The NBA's decision to suspend the 2019-20 season back in March was due to Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for COVID-19. Shortly after, Donovan Mitchell also tested positive, and that sequence of events set off a tense period for the two stars in Salt Lake City.
Months later, and with the Jazz about to travel to Orlando for the resumption of the season, Mitchell says things between him and Gobert are much better. During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Mitchell addressed the rift in their relationship and admitted it was "no secret" that the problems started with Gobert's reckless attitude and behavior in the spring. Via ESPN:
"Right now we're good. We're going out there ready to hoop. And I think the biggest thing that kind of sucked was that it took away from the guys on the team, took away from what the guys on the team were trying to do and I really wish that as going forward.
I think that'll be really a part of the focus is just us gelling as a team because obviously, Rudy and I had COVID and whatever happened, happened, but now we're ready to hoop and focused on the team as a whole because we're not really trying to keep taking attention away from what everybody's got going on. Obviously, we've got Bojan (Bogdanovic) out so we've got some guys that are really looking good and ready to step up and that's what we're really excited about."
Prior to testing positive for the coronavirus, Gobert made headlines for his carelessness, as he made a point to touch every single microphone during a media session. Even acknowledging that we're more knowledgeable about the virus and preventative measures a few months later, Gobert was certainly informed enough at that point to know he should not have been doing that.
While it's impossible to know if that incident was involved in Gobert contracting or passing along the virus, or if he was the one who gave it to Mitchell, it's easy to see how the young point guard was frustrated with his frontcourt partner. Thankfully both of them have recovered, but Gobert was putting people at risk by acting recklessly.
Back in May, Jazz VP Dennis Lindsey said the two were "ready to put this behind them," and now we have confirmation from Mitchell himself. While Mitchell's comments -- "right now we're good" -- aren't exactly a ringing endorsement of their relationship, it seems they've salvaged things enough to where they can go out and play together.
And while health and safety is obviously still the key concern heading into Orlando, that's great news for the Jazz from a basketball standpoint. With Bojan Bogdanovic out for the season, they'll need Mitchell and Gobert operating at a high level if they want to make some noise in a loaded Western Conference.