Mitchell, Clarkson Dispute Jazz Lack Of Belief In Each Other

Sep 15, 2022, 1:21 PM | Updated: 1:21 pm
Jordan Clarkson - Donovan Mitchell - Utah Jazz...
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) comes off the court with praise from Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019. (Courtesy of Deseret News)
(Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Both Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson disagreed with comments made by Danny Ainge earlier this week that the Utah Jazz lacked belief in one another.

Ainge made the comments on Monday as he and general manager Justin Zanik addressed the blockbuster move that sent Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“What I saw during the season was a group of players that really didn’t believe in each other,” Ainge said in a frank diagnosis of the Jazz’s shortcomings.

However, in a series of interviews with ESPN, both Clarkson and Mitchell disputed Ainge’s perspective.

Mitchell was officially introduced to the Cleveland media on Wednesday and addressed Ainge’s comments with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“That’s his assumption after being around for six months,” Mitchell said, “it’s easy to look at things from the outside in and get your own perception on stuff.”

The guard acknowledged the Jazz’s multiple shortcomings in the playoffs over the last three seasons but said it had nothing to do with a lack of belief in one another.

“Obviously, our time and our clock had run out, but I wouldn’t say that we didn’t believe in each other,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think that’s fair after six months.”

Clarkson echoed Mitchell’s thoughts on an appearance with Jalen Rose and David Jacoby on Wednesday. The former Sixth Man of the Year said there was no internal doubt between the team.

“I think we all believed in each other,” Clarkson said. “We believed in everything that we could do.”

Ainge joined the Jazz in December of 2021 and resisted making moves to the roster at the February trade deadline in hopes the team would come together in time for the postseason.

Despite keeping the roster together, the Jazz were eliminated by the shorthanded Dallas Mavericks in six games. By season’s end, the team’s brain trust decided it was time to break up the group.

“I gave them that benefit of the doubt, but it was clear that the team did not perform well in the playoffs again,” Ainge said.

“This was something that we discussed internally between all of us. And I think it was unanimous that this was the direction we needed to go.”

Clarkson said he recognized how the Jazz management came to that decision but believed the team’s roster was still pulling in the same direction.

“It’s nothing to go against Danny Ainge or anything,” Clarkson clarified, “maybe the relationship made it look that way, but I think we was all strong, and we was all trying to get to the same goal.”

The Jazz will host media day on September 26 with training camp opening on the 27th.

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