Jazz exec – Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell ready to ‘move forward’

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Utah Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey expressed optimism about the continued partnership of franchise cornerstones Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell in the wake of their rift following their positive tests for the coronavirus.

Gobert and Mitchell did not speak to each other for a month after Gobert’s positive test on March 11 triggered the suspension of the NBA season. Mitchell, who tested positive the next day, has acknowledged that he was upset with Gobert, who publicly apologized for careless behavior before he was aware that he was infected with the coronavirus.

“They’re ready to put this behind them, move forward, act professionally,” Lindsey said on a Zoom call Tuesday with media. “Look, the COVID-19 night of March [11] was really unprecedented. It brought a microscope to our team, and we get it. With that said, we’re very pleased with the collective makeup of our group, Donovan and Rudy in particular.

“We look forward to moving forward. They’ve said their piece to each other. They’ve both visited at the ownership level, at management level, at the coaches level, at the players level with each other.”

In a video post to Instagram Live on April 12, Gobert acknowledged that he had only recently spoken with Mitchell for the first time since the suspension of the season, but downplayed their differences.

“We’re both ready to go out there and try to win a championship for this team,” Gobert said then. “It’s not about being unprofessional. You know, everyone has got different relationships — it’s never perfect. People that are married, it’s never perfect. So you know, me and my teammates, it’s far from perfect. But at the end of the day, we both want the same thing — and it’s winning. We’re both grown men, and we both are going to do what it takes to win.”

Mitchell has not publicly commented about his relationship with Gobert since acknowledging that “it took a while for me to cool off” during a March 16 appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Gobert and Mitchell, who both made their first All-Star appearances this season, have enjoyed significant on-court success in their three years together.

Mitchell became the first rookie since Carmelo Anthony to be the leading scorer on a playoff team in 2017-18, filling a void left by Gordon Hayward‘s departure in free agency and helping Utah advance to the Western Conference semifinals. Gobert won his first Defensive Player of the Year award that season, earning the honor again last season.

The Jazz currently are in fourth place in the West standings with a 41-23 record. Mitchell is averaging career bests of 24.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Gobert is averaging 15.1 points, a career-best 13.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.

The Jazz, who remodeled the roster over the past year to add offensive firepower around their co-stars, remain steadfast in their hope to build a perennial contender around Gobert and Mitchell for the foreseeable future.

“At the most basic level, they know that they need each other to accomplish the goals we want to accomplish as being the last team left standing in the NBA,” Lindsey said.

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