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Donovan Mitchell disagreed with Danny Ainge’s assessment of this Utah Jazz didn’t have confidence in one another last season.
“I don’t believe we didn’t believe [in each other],” Mitchell told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “I said by the end of the growing season, don’t trade [Rudy Gobert]. Let’s figure this out, let’s do. And that didn’t happen. For him to state that after half a year round the team, I disagree. Nevertheless, you know, by the end of your day, that’s his decision.”
Utah traded Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier this offseason before sending Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Ainge, who took over because the team’s CEO last December, provided a brutal assessment of the squad as previously assembled.
“What I saw through the season was several players that basically didn’t have confidence in one another,” Ainge told reporters Monday. “Just like the whole group, I believe they liked one another a lot more than that which was reported. But I’m uncertain there is a belief.”
Mitchell and Gobert spent five years together in Utah, helping the squad reach the playoffs in each season. Both players earned All-Star selections in each one of the last 3 years.
After leading the team to the Western Conference semifinals in 2018, the squad was struggling to build off the success with just one single more playoff series win within the next four years. The team lost in the initial round last season to the Dallas Mavericks in six games.
“It had been clear if you ask me the team didn’t succeed in the playoffs again,” Ainge said.
This is enough for Ainge to inflate the roster, dealing away both best players while also trading veterans Royce O’Neal and Patrick Beverley.
Mitchell believes the Jazz were sufficient to win, but he’ll instead get yourself a new opportunity having an exciting roster in Cleveland.
“I was truly excited when I acquired traded [to the Cavs],” Mitchell said Wednesday.
Utah, meanwhile, may have an extended rebuild you start with three first-round picks in 2023.