Donovan Mitchell sat out the Utah Jazz’s 112-109 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of their playoff series on Sunday evening.
The announcement that he would be missing the outing came right before tip-off and genuinely shocked a lot of fans.
One other group that was pretty shocked by the move?
“It was a big surprise,” Rudy Gobert said after the fact, per Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune. “But I try to stay out of all this — it’s just gonna give me a headache. … When you wake up from a nap and find out your star player isn’t going to play, it throws you off a little bit.”
Gobert wasn’t alone.
“Of course we missed him, especially in the playoffs,” Bojan Bogdanovic told Walden. “I don’t know what happened, honestly, with the medical staff and him, to hold him out. You should ask him.”
So what did happen?
According to ESPN NBA insiders Brian Windhorst and Tim MacMahon, Jazz officials held Mitchell out against his will as a precaution.
“Mitchell was incensed at the late decision to scratch him from Sunday’s playoff opener, and it deepened tensions with the team regarding his recovery from a right ankle sprain,” they reported on Monday morning.
Mitchell has not played since April 16. The hope is that he will ultimately be cleared to play in Wednesday’s Game 2, but obviously everything is up in the air at this point.
That’s one way to get over a loss. https://t.co/17jpFpu2Ej
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 23, 2021
Generally speaking there is usually a little more cohesion when it comes to the expectations and messaging of star players’ injuries, but this isn’t the first time in recent memory that parties have diverged on how to handle a situation of this nature. Just a few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Lakers handled LeBron James’ ankle issues in similarly clumsy fashion.
Obviously if Mitchell returns to action on Wednesday, the Jazz win Game 2, and then they go on to take the series – all of this will be forgotten.
However, if things go in the other direction, this particular situation will face renewed scrutiny in the coming months.
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