Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were the centerpieces of the Utah Jazz for five years, but by the end of their time together there were countless reports of friction between them.
This offseason, the Jazz started anew, trading Gobert to Minnesota and Mitchell to Cleveland, giving all parties a fresh start and a chance to try something else. While Gobert’s start with the Wolves has been a bit rocky, Mitchell and the Cavs, and the new-look Jazz are exceeding expectations. Utah is stunningly 17-15 on the season when it seemed like tanking was inevitable, while the Cavs are 20-11, good for third in the East, just two games back of the Bucks and Celtics.
For Mitchell, he’s clearly enjoying himself in his new home, and recently spoke with Marc Spears of Andscape about how everything ended in Utah and his start in Cleveland. Among the topics was his relationship with Gobert, where he once again reiterated that he doesn’t hate Rudy, but explained why the two just didn’t work on the basketball court.
Honestly, basketball just didn’t work. We live in such a world where it has to be really negative. Basketball just didn’t work. We didn’t see eye to eye. We wanted to both win, but we wanted to do it two different ways. It didn’t work. But as far as him and I go as people, I don’t hate him, and he doesn’t hate me. I wouldn’t say we’re the best of friends, but we’re not at the point where it’s like, I can’t stand him.
[When I see him], I’m going to give him a hug and be happy to see him. And I wish him the best. There’s no hatred. There’s no ill will towards any of that. Basketball just didn’t work out. It happens. Our [relationship] just happened to be a little more out there than anybody else’s. But honestly, it really started with COVID. Everything we did up to that point was under microscope to the point where we were getting evaluated on how many times we threw the ball [to each other].
And that’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality of it. And it just didn’t work. I wish it did. I wish we went farther. We had the opportunity, but we didn’t. And we’re both in different spots now. But I want to wish him the best and I know he feels the same way.
The pass count era of the Mitchell-Gobert partnership was a truly special time in the discourse — to be fair, it was odd how few passes went between them — but the entire time the two have insisted there wasn’t a massive rift between them. Mitchell has admitted that the one time the reports got things right about him being furious with Rudy was after the COVID shutdown, but even that was something he came to realize wasn’t for sure Gobert’s fault.
Overall, they approached the game of basketball differently and when the Jazz failed with both making little sacrifices, that’s they type of thing that further drives the two apart and makes them more entrenched in their beliefs. Now, they’ll get a chance to prove themselves separate from one another, and for now that’s going better for Mitchell which is probably why he can look back less than a year removed with a more positive outlook.