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Donovan Mitchell losing support of 1 key Jazz figure?

Donovan Mitchell looks on

Jan 16, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Donovan Mitchell’s grip on the Utah Jazz organization may be slipping.

In a recent appearance on “The Hoop Collective,” ESPN’s Tim MacMahon indicated that Jazz executive Danny Ainge has some doubts about the All-Star guard Mitchell.

“The whispers around the league are that Danny Ainge is not convinced that Donovan Mitchell can be the face of a contending franchise,” MacMahon said. “The other thing is [Utah] let Royce O’Neale go … That was [Mitchell’s] best friend on the Jazz … Donovan strongly suggested [the Jazz] go out and get his childhood best friend, Eric Paschall, who they did not extend a qualifying offer to [this summer after rostering Paschall last season].

It certainly feels like there is a changing of the guard right now in Utah. In addition to dumping O’Neale and Paschall, the Jazz recently sent Mitchell’s longtime co-star Rudy Gobert packing in a trade with Minnesota. They also gave their head coaching job to 34-year-old Will Hardy, a first-year head coach who all but screams “rebuild.”

For Ainge, who was hired by Utah last December, he has a known fondness for total teardowns when he feels that a team is past their title window. Back when he was still in charge of the Boston Celtics, Ainge barely had to think twice before trading franchise icons Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn in 2013 to begin a full-scale roster reconstruction.

The three-time All-Star Mitchell does not sound fully onboard with all the changes happening in Utah at the moment. While the Jazz continue to say that they plan to build around Mitchell, the seeds may already have been planted for an eventual Donovan departure as well.

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