UTAH JAZZ

Analyzing Mitchell And Gobert Coronavirus Frustrations

Mar 16, 2020, 4:54 PM | Updated: 5:16 pm
Utah Jazz - Donovan Mitchell - Rudy Gobert...
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) discuss a play on the bench during the Jazz versus spurs NBA game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)
(Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Amid the coronavirus hiatus that has sidelined most of the sports world, rumors a rift between Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have emerged as both Utah Jazz players were diagnosed with the virus on the team’s trip to Oklahoma City.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the hostility between the two grew out of Gobert’s lackadaisical approach to the boundaries suggested by health experts who had met with the team as fears of the virus were growing.

In the latest Jazz Notes podcast, Ben Anderson of KSL Sports and Sarah Todd of the Deseret News discussed the relationship between Gobert and Mitchell and why the reports of a fractured relationship may have a deeper history than Jazz fans believe.

Listen Below:

Mitchell appeared on Good Morning America Monday morning and while he didn’t address his relationship with Gobert directly, the Jazz guard didn’t make it sound like the two players have talked much since incident.

Mitchell noted seeing Gobert’s social media posts where he asked the public to take the warnings seriously in regards to respecting protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.

Todd and Anderson sought out to provide added context to the players’ relationship prior to the incident.

“I think a lot of people who just assume that well- Rudy and Donovan are the Jazz best players and their lockers are next to each other and we see them at the All-Star game so that means they’re friends.” Anderson said, “There’s just never been any evidence that they are close friends of any kind. But that doesn’t mean they’re enemies.”

Todd agreed that the relationship has probably been overblown both positively and negatively.

“I think that happens across all sports and all fanbases,” Todd said, “I am sure it would be great for a team to all be best friends and all be hanging out every off day. But that’s just not the case.”

The Season’s Future

With reports emerging that the NBA’s best care scenario for returning is mid to late June, does it make sense to return at all?

While skipping the end of the regular season and accelerating to the NBA postseason may make the most sense from a scheduling standpoint, it creates other issues.

“That has a domino effect on every other key basketball event. When do we do the draft? What about free-agency which is supposed to begin in the first week of July?” Todd asked.

That schedule would also create issues with international and Olympic play which is set to begin the last week of July through the first week of August. The Olympics and international play could also prevent the league from taking the drastic measure of permanently changing the league’s schedule from a late October start date played through June, to a Christmas Day start date and a postseason that finishes in August.

Both Anderson and Todd said that while there’s a realistic chance that the NBA season is lost, the league could try to salvage itself by instituting a mini postseason basketball tournament.

League commissioner Adam Silver has reportedly shown interest in adding in-season tournaments the way European soccer leagues have done to drum up interest in the regular season, so a late-season tournament in a broken NBA season may be a way to salvage some of the league’s financial losses.

“Maybe you use it as an opportunity test out wild ideas,” Anderson suggested, “Come back and have a 16 team tournament or a 30 team tournament and have single elimination for the first few rounds.”

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