Mitchell Addresses Gobert Comments, Big Market Rumors
SALT LAKE CITY – After practice Saturday, Donovan Mitchell addressed two major storylines that have emerged in the last week surrounding the Utah Jazz. First, the comments made by Rudy Gobert that seemed directed at the team’s perimeter defense, and second, a report from ESPN that he might prefer to play in a larger market.
On Friday, Gobert returned to Jazz practice having missed the last five games after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Upon his return, Gobert made comments about the “winning habits” of teams like the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns that read like a criticism of the lackluster defensive effort from his Jazz teammates in his absence.
“Devin Booker is his playing [butt] off defensively,” Gobert said. “I’ve been watching him compared to two years ago and guys like that buy-in and you can tell that they take pride in playing defense, stopping their man, doing whatever they can defensively.”
The comments came on the heels of a disastrous stretch that saw the Jazz’s defensive rating drop from fifth-best with Gobert in the lineup over the first 37 games of the season to 30th over the five games the reigning Defensive Player of the Year was off the floor.
Mitchell responded to questions about Gobert’s comments on Saturday.
“I think we all as a group find ways to hold each other accountable, that’s just his way about it, I guess,” Mitchell said. “I’m not really concerned about it. At the end of the day, we’ve got to all find ways to get better, that’s really it. We all have individual ways of doing it and his just happens to be this way.”
The All-Star guard was clearly frustrated with the way the team has performed over the last week, winning just one of the five games in which Gobert was sidelined by injury.
“We’ve just got to win tomorrow, and lock in defensively,” Mitchell said. “We’ll be alright.”
Mitchell has appeared irritated by the team’s losses over the last week, himself criticizing the performance of the team, though not using the same passive-aggressive language Gobert used when assessing the current status of the Jazz.
After blowing a 22 point first half lead to the Detroit Pistons on Monday, the guard offered blunt thoughts about the Jazz midway through the season.
“We’re fooling ourselves if we say we want to win a championship and we have a night like tonight,” Mitchell said.
Jordan Clarkson also responded to Gobert’s comments and seemed to take issue with the center’s public approach.
“We ain’t got to specify or talk about other teams and what they’re doing,” Clarkson said. “We know what we’ve got to do, that’s it plain and simple. We don’t need nobody else coming out in the media saying stuff like that, but it’s all good.”
Mitchell Addresses Big Market Rumors
Even before Gobert’s comments on Friday rumors had begun to swirl around Mitchell’s happiness in Utah fueled by comments made by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon on Brian Windhorst’s podcast.
“There is I’m going to say at least speculation around a league that market size might matter to him,” MacMahon said.
Mitchell addressed those rumors, and the timing of the story on Saturday.
“Y’all like to talk a lot when we lose,” Mitchell said. “I don’t understand. Y’all like to just keep all the negative stuff when we start losing, when we’re winning there’s nothing said.”
The podcast first aired shortly before the Jazz began their losing streak in Toronto on January 7, though Mitchell wasn’t asked about the report until Saturday, more than a week later.
“We’re trying to win, we have a goal, we have a common goal as a group and I don’t think based on our practice we give a … You know what I am going to say about whatever is being reported,” Mitchell said.
“We’re trying to win a championship, so I’ll just cut you off and answer that right there. That’s the goal and we’re not going to stop until we do. We have a great group of guys and this stretch doesn’t dictate who we are as a team.”
The Jazz will look to snap their four-game losing streak on Sunday in Denver before facing the Los Angeles Lakers Monday night.
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