending because of this… I’m confident our team is going to be totally fine. I heard Donovan’s response, or whatever it was, to that question, and a part of that is on Donovan and Rudy to sort out if he’s frustrated with him or whatever. But I have no doubt when we go back to training, or when our season starts again, our team is going to be what we have been and what we are.

The reports of recent days have been multiple, and confirmed through The Athletic sourcing: Mitchell has been frustrated with Gobert in relation to his positive test. Those reports first surfaced on Thursday, the day of Mitchell’s positive test, and the day after Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive, which prompted a league-wide shutdown. They continued through the weekend, as Mitchell’s Instagram post stoked the rumors, because some of the wording is seemingly directed at Gobert. They were confirmed on Monday morning in Mitchell’s interview with Good Morning America.

Privately, according to sources, Utah hopes the time off does the team well. Neither Mitchell nor Gobert are the type to hold a grudge. Both are affable. And, privately, the Jazz know that they have doused fires before. Teammates everywhere get tired of each other over the course of a long season, and Mitchell and Gobert are no different. When Mitchell showed poor body language towards Gobert in a December home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, he realized his mistake and apologized to his big man. After games, their lockers are next to each other and can often be seen talking to each other about what transpired on the floor. They are without question the leaders of this team. They are both accountable to their teammates and to the media.

Just two players—Gobert and Donovan Mitchell—tested positive for coronavirus. Gobert, who only reported symptoms when Utah arrived in Oklahoma City, sources told SI.com, and Mitchell are close, All-Stars who have been teammates since 2018. Oklahoma state health officials acted swiftly after learning of the positive test, the first in Oklahoma City. State officials ordered the testing of all members of the Jazz traveling party, sources say, in an effort to back trace the movements of anyone who tests positive to determine where the infection may have spread.

Gobert publicly apologized for his “careless” behavior in the days before his diagnosis, which included touching the digital recorders of reporters who had placed them in front of Gobert after an interview and reportedly making light of the issue inside the locker room. Mitchell is “extremely frustrated” with Gobert, league sources told SI.com. In an Instagram post, Mitchell said of coronavirus “hopefully people can continue to educate themselves and realize that they need to behave responsibly both for their own health and for the well being of those around them.”

Just two players—Gobert and Donovan Mitchell—tested positive for coronavirus. Gobert, who only reported symptoms when Utah arrived in Oklahoma City, sources told SI.com, and Mitchell are close, All-Stars who have been teammates since 2018. Oklahoma state health officials acted swiftly after learning of the positive test, the first in Oklahoma City. State officials ordered the testing of all members of the Jazz traveling party, sources say, in an effort to back trace the movements of anyone who tests positive to determine where the infection may have spread.

Gobert publicly apologized for his “careless” behavior in the days before his diagnosis, which included touching the digital recorders of reporters who had placed them in front of Gobert after an interview and reportedly making light of the issue inside the locker room. Mitchell is “extremely frustrated” with Gobert, league sources told SI.com. In an Instagram post, Mitchell said of coronavirus “hopefully people can continue to educate themselves and realize that they need to behave responsibly both for their own health and for the well being of those around them.”

ESPN sportscaster Scott Van Pelt and senior reporter Adrian Wojnarowski certainly think so, as they talked about the Jazz and the entire league’s conundrum on Thursday. Van Pelt noted that there seems to a discord between Gobert and the rest of his teammates, following his nonchalant approach to the virus before his diagnosis. Wojnarowski, who broke the story on Wednesday, echoed the same sentiment. “That is an astute observation. The Jazz are fortunate that they don’t have to get back together and start playing games again right now. There’s a lot of work to do to repair relationships not just between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, but others in the locker room. There’s a lot of frustration with Gobert. He certainly was apologetic today. They got great leadership in Utah. In that locker room, it’s going to be a test to get this team back on track,” Woj said.
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Storyline: Victor Oladipo Free Agency
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Justin Kubatko: Most points scored by a player over the final three games of a regular season: 154 – Damian Lillard, 2019-20 128 – Dominique Wilkins, 1985-86 128 – Michael Jordan, 1986-87 128 – Kobe Bryant, 2005-06 127 – David Thompson, 1977-78 127 – Russell Westbrook, 2014-15
For New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson, it’s time to turn the page to next season and focus on getting better — with his game and his body. “I’ll talk to my coaches and see what I need to do better from their point of view,” Williamson said Thursday morning. “Talk to my player development coaches as well, see what I need to do better from their point of view. Just work on every part of my game and work on getting my body where it needs to be.”
Given how fluid this draft is, the Warriors could draft the same player at No. 5 that they’d eye with the No. 2 pick. According to league sources, Israeli small forward Deni Avdija, Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton, Florida State shooting guard Devin Vassell and Auburn small forward Isaac Okoro are among the players Golden State would consider in that range.
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