Rudy Gobert downplays reported rift with teammate Donovan Mitchell

According to reports, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is upset by Gobert’s careless behaviour – which led to him also testing positive for COVID-19 last month. Gobert insists rumours their relationship is not salvageable are greatly exaggerated.

Before his positive diagnosis, Gobert was dismissive towards the rapidly-changing situation, reportedly being careless in the locker room – touching other players and their belongings – despite warnings about the severity of the pandemic. Shortly thereafter, Mitchell also tested positive for the coronavirus.

Although the 23-year-old was understandably hesitant to patch things up initially, Gobert said the pair have talked recently and in turn got back on the same page, contrary to speculation.

“It’s true that we didn’t speak for a while after this, but we spoke a few days ago,” Gobert said on Instagram Live on Sunday, via ESPN.

“We’re both ready to go out there and try to win a championship for this team. 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.

“There’s no fight [between us]. It’s all about thousands of people are dying every day, and what we can do to help, to bring some positivity. That’s what my focus is on now.”

While Gobert apologised to Mitchell and the rest of his Jazz teammates privately, he issued a public apology last month admitting embarrassment by his handling of the situation and wished he’d taken it more seriously.

Analysis

With 2020 marking the year both players were recognised as first-time All-Stars, their importance to the Jazz going forward cannot be understated.

Mitchell was averaging career-highs in points (24.2), rebounds (4.4), FG% (45.3%), alongside incremental growth at the FT line and from deep too.

Gobert signed a four-year, $102m extension in 2016, while Mitchell – establishing himself as their franchise star – is expected to sign improved terms next summer once his rookie deal finishes.

It’s why there’s so much riding on their relationship: the Jazz’ future could depend on whether they can remain friends or civil on court at least, following an incident like this.

Utah are already refusing to choose between the pair. Some critics have questioned Mitchell’s true intentions with potential suitors across the league, though only time will tell whether Gobert’s comments are true.

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