Their coronavirus diagnoses clearly contributed to the problem. But issues had apparently been brewing for a while.
There have been rumblings well before either of them contracted coronavirus that the Jazz were growing weary of Gobert. Not that they were actively shopping him or trying to get rid of him, but that he might be more available than you’d think a Defensive Player of the Year and guy who is such an anchor would be. It will not surprise me if Utah moves on after this season.
Gobert is Utah’s best player. He also is four years older than Mitchell, plays a position (center) with the highest replacement level, has a style that doesn’t cleanly translate deep into the playoffs and is up for an expensive contract extension.
If forced to pick between the stars, the Jazz’s choice is clear. It’s Mitchell, who has shown special potential.
Of course, Utah would prefer to operate from a position of strength. That can only happen if its stars get on the same page. Otherwise, everyone assumes the Jazz must deal one – i.e., Gobert.