Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder made an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” program Wednesday morning, ostensibly to talk about his inclusion on the coaches association’s social justice committee.
First, though, the show’s panelists had a more pressing question: How is the relationship now between All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell?
After all, when Gobert became the first player in the NBA to test positive for COVID-19, and Mitchell became the second, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that some in the Jazz’s locker room had accused the center of being “careless.” And The Athletic subsequently wrote that their relationship “doesn’t appear salvageable,” as a result of the guard’s belief that his teammate caused him to get the disease. A source with knowledge of the situation told The Tribune that Mitchell was “frustrated.”
Snyder, in his first public comments about the alleged rift, sought to characterize their discord as a natural byproduct of an unprecedented situation, and seemed to indicate that the two are on better terms now.
“I think it’s important to take a step back as you’re thinking about those two guys. They’re both really terrific people and excellent players,” Snyder said. “This was the first time that any two players on one team — really, I think, across the world, certainly in the U.S. and in the NBA — that were diagnosed with that virus. If you can imagine the emotion, the fear, all of the different things that go through their minds and their feelings, it’s humbling to think about that, and we try to. I think right now, we’re in good shape. Those guys are getting ready to play, they’re as excited as anybody on our team or anybody in the league.”
Indeed, the Jazz are among the 22 teams who will play when the league returns to action — presumably on July 31 in Orlando.
When the season was halted, Utah stood at 41-23, and in fourth place in the Western Conference.
Mitchell, Gobert and Snyder have yet to speak to local media since the league’s hiatus.
Gobert took to social media to apologize for his “careless” behavior, and pledged $500,000 for COVID-19 relief in the United States and his native France.
Mitchell then made an appearance on “Good Morning America” while quarantined in New York in the aftermath of his coronavirus diagnosis, and did not directly answer Robin Roberts’ question about whether he’d been in communication with his teammate at that point.
“It took awhile for me to kind of cool off,” Mitchell said. “I read what he said and I heard what he said. I’m glad he’s doing OK, I’m glad I’m doing well. I’m just happy, to be honest — I hate to say that it’s two of us — but that it wasn’t the whole [Jazz traveling] party. At the end of the day, neither him nor I have children at home — I have some teammates that have children, some staff that have children at home. So I’m glad that we were able to contain it as much as possible.”
In April, Gobert did an interview with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks during an Instagram Live session, and said his relationship with Mitchell was on the mend.
“It is true that we didn’t speak for awhile, a few days, but we did speak a few days ago and, you know … we’re both ready to go out there and try to win a championship for this team,” Gobert said. “It’s all about being a professional. And, you know, everyone’s got different relationships, it’s never perfect — people that are married, it’s never perfect. So 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, we’re both gonna do what it takes to win.”
Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey told media members in a Zoom conference call in May that his team’s two stars are “ready to put this behind them, move forward, act professionally.”