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Quin Snyder - Donovan Mitchell - Utah Jazz
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Quin Snyder: Mitchell, Gobert ‘Excited’ For NBA Return

For the second time in three preseason games, the Utah Jazz flexed their NBA muscles against an Australian NBL team, this team it was the Adelaide 36ers in a 129-99 win Friday night at Vivint SmartHome Arena. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder joined ESPN’s First Take Wednesday morning. Snyder discussed the controversy between All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, his role combatting racism, and what he expects the NBA’s return will look like when the league resumes on July 31 in Orlando.

Snyder and his Jazz team will reconvene in Utah by the end of June, before traveling to Orlando in early July.

Snyder on Mitchell and Gobert Relationship

For the first time, Snyder spoke publically on the relationship between Gobert and Mitchell. The Jazz stars both tested positive for COVID-19, leading to reports that the duo’s relationship was “unsalvageable.”

Snyder didn’t deny the rumors but indicated his team is ready to move forward.

“If you could imagine, you know, the emotion, the fear, all the different things that you go through,” Snyder said. “Their minds and in their feelings. It’s humbling to think about that. I think right now, you know, we’re in good shape. Those guys are getting ready to play and they’re as excited as anybody on our team or anybody in the league.”

Gobert previously confirmed the disagreement between the stars on an Instagram Live stream with Taylor Rooks,

“Me and my teammates, it’s far from perfect but at the end of the day,” Gobert said. “We both want the same thing — it’s winning. We’re grown men, and we want to win.”

Meanwhile, Mitchell told rapper Fat Joe that he was “ready to hoop” when the season returns.

Resuming Season in Orlando

With the NBA set to resume the season in Orlando, Snyder is preparing for his team to return to the practice facility. Like the rest of the NBA, Snyder’s first priority is the safety of his players and coaches.

“The NBA has done a terrific job in conjunction with the Players Association to try to mitigate and try to address some of the concerns that obviously are there,” Snyder said. “Not just with our players, but in other leagues and across the country … I know the health performance staffs are aware of it as are the coaches. So I think conditioning and all the things that go into a training camp that prepare you to play are really important.”

The Jazz will be begin conditioning in late June. On July 7, teams can begin training camp as they prepare for the conclusion of the regular season.

In addition to conditioning, Snyder is focused on the mental aspect the “bubble environment” will create.

“We’re gonna be in one location for a significant period of time,” Snyder said.  “I think guys, in spite of the layoff, are going to be really focused and prepared to play and that’s going to show itself over a regular-season period that’s obviously shorter. And I think by the time the playoffs start, you’ll see some teams that are really focused and ready to go.”

Mitchell’s Star Potential

One area of focus for the Jazz in the postseason will be Mitchell’s performance. After a stellar rookie playoff debut, the second-year guard struggled in teams first-round playoff exit last season.

“Donovan’s rookie year, he came into a situation where our team was lacking [a go-to scorer] and he’s been able to fill that for us,” Snyder said. “He’s someone that’s getting better all the time. He’s been in constant touch with our staff, figuring out what he needs to be working on. And he’s had those moments, he’s had games, he’s had big quarters in the playoffs. He’s had big games in the playoffs.”

By his second season, Mitchell was no longer catching teams off guard. As a result, opposing defenses were focusing their gameplan around slowing the All-Star guard.

“When you have a young player and all of a sudden you’re seeing different schemes — there’s a learning process that takes place,” Snyder said. “But you know, Donovan’s done that, and I have no doubt in my mind that he’s not only capable, but that’s something that we’ll see from him in the playoffs.”

However, Snyder said the scoring load won’t just fall on the shoulders of Mitchell. Despite losing Bojan Bogdanovic, the Jazz second-leading scorer to a wrist injury, the Jazz have several offensive options.

“It may not have to be one player all the time,” Snyder warned. “I think we have a very balanced team. Mike Conley is capable of getting his shot. So is Jordan Clarkson.”

Leadership Committee

On top of preparing for the playoffs, Snyder has joined a committee of coaches to combat racism in NBA cities. However, Snyder said his role in fighting racism begins with educating himself.

“One of the biggest things has been to understand and to educate yourself,” Snyder said. “I think the more that you do that, the better feel you have, the more comfort you have. And what I’ve found, personally, is whatever reluctance or discomfort there exists to talk about and really embrace and confront these issues for white people — that’s a real first step.”

Beyond personal education, Snyder said it’s the role of those who gain privilege from their race to challenge that paradigm.

“Speaking from the vantage point of a white man, who also enjoys that privilege is in those situations, it’s not enough to not characterize yourself as racist,” Snyder said. “This is about combating and confronting racism, and even when it exists in yourself.”

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