Thursday, December 8 2022

The Utah Jazz shook things up in a major way over the offseason as they traded away All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in order to kickstart a rebuild. While speaking with media members this week, Jazz CEO Danny Ainge provided some insight into why those moves were made, and explained that a lack of internal belief among the players was a major factor, as was a lack of collective resolve. 

“What I saw during the season was a group of players that really didn’t believe in each other,” Ainge said, via ESPN. “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.

“When we got to the playoffs I thought, well this is a team that has had some disappointing playoffs, so I thought maybe they’re just waiting for the playoffs. I gave them that benefit of the doubt, but it was clear the team didn’t perform well in the playoffs again.”

Despite making it to the playoffs in each of the past six seasons, the Jazz were unable to advance past the second round in any of those campaigns. They lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the first round last season, and that indicated to Ainge that it was probably time for a change. 

“Like I believe every one of these guys went into every game believing they were going to win, don’t get me wrong on that,” Ainge added. “I’m just saying when adversity hit, the resolve, you could see in a team that has a true belief in having each other’s back or one another.

“I think individually they have resolve, but I just don’t believe collectively they did. So you see a lot of players trying to do it on their own as the believe in one another wasn’t as great as teams I’ve been on and around that I’ve seen.”

Gobert was the first to be traded, as the three-time Defensive Player of the Year was moved to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a plethora of picks in July, while Mitchell was relocated to Cleveland at the beginning of September. Now the Jazz will have an opportunity to start fresh and build back into a contender in the competitive Western Conference. Plus, with several veterans like Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic still on the roster there’s a good chance that the Jazz aren’t done dealing. 

As a result of their moves, the Jazz probably won’t be in the thick of the playoff picture like they have for the past six seasons in the coming campaign. But, sometimes you have to take a step backward in order to ultimately move forward, and that’s clearly the approach currently being taken in Utah. 



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