Windhorst: Donovan Mitchell's Relationship with Jazz 'Damaged' After Being Held Out

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 25, 2021

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell warms up before the start of their NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell's relationship with the Utah Jazz is reportedly in a bad place after the team decided to hold him out of Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies.

On Tuesday's episode of Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective, ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst said the following about where Mitchell and the Jazz stand (beginning at the 16:05 mark):

"I will tell you this, Donovan's relationship with the organization was damaged this week. Is it damaged to the point where it can't be repaired? I'm not saying that. Is it something that they'll get past and he will just move on and it'll be just a blip on the radar screen? Maybe. Maybe they're in the Finals in two months and who cares? Maybe they win the next four games and it's totally forgotten, OK. But right now, Donovan is hurting. He's really hurting the way this happened."

Windhorst's comments came on the heels of Mitchell saying Monday that he was "definitely frustrated and upset" by the team's decision to make him a late scratch before Game 1 due to an ankle injury.

Utah, which posted the NBA's best record this season, went on to lose Game 1 by a score of 112-109 without Mitchell in the lineup.

Per Windhorst and ESPN's Tim MacMahon, Mitchell has been out since April 16 with the injury and began rehabbing with his own personal training staff after the early stages of his recovery moved slowly.

Mitchell said he felt he was "ready to go" for Game 1 and expressed his belief that he "should have played."

The 24-year-old Mitchell added that his frustration and anger stemmed from feeling like he let his teammates down, although it was ultimately the Jazz's medical staff that had the final say.

Mitchell has progressively gotten better for the Jazz since his rookie season in 2017-18.

He has been named an All-Star in each of the past two seasons and set new career highs this season with 26.4 points, 5.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.

Thanks to Mitchell, center Rudy Gobert and a remarkable amount of depth across the board, the Jazz went 52-20 this season, and their .722 winning percentage was their best since going 37-13 in 1998-99.

As referenced by Windhorst, Mitchell and the Jazz could potentially get back on the same page quickly if they go on to win the first-round series against Memphis, but if they lose, there may be a ton of second guessing regarding the medical staff's decision.

Per Spotrac, Mitchell signed a five-year, $163 million contract extension with the Jazz last year, meaning he is under contract through at least the 2024-25 season and has a player option for 2025-26.

Because of that, the Jazz would be under no pressure or obligation to trade Mitchell even if he is disgruntled with the organization.

That means it would behoove both sides to hash things out and come to an understanding, as all signs point to them working together for many years to come.