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#pounditSunday, September 27, 2020

Articles tagged: Utah Jazz

Donovan Mitchell responds to Utah company dumping Jazz suite over kneeling, BLM support

Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell responded on Thursday to a Utah company’s decision to cancel its suite at Jazz games.

Salt Lake County-based SME Steel Contractors sent a letter to Jazz owner Gail Miller on Sept. 9 announcing its decision to cancel its suite at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The company began licensing a suite annually since 1992 and estimates it has spent $6 million on suites over the years.

The company is upset with the way the NBA, its teams, and its players have politicized the sport. They took issue with players and coaches kneeling during the national anthem, as well as messages around courts supporting the Black Lives Matter political organization.

“The recent actions of the NBA — including the owners, coaches and players of the Utah Jazz — have converted a beloved entertainment venue into a forum for dissemination of political propaganda which is divisive and completely out of step with our company and its values,” they said in their letter.

The company acknowledges that teams and players are free to express their views, but says there may be consequences, such as the company’s response.

“They cannot, however, force paying customers, to be subjected to their ostentatious acts of disrespect for our country and its values, without any consequences.”

The company said it would not keep its suite until Black Lives Matter logos are removed from the arena and kneeling during the national anthem is stopped.

Mitchell, who is the team’s young, star player, responded on Twitter Thursday. He said the company had the right to cancel its suite, while he and his fellow players have the right to kneel for the anthem.

Mitchell is incorrect about having a constitutionally-protected right to kneel in the workplace. The U.S. Constitution’s free speech rights do not apply to workers in the workplace, though the NBA is allowing (and arguably encouraging) him and other players to do so.

Mitchell was one of the stars of the bubble even though the Jazz lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Denver Nuggets. The 24-year-old averaged a career-high 24 points per game this season and made his first All-Star team.

Report: Donovan Mitchell will sign five-year max extension with Jazz

Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell was heartbroken after the Utah Jazz were eliminated from the playoffs on Tuesday night, but he’s going to have plenty more opportunities to bring the franchise a title.

Mitchell is eligible for a rookie maximum contract extension this offseason, and. Following Utah’s 80-78 loss to, he admitted to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he was concerned about potentially suffering an injury during the NBA restart and jeopardizing his future earnings. Mitchell did not want to let his teammates down, however.

“There are younger guys who aren’t established in this league and needed this time to show their value,” Mitchell said. “It would have been selfish of me to stand in the way of that. I couldn’t let my contract get in the way of the bigger picture.”

Fortunately, Mitchell did not suffer an injury. He averaged 36.3 points per game in the seven-game series against the Nuggets, scoring more than 50 twice. According to Haynes, Mitchell and the Jazz already have a handshake agreement in place for a five-year contract extension worth roughly $160 million this offseason.

The ending of Tuesday night’s game was as brutal as it gets for the Jazz, but Mitchell further cemented himself as one of the game’s biggest stars. Signing him to a max extension is a no-brainer for Utah.

Report: Rival Western Conference teams angry with Jazz for sitting starters against Spurs

The Utah Jazz made the decision to sit their regular starters due to injury and rest in Friday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs, and that apparently hasn’t sat well with some of their Western Conference rivals.

Utah’s decision was particularly beneficial to the Spurs, who are chasing the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The teams competing with them are apparently less than thrilled with how the Jazz handled things.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Spurs’ rivals for the eighth spot were “somewhere between displeased and livid” the Jazz sat starters in the game.

Utah broke no rules, as Wojnarowski notes. Four starters were injured, and those injuries were properly documented. In addition, the decision to rest Rudy Gobert was in full compliance with NBA rules. This is more an optics issue than anything else, but it’s understandable why teams would be angry given the advantage the Spurs got a result. They’ll likely be even more angry if Utah does something similar in the team’s next meeting with San Antonio on Thursday, which the Jazz have good reasons to do.

The Spurs are now lurking in tenth in the West, one game behind ninth-placed Portland and two behind the Memphis Grizzlies in eighth.

Report: Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert had issues before coronavirus drama

Donovan Mitchell

The relationship between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert may never be the same in the wake of the circumstances surrounding both Utah Jazz stars testing positive for the coronavirus, but it might be an exaggeration to say the situation impacted their friendship. In reality, Mitchell and Gobert were never close friends to begin with.

ESPN’s Tim MacMahon took a close look at the relationship between Mitchell and Gobert, and what he learned was that there was “friction” between the two long before they both tested positive for COVID-19. The issues are said to be typical for two NBA stars playing together and were described by one Jazz source as “a 2 out of 10 on the NBA drama scale,” but they were magnified when Gobert’s positive test brought the sports world to a screeching halt back in March.

Gobert is often animated with his Jazz teammates when he feels he was open and should have gotten the ball, and there have been numerous examples of that involving Mitchell. Gobert also took a lighthearted swipe at Mitchell during an interview following a home win over the Detroit Pistons on Jan. 14, 2019. The center had 18 points, 25 rebounds and two blocks in the game and was conducting an on-court interview when Mitchell came up behind him messing around. Gobert turned to his All-Star teammate and jokingly told him to “pass the ball, God dammit.”

MacMahon says that remark made many within the Jazz organization uncomfortable, as they knew there was some truth behind it. That type of attitude from Gobert toward Mitchell has created some tension between the two.

“If you take a paper towel and just drip water on it, the paper towel is going to get moist and then it’s going to get damp and eventually it’s going to break,” one Jazz source said. “Rudy has to pick his spots, and Donovan can’t react to everything. Sometimes you have to play chess and appease your teammates.”

Gobert, to his credit, acknowledges that he “can be very annoying.” He also said he is sometimes tougher on Mitchell because he is proud of everything the team has accomplished and wants to hold everyone to a high standard.

“Like with me, people can be hard on me and I can handle it, but for some guys, it can become very frustrating. I can understand that 100 percent,” Gobert said. “Donovan has gotten better every year since he’s gotten here. I think he’s going to keep getting a lot better. It’s pretty much, I’m the a–hole.”

In other words, Mitchell and Gobert were probably never going to spend the holidays together. That is true of a lot of star teammates in the NBA, but the coronavirus situation obviously added to the tension. Mitchell was upset with the cavalier attitude Gobert showed toward COVID-19 before Gobert tested positive, and MacMahon was told Mitchell blamed Gobert for infecting him even if it could not be proven.

Mitchell insists things are fine now between him and Gobert, but the situation will be one to monitor both in Orlando this year and going forward in Utah.

Most crucial questions facing Western Conference’s elite

Anthony Davis Lakers

The NBA is gearing up for a return next month, and the expectation is that we will have playoff basketball. As the Western Conference’s elite teams prepare for the return of the season, we take a look at the most critical question that will define each team’s chances at contending for a championship.

(You can find the biggest questions facing the Eastern Conference’s top teams here)


Report: ‘Almost zero chance’ Mike Conley will be traded by Jazz

Mike Conley got off to an extremely rough start in his first season with the Jazz this year, and there has been a lot of speculation that Utah could look to part ways with him this offseason. One reporter who covers the team does not see that happening.

In his latest mailbag this week, Tony Jones of The Athletic was asked if the Jazz could move on from Conley this offseason to achieve better roster balance and open up more time for Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson. Jones described the chances of it happening as “almost zero.”

“There’s almost zero chance of the Jazz moving on from Conley,” he wrote. “First, they don’t want to. Second, even if they did, it would be exceptionally difficult to do so given his contract … Conley was playing his best basketball of the season (before the postponement), especially so because he’s finally gotten comfortable with the system. So Conley will almost definitely be in a Jazz uniform next season.”

Conley appeared to have turned a corner just before the NBA season was halted, and he spoke like he was getting much more comfortable with the team. His 13.8 points per game don’t look impressive, but he was hitting his stride at the perfect time for the No. 4 seed Jazz.

The Jazz had to experiment with different lineups at one point due to Conley’s struggles, so it will be interesting to see if the 32-year-old picks up where he left off. If he can continue to play the way he was three months ago, Utah could be an extremely tough out in the postseason.

Jazz reporter: Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell will work things out

Donovan Mitchell

The Utah Jazz were at the center of the coronavirus pandemic when center Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for the virus. That happened in March and led to the immediate suspension of the league’s season.

Not only did Gobert’s positive test lead to the suspension of the season and many other pro sports events to suspend play as well, but it caused an issue within the Jazz.

Gobert’s teammate, Donovan Mitchell, also tested positive for the virus and seemed to be ticked off at Gobert about it.

Even though a report said the relationship between the two was not salvageable, the two players spoke and seemed to work things out.

On top of that, The Athletic’s Tony Jones wrote in a mailbag published Monday that he believes the team and players will make it through this.

Enough time has passed since both players had the virus, and each of them have been cleared. If they can’t work things out — and if Mitchell can’t forgive Gobert more than a month later — than he has some serious maturity issues to overcome.

The Jazz were 41-23 and emerging as one of the better teams in the West prior to the season’s suspension.

Report: Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell relationship ‘doesn’t appear salvageable’

Donovan Mitchell

It has been one full month since Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and became the NBA’s patient zero, and the Utah Jazz center has since apologized multiple times for the cavalier attitude he showed toward the disease before he contracted it. That does not appear to be enough for fellow Jazz star Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell also tested positive for the coronavirus, and he seemed to take a swipe at Gobert when providing an update about his condition a couple of days later. Gobert infamously mocked the concerns about coronavirus by touching every microphone and recorder in front of him two days before he tested positive, and his teammates were understandably bothered by it. The Athletic published a behind-the-scenes look on Friday at the days surrounding Gobert’s positive test, and the story cited sources who claim Mitchell still has not forgiven Gobert.

Sources told The Athletic that Mitchell has been reluctant to work on relieving the tension between him and Gobert, with one insider saying the relationship between the two players “doesn’t appear salvageable.”

That could change, of course, and Jazz forward Joe Ingles seems confident that it will.

“I’m confident our team is going to be totally fine,” Ingles said. “I heard Donovan’s response (on GMA), or whatever it was, to that question, and a part of that is on Donovan and Rudy to sort out if he’s frustrated with him or whatever. But I have no doubt when we go back to training, or when our season starts again, our team is going to be what we have been and what we are. … I’m confident our team will be completely fine. The chemistry will be fine.”

The interview Ingles was referring to was when Mitchell appeared on “Good Morning America” on March 16 and said it took a while for him to “cool off” after the way Gobert acted.

It can’t be proven that Gobert passed the coronavirus to Mitchell, but Gobert visited with family from France not long before he tested positive. Mitchell obviously feels he contracted COVID-19 from Gobert, and you can understand why.

Quin Snyder spoke with players at length about the coronavirus before Gobert tested positive, with some reportedly feeling the Jazz coach was being overly cautious. It’s safe to assume Gobert was among those who believed Snyder was being too paranoid, but Gobert is clearly remorseful and has tried to do what he can to help others who are impacted by the coronavirus.

Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell cleared from coronavirus

Rudy Gobert

The first known NBA player to contract the coronavirus has finally been cleared.

The Utah Jazz announced on Friday that Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and all of the team’s players and personnel have been cleared by the Utah Department of Health to end their isolations, meaning they are not at risk of infecting anyone else with COVID-19.

Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus on March 11, and his positive test essentially brought the entire sports world to a screeching halt. The NBA quickly postponed its season, setting off a domino effect of almost all other leagues doing the same.

Gobert had initially mocked the coronavirus paranoia, and he later apologized for not taking it seriously and putting others at risk.

Mitchell tested positive after Gobert. Mitchell and other Jazz players were reportedly upset with Gobert for how he handled himself. Gobert has since tried to make things right by urging people to take COVID-19 seriously and making a huge donation.

Oklahoma used 58 coronavirus tests on the Utah Jazz, but the decision made sense

Rudy Gobert

The statistics surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the United States, are difficult to quantify, largely because there is not enough testing available to confirm cases. That’s one reason why social distancing is strongly encouraged to proactively help prevent the spread of the virus.

The limited amount of available tests has also led to questions about why such a disproportionate amount were used on an NBA team.

On Friday, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne published a look inside how the NBA came to the decision Wednesday night to suspend the season. The decision was made after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who was previously listed as out for that evening’s game due to illness, tested positive for the coronavirus.

After Gobert tested positive, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver knew right away that the season would have to be suspended. Players from both the Jazz and Thunder were pulled off the floor immediately. Jazz players were given masks and gloves and told to wait in the locker room.

According to the ESPN article, Oklahoma state officials arrived to test all 58 members of the Jazz’s traveling party. At the time, the state health department only had the capacity to run about 100 tests per day. The state was down to a supply of about 250 total tests as of Thursday, State Epidemiologist Laurence Burnsed said via The Oklahoman. But they received 500 more on Friday.

So why were so many tests used on one NBA team’s traveling party?

Here are some answers.

First, having one famous NBA player test positive increased nationwide awareness for the issue on an enormous scale. Secondly, you have to start somewhere you think the virus is present and work to stop it. That’s what the officials were doing with the Jazz.

Finally, members of NBA teams are in close contact with each other, trainers, coaches, fans, referees, game officials, media members, arena staffers, and many more on a daily basis, and they travel from city to city. They can spread a virus much more readily than someone from any one community in Oklahoma, who doesn’t do much more than go to and from work most days.

One of the main jobs of a state health department is to act in the interest of the health of the people. Even if they used a high proportion of tests on one team, it was a wise decision.

This isn’t about elitism or professional athletes getting favorable treatment because they’re more important. This is about problem solving: how do we stop the spread of this virus most effectively with limited resources? And the answer is to try stopping those with the ability to contact the greatest amount. I believe the state accomplished this goal in an effective manner.