Report: Jazz’s two biggest stars are ‘under each other’s skin’
The Utah Jazz have played their worst basketball of the season over the past month, and the poor play may be costing them more than just playoff position.
There have been some indications recently that Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are not getting along. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim MacMahon said on the latest “Hoop Collective” podcast that those rumors are accurate. MacMahon described the current dynamic between Mitchell and Gobert as “passively aggressively awkward.” Windhorst added that the situation would be getting far more attention if the two superstars played in a bigger market.
“It’s the most underplayed story in the league, I think,” Windhorst said, as transcribed by RealGM. “The Jazz are struggling a lot. This team had big expectations and they’re getting passed by frankly. They are not on the level they were a year ago. Donovan and Gobert, even though they’re both under long-term contract, are under each other’s skin. There’s all kind of subtweeting and passive aggressive stuff going on.”
The Jazz have lost 11 of their last 14 games. They’re still in fourth in the Western Conference, but they’re clearly headed in the wrong direction. The “subtweet” Windhorst referred to was likely when Gobert was critical of his teammates recently, and Mitchell appeared to subtly take note of it.
“Gobert and Mitchell have been at each other’s — I don’t know if I can say at each other’s throats. … If these guys played for the Knicks or Nets or even the Suns or something, Stephen A. (Smith) would be talking about this on First Take, because it is two All-Star level players.”
Mitchell and Gobert are both under contract for several more seasons, but their relationship is starting to seem unsustainable. Mitchell may already be craving a bigger market. He and Gobert also infamously butted heads at the start of the pandemic two years ago.
Winning can usually resolve locker room issues, but the Jazz haven’t done much of that lately. Should the trend continue, things may get even more tense in Utah.
Photo: Dec 7, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) warms up prior to their game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports