The Utah Jazz suffered an immensely disappointing end to an incredible season in the second round of this year's playoffs, losing in six games to a Los Angeles Clippers team that lost Kawhi Leonard halfway through the series. It is undoubtedly a failure, though nobody would claim it was the fault of lead man Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell proved once again he's a top-tier playoff performer, averaging 34.8 points per game against L.A. despite his nagging ankle injury.
But the Jazz couldn't get it done. Again. What's worse, they're pretty much locked into their roster as constructed for the foreseeable future because both Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are on massive contracts that hamstring the front office's ability to do anything more than fiddle with the fringes of the roster. Mitchell is obviously untouchable because he is the only true creator on the roster and has become one of the league's best scorers at only 24 years-old. That may not matter if Mitchell decides he wants out, and Brian Windhorst believes Dwyane Wade, who owns a small stake in the team, is concerned about that very possibility.
Windhorst discussed the recent shakeup in the Jazz front-office ranks with Royce Young and Kevin Pelton on today's edition of the Hoop Collective podcast. On Mitchell, Windhorst had this to say (at the 47:50 mark of the podcast):
"I do think that Dwyane Wade, who [owner Ryan Smith] brought in to be a co-owner but also be an advisor, I think Dwyane Wade is seriously concerned about Donovan Mitchell's desire to stay there long-term... Dwyane Wade is going to influence changes, and he's going to influence changes because the way Donovan Mitchell saw this season unfold, specifically how his ankle injury was handled in the playoffs, really unnerved him and he was in a bit of a rough spot with the franchise near the end of the year."
Not really want you want to hear if you're a Jazz fan! Mitchell's conflict with the team over his ankle injury was reported by Windhorst and Tim McMahon during the first-round series against the Grizzlies, but all seemed well and good after Mitchell got back out there and sent Memphis home. Those good feelings, of course, presumably only lasted until the Jazz themselves were ousted.
As Windhorst points out multiple times throughout that segment of the podcast, Mitchell will be in the first year of his max extension next season and this isn't a report suggesting he wants out already. But this is how it all starts. First we hear some rumblings about potential unhappiness, and then it gradually escalates until we have another Anthony Davis or Kawhi Leonard situation.
Then again, we just watched Giannis Antetokounmpo go through the very same rumor cycle before signing a gigantic deal with Milwaukee and suddenly any suggestions he may be headed elsewhere dried up. Between Mitchell's conflict with Gobert in 2020 and these new reports about clashes with the medical staff, there's admittedly a bit more smoke here than with Giannis and the Bucks, but nevertheless. We're still a ways away from hearing any real Mitchell trade rumors.
A good juicy tidbit from Windhorst, though.