Despite the most recent statement coming from Rudy Gobert about his relationship with Donovan Mitchell, the two still need to iron out some wrinkles in order to win at the highest level.
The good news for the Utah Jazz this week came straight from the mouth of Rudy Gobert on Instagram live Sunday afternoon. According to him, he and Donovan Mitchell had spoken to each other breaking their silence of over a month.
He stated that his plans of winning a championship in Utah with Donovan Mitchell have not changed despite a source claiming their relationship was no longer salvageable.
Jazz nation collectively breathed a sigh of relief after trade ideas were running rampant all over the internet involving both Mitchell and Gobert. But despite the encouraging comments, things aren’t all rosy in the Beehive State.
For one, the looming question of Rudy Gobert’s super-max extension still remains, which most likely brought up these problems in the first place. Gordon Monson of the Salt Lake Tribune put it well, saying:
“Back the thing up to before the season started and note that Gobert wants a max deal, maybe a super-max, one that will pay him a gazillion dollars when his current deal ends after next season. Only the best players in the NBA are privileged to get that kind of contract, one that could take up to 35 percent of a team’s payroll, and — yeah, here’s a shock — Gobert wants to prove to everyone that he is, in fact, one of the best.
In order for that to happen, the proudest premier rim protector on the planet is set on showing that he is more than just that, especially in a league that is evolving away from the traditional role of the traditional center. Gobert is eager to demonstrate that he is an offensive threat, too, that he can be dominant at both ends.”
Monson continued to explain that Rudy was eager to have more offensive touches, which ultimately frustrated Mitchell and other teammates in the locker room.
Were there times that Rudy Gobert was either open or had a mis-match, and his teammates failed to give him the ball? Absolutely, our very own Zack Padmore covered that in detail in February.
Yet, there were also plenty of other times where his teammates did pass him the ball, to which he either fumbled the pass or threw up a wayward hook shot that hit backboard if he was lucky.
It’s no wonder why Bill Riley of ESPN 700 claimed that a source close to the situation said Gobert has been acting like a “diva” this season with the Jazz organization. He wants to be the best player he can be, and gets understandably upset when he doesn’t get his proper touches.
This 200 million dollar won’t be going away anytime soon, and it has a eerie feeling to the Dwight-mare that happened in Orlando a decade ago.
Dwight Howard was a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and didn’t do much offensively outside of catching lobs and finishing off pick and rolls created by his teammates. Yet he wanted more touches offensively, despite being one of the best players in the Eastern Conference.
He ultimately held the Orlando Magic hostage, forcing them to fire coach Stan van Gundy, before demanding a trade out of Florida altogether. The Magic have only been back to the playoffs once since the big trade.
I do realize that Rudy Gobert is nowhere near the drama queen Dwight Howard was back in his younger days, nevertheless he still has some work to do once things get back to normal with NBA basketball.
He needs to realize that he doesn’t need to expand his offensive game at all, and that in doing so he takes away opportunities from one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the game. And he also needs to realize that taking the most money possible could handicap the Jazz in their chase for a title.
As for Donovan Mitchell, he has his faults as well. He was one of the main culprits of ball handlers that failed to get the ball to Rudy Gobert when he was open or on a mis-match. And on the other side of the court, Gobert constantly has to clean up after Donovan’s defensive mistakes.
His Instagram post was a little passive-aggressive towards those who were being careless about the novel coronavirus, Rudy Gobert in particular although he never made mention of him.
And his silence on social media about Rudy has been the most worrisome. He’s had ample opportunities to address the situation on him and Rudy, whether it’s jumping on a train of tweets about Rudy Gobert’s cooking skills, or simply wishing his teammate a speedy recovery from the virus.
He hasn’t hesitated to give public shout outs to other NBA players though, such as his teammate Mike Conley competing in the H-O-R-S-E competition, his teammate Royce O’Neale and their video games they play, or sending his condolences to Karl-Anthony Towns.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with any of those interactions. Mitchell does quite well for himself in building a good public and marketing image for himself and the Utah Jazz.
But in being such a large figure on social media, his silence on Gobert has been deafening the past month.
I’m not too worried now that they can get back together and return to being a 50 win team once basketball resumes. What I am worried about is if their butting heads with each other will stunt the Jazz’s growth from a 50 to a 60 win team, and a championship team.
Will Gobert force the Jazz into paying him the super-max? If he doesn’t get extended at all before the start of next season, will the Jazz put him on the trading block so he doesn’t walk away the way Gordon Hayward did three years ago?
In conclusion, it was good to hear Rudy say that he and Donovan have talked recently. But it doesn’t change the fact that they have some work to do once business picks back up in the future.