Donovan Mitchell: I Told Jazz Front Office ‘Don’t Trade Rudy’
SALT LAKE CITY – Donovan Mitchell said he told the Utah Jazz front office not to trade Rudy Gobert before they made the blockbuster deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Mitchell sat down with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski after being announced as a member of the Cavaliers on Wednesday and discussed the whirlwind offseason that ultimately sent him to Cleveland.
“I told Danny [Ainge] and Justin [Zanik] and all those guys, ‘Look, don’t trade Rudy,'” Mitchell said. “‘Don’t trade him, let’s find things that we need to work on and build upon, and let’s make this thing happen.'”
Donovan Mitchell told Woj that he and Will Hardy were in Connecticut talking about how to make the team work with he and Rudy Gobert when the @utahjazz traded Gobert to Minnesota.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) September 15, 2022
The All-star guard said new Jazz coach Will Hardy joined him in his Connecticut home to discuss how the team could operate with Gobert on the floor when he learned the All-Star center had been traded to Minnesota.
“Believe it or not we were talking about how Rudy and I can work,” Mitchell said. “In that moment, we were talking about how we can work — what he sees in our sets, and literally his phone and my phone started blowing up while we’re in the backyard of my house and I’m like, ‘Well, I guess this is irrelevant.'”
Hardy was announced as the Jazz head coach on June 28, and Gobert was traded to the Timberwolves on July 1.
That’s when Mitchell said he understood Ainge, Zanik, and the Jazz front office had decided to move the team in a new direction.
“We weren’t in a position to win right now,” Mitchell recognized after the trade. “We just traded an All-Star, potential Hall of Fame center. And I really didn’t see what the plan was.”
All-Star Donovan Mitchell joins The Woj Pod on his blockbuster move to Cleveland, the Knicks trade that never happened, Utah, much more. Plus: Koby Altman inside the deal talks and JB Bickerstaff on his starry roster.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 15, 2022
The move came on the heels of years of reported disharmony between Mitchell and Gobert. The two stars had their first public disagreement in March of 2020 when Gobert became the first NBA player to publically test positive for COVID-19, with Mitchell testing positive the next day.
The players regained their composure on the floor during of the 2020-21 season, but an early playoff exit at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers upped the pressure on the duo once again.
This past January, Gobert offered passive-aggressive comments about Mitchell’s on-court performance, which reignited rumors of discord in the Jazz locker room.
Rudy Gobert was pretty blunt after shootaround today. The #UtahJazz don't have the same winning habits as teams like the Suns and Warriors.
"I just think we're not there yet. I think we're going to get there…"#TakeNote l @KSLSports pic.twitter.com/jgiLXi9mJ9
— Sam Farnsworth (@Samsworth_KSL) January 14, 2022
After the shorthanded Dallas Mavericks eliminated the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs, the Jazz front office decided it was time to break up the roster.
“We won a lot of games and had a lot of success, but we were tapped out from a potential standpoint,” Zanik said. “We needed to reset that, so those opportunities came this summer and we were able to take advantage of it.”
The new-look Jazz retake the floor to begin the preseason on October 2 while Mitchell will make his Cavaliers debut on October 5 against the Philadelphia 76ers.
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