SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. — “Definitely frustrated and upset.”
Those were the words Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell used to describe how he felt about the last minute decision to scratch him ahead of Game 1 against the Grizzlies this past Sunday. Mitchell has been sidelined since mid-April when he sprained his ankle.
Ahead of the game, Mitchell practiced for three consecutive days, and he and his teammates were under the impression that he would be available to play against the Grizzlies on Sunday. But at the last minute, Mitchell, who wasn’t on the injury report the day before, was ruled out, which caused a lot of confusion and caught Mitchell and his teammates off-guard.
Reports out of Utah stated to circulate that tensions were growing between Utah and Mitchell regarding his recovery process.
Utah’s decision to not play their franchise player, and Mitchell’s decision to take things to social media to voice his displeasure with his team made things complicated and was amplified when the Grizzlies upset the Jazz.
“I think every side could’ve done this a little bit better,” said Tony Jones of The Athletic. “I think, if you’re going to rule Donovan out, you know, rule him out sometime before four hours before the game. If you’re Donovan Mitchell, go and have a conversation behind closed doors. Don’t take it to IG don’t take it to Twitter.”
Jones is a staff writer for The Athletic and have covered the Utah Jazz for years. In a detailed piece, Jones wrote about the frustrations Mitchell had with his team holding him out in Game 1. Jones said to WREG-TV the entire ordeal could’ve been avoided, if the two parties communicated with one another.
Jones mentioned the game plan would’ve been fine with or without Mitchell in Game 1 because the team has been playing without their star player roughly a month now. But, he said Mitchell and his teammates thought he would be available and that last minute decision to not play him did impact their play against Memphis.
Nevertheless, Jones said he doesn’t think this issue will be “lingering” situation. But he added it could spill into the offseason if the Jazz don’t turn things around against the Grizzlies, sooner rather than later.
“Well, winning cures everything,” Jones said. “If the Jazz go out and win this series, likely this will be forgotten. But, if they go out and they struggle or if they lose the series, then this is going to be something that’s going to be talked about and frankly it’s going to be a storyline into the offseason.”
Jones said the Jazz needs to figure things out and move on. And it seems like they are doing just that. It was announced that Mitchell is cleared and will play against the Grizzlies on Wednesday night in Game 2.
“The biggest thing for us is moving forward. We lost Game 1, and we’ve got s— to handle. Excuse my language, we’ve got s— to handle moving forward,” Mitchell said to reporters.
Mitchell and the Jazz will play host to the Grizzlies at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.