The Jazz have already begun working on the Mitchell-Gobert relationship, but sources say Mitchell remains reluctant to fix what might have been broken.
“It doesn’t appear salvageable,” one source with knowledge of the situation said.
In the two travel days leading into Utah’s game at Oklahoma City, Gobert and Mitchell shared space on a regular basis, sitting near each other on buses and the team plane, according to sources. Still, there’s no way to know if Gobert gave it to Mitchell or if it was the other way around or some other factor. That’s something the team tried to make clear to Mitchell, according to sources.
It doesn’t really matter whether Gobert gave it to Mitchell or Mitchell gave it to Gobert – or neither. Gobert’s reckless actions made him more likely both to contract and spread coronavirus. Even if neither he nor Gobert got coronavirus, Mitchell would have reason to be upset with Gobert’s irresponsible behavior.
Of course, both players getting coronavirus heightened feelings. It’s easier to be results-oriented than process-oriented.
Yet, the rift apparently remains – which is quite concerning. What changes now? An apology and recovery were major potentially situation-altering events, and they weren’t sufficient.
Every relationship is salvageable. It might not seem that way in the heat of the moment, but it’s never too late. It’d probably help if Gobert and Mitchell met face-to-face. It’s easier to hold a grudge from a distance. That can’t happen for a while with most of the country in some form of lockdown, though.
There are also other deadlines in Utah.
Gobert and Mitchell will be eligible for contract extensions next offseason. Both are headed toward 2021 free agency. The Jazz hold far more control over Mitchell, who’d be a restricted free agent if unextended.
Before extension talks, Utah wants to make a deep playoff run this season. Mitchell and Gobert would be central to that, and disrupted chemistry between the team stars could be quite damaging.