The Utah Jazz took the NBA world by surprise when they decided to break up their superstar duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert this summer. Now that it has actually happened, we are able to realize that this was actually a long time coming. Even Mitchell himself, who recently made the blockbuster move to the Cleveland Cavaliers, admits that there was one specific incident two years ago that may have precipitated the overhaul.
Speaking on a recent episode of The Woj Pod, Mitchell revealed how a seemingly innocuous eight-second violation in the Jazz’s first game in the 2020 NBA Playoffs may have been a foreboding of what was to come a couple of years later (h/t Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS):
“Not to say we go ahead and win a championship … but that, for me, was huge when we lost,” Mitchell said. “If I don’t take my sweet time walking the ball up the floor and we win that game, what does that look like? What does the next season look like? What does the next season look like? There’s always those ifs, ands, and buts you can play.”
Here’s that particular play in question:
Mitchell committed a key turnover late in that game but to be fair, this wasn’t exactly the final straw for the Jazz in that contest. Utah was able to force overtime, but they eventually fell to Nikola Jokic and Co. to concede a 0-1 lead in their opening-round series. The Nuggets would go on to win the series in seven games.
As Donovan Mitchell said, it’s not as if that turnover cost them a title. However, it was a major what-if moment for them — one that may have led to the organization deciding to pull the plug on its superstar core some two years later.