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Rudy Gobert Responds to Rumor He or Donovan Mitchell Will Demand Trade from Jazz

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 2, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 8: Donovan Mitchell #45 talks to Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz during the game against the Phoenix Suns on April 8, 2022 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert would seemingly prefer NBA fans not to believe everything they read.

Sean O'Connell of SiriusXM reported Monday that Gobert "is at 'him or me' point with Donovan Mitchell and will demand that one of them be traded." O'Connell reported Gobert does not think the pairing can win a championship, is concerned with Mitchell's defense and knows at least one Western Conference contender would "pay handsomely" if he left Utah.

Yet the man himself didn't seem too impressed with the rumor.

Rudy Gobert @rudygobert27

Everyday has it’s own new β€œrumor” πŸ™„

While Gobert was dismissive, the idea of internal tension and a clear limit on championship potential for the Jazz is far from new.

Even after the big man's winning dunk in Game 4 of Utah's first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks, TNT's Matt Winer prompted an interview question with "there's a lot of talk about what this team can and can't be in the postseason."

Gobert was fined $25,000 because he replied "f--k the talk."

The momentum from that win was short-lived, as the Mavericks won the next two games to advance to the second round. It was another playoff failure for the Jazz, who fell behind 2-1 in the series even though Luka Doncic missed the first three games. They also blew a 2-0 lead to a Los Angeles Clippers squad that didn't have Kawhi Leonard for the whole series in the second round last year.

Mitchell and other perimeter defenders struggled to stay in front of Jalen Brunson and Doncic in the most recent postseason loss, bringing the defensive concerns back into focus.

In January, some interpreted Gobert's comments as taking a shot at Mitchell's lack of development on that side of the ball when compared to his peers.

"When I watch some of these other teams like the Suns or the Warriors, those guys are a step ahead of us in terms of winning habits," Gobert told reporters. "They take every game personally. Devin Booker is playing his ass off defensively. I've been watching him compared to two years ago.

"Guys like that, they buy in. You can tell they take pride in playing defense, stopping their man, doing whatever they can defensively to stop the other team and be a part of a winning culture. I think we're not there yet, but I think we're gonna get there."

Mitchell responded by saying, "We all as a group hold each other accountable. That's his way, I guess. I'm not too concerned about it. His just happened this way. Cool."

In February, ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Tim MacMahon discussed the apparent tension within the team as well during an episode of The Hoop Collective podcast (via RealGM).

"Gobert and Mitchell have been at each other's...I don't know if I can say at each other's throats," Windhorst said.

MacMahon replied: "It's back to being passively aggressively awkward."

"It's the most underplayed story in the league, I think," Windhorst said. "The Jazz are struggling a lot. This team had big expectations and they're getting passed by frankly. They are not on the level they were a year ago. Donovan and Gobert, even though they're both under long-term contract, are under each other's skin. There's all kind of subtweeting and passive-aggressive stuff going on."

Mitchell and Gobert are both under contract through the 2024-25 campaign with player options for the following season, so an offseason trade may be the only answer if the situation truly is untenable.