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Ainge Talks Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert Trades: Jazz Didn't 'Believe in Each Other'

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 12, 2022

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Utah Jazz CEO Danny Ainge saw internal problems with the team before starting the rebuild this offseason.

"What I saw during the season was a group of players that really didn't believe in each other," Ainge told reporters Monday. "Like the whole group, I think they liked each other even more than what was reported. But I'm not sure there was a belief."

Ainge added that he gave the team the "benefit of the doubt" during the regular season, but the squad did not perform in the playoffs.

Utah has reached the postseason in six straight years but has never advanced beyond the second round. The 2021-22 squad lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.

The Jazz are now looking for a fresh start after trading away franchise cornerstones Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.

Ainge provided a different perspective for the organization, arriving in December as an alternate governor. He had previously been the general manager for the Boston Celtics, helping build the team that reached the NBA Finals this past season.

Though Ainge said he was "curious and optimistic" about the Jazz going into the job, it's clear he didn't think the squad could win a title as currently assembled.

With head coach Quinn Snyder stepping down after eight years with the team, there will be a lot of changes going into 2022-23.

The Jazz now have a long list of first-round picks over the next seven years, including three in 2023, as well as exciting young players like Collin Sexton, Talen Horton-Tucker, Ochai Agbaji and Walker Kessler.

The question is if they can develop on the court and create the right type of chemistry needed to create a winner.

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