BEN ANDERSON

Jazz, Mitchell Deserve Kudos For Low Drama Summer

Aug 9, 2022, 1:49 PM | Updated: 1:50 pm
Donovan Mitchell - Danny Ainge - BYU Cougars - USF Bulls...
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and BYU legend Danny Ainge (Courtesy of BYU Photo)
(Courtesy of BYU Photo)

SALT LAKE CITY – In what might be the most volatile summer in the history of the Utah Jazz, both the organization and soon-to-be former face of the franchise Donovan Mitchell deserve credit for how they’ve behaved.

After May’s earlier-than-expected playoff exit to the Dallas Mavericks, Mitchell could have easily run down the organization he’s called home for the last five seasons, forcing his way out of Utah in hopes of accelerating his move to a new team.

Similarly, the Jazz front office could have criticized Mitchell’s non-commital answer when pressed on whether he wanted to remain in Utah long term.

Instead, both parties handled their business internally, and have quietly been looking for a resolution to the situation over the last several months.

Mitchell has spent his summer on the east coast taking in Mets baseball games while working out in New York and Miami.

The Jazz meanwhile have been busy dismantling one of the more talented rosters in the NBA, a process that will undoubtedly include moving Mitchell in the not-so-distant future.

While that process may have stretched on longer than some Jazz fans had hoped, it hasn’t been ugly, and it hasn’t hurt either the franchise or the stellar reputation of the budding young star.

That’s a major win for both sides, especially in today’s NBA that has been plagued By ugly divorces between teams and their superstars over the last 18 months.

In January of 2021, James Harden forced his way out of Houston, the town he’d called home for eight and a half seasons by showing up to camp out of shape and lethargic.

Barely a year later, Harden again forced his way out of Brooklyn after a dogged start to the season with the Nets.

On the other side of the Harden trade was Ben Simmons who simply refused to suit up for the Philadelphia 76ers after a public spat with head coach Doc Rivers and fellow star Joel Embiid.

Ultimately both the 76ers and Simmons got their wish by moving the guard in a blockbuster trade, but they wasted a full season in the process.

Similarly, despite what should have been their golden years after assembling one of the most star-studded rosters in recent memory, the Nets have been embroiled in drama all summer surrounding Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

First, the team struggled to come to a contract agreement with Irving which ultimately led to the superstar guard opting into the final year of his deal, a loss for both sides. Then, immediately following Iriving’s decision, Durant demanded a trade.

On Monday, Durant again met with Nets owner Joe Tsai and reiterated that he preferred to be traded, but if he were to remain a Net, they must move on from head coach Steven Nash and general manager Sean Marks.

Inevitably, Durant and Irving will likely be moved before the February trade deadline, but the damage to both players’ reputations and the confidence in the Nets organization can’t be undone.

The Jazz could have faced a similar situation with Mitchell this summer, to make no mention of the exits of both Rudy Gobert and coach Quin Snyder, two major staples of the franchise over the last decade.

But unlike Houston, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia over the last year and a half, the Jazz have maintained their dignity in the face of so much uncertainty.  So too have Mitchell, Gobert, and Snyder.

Though the Jazz clearly aren’t immune to the high-turnover culture of the modern NBA, they’ve managed to do it while sparring their fans an unnecessary headache. For that, they deserve credit.

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