The date is March 9. The NBA is going on as scheduled for the time being. The COVID-19 pandemic is just starting to take off. At the end of a press conference, Rudy Gobert was seen rubbing his hands all over nearly a dozen microphones in the press room.
Two days later, he wasn’t feeling too well. It turns out, he had the coronavirus. And he gave it to his teammate Donovan Mitchell. And on the same night, the NBA suspended their season.
Before this happened and the two got their positive test results, they had been spending a lot of time together. And it doesn’t take a genius to understand how deadly the virus is. Gobert’s actions were selfish and stupid, just trying to be funny in a situation that requires none of it.
And it seems that Mitchell, per sources, is reluctant to consider forgiving Gobert for what happened.
We saw Donovan on camera during the NBA 2K Tournament when he was playing against Rui Hachimura of the Washington Wizards. No mentions of Gobert were made over the course of gameplay.
And when you think about the situation, Mitchell does have plenty of reasons to be upset with Utah’s starting All-Star center. He could have put his teammate’s life and family’s lives in peril from the actions he undertook. The future of the team and any hopes at making it through the tough conference lie with these two youngsters.
Tough Situation For Utah
If one of them were to request a trade, it would devastate the Jazz. It is not like when Gordon Hayward left in free agency, as his exit actually led them to trade for Mitchell in the draft.
It isn’t like when they were always changing big man duos in the 2000s and 2010s. Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur to Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. To Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. To Favors and Gobert.
There are only 24 players selected to the All-Star Game each year, and Utah is lucky to have two of them on the roster from this year’s game.
While the haul for either one of them would be tremendous, it would immediately undo all the progress they have made in the past three years. They made it to round two during the 2017-18 season by knocking off Oklahoma City in the first round.
A year ago, they ran into a tough matchup with the Rockets and got knocked out relatively quickly. It was unclear how this year might have gone if games were still being played, but it is clear they were going to be a tough group to beat.
If you had to rank the top eight players at each position in the NBA, both Mitchell and Gobert are likely going to be on those lists. They have tremendous floor chemistry and a good pick-and-roll game going on between them.
And while it is very understandable for Mitchell to be upset and possibly done with Gobert, the team’s future hangs in the balance of their relationship.
The circumstances are very different from what the Lakers’ were when Shaq and Kobe split. But it will have that kind of effect here. A splitting of the two of them would be like LA 2.0.
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