Rudy Gobert

Jazz Stars Gobert, Mitchell Cleared Of Coronavirus

The Jazz issued a statement today announcing that all their players and staff have been cleared by the Utah Department of Health after completing their two-week self-isolation periods, as Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune relays.

“The Utah Department of Health has determined that all Jazz players and staff, regardless of prior testing status, no longer pose a risk of infection to others,” the team said in the statement.

That means that All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, who each tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month, have now been cleared, as Shams Charania of The Athletic confirms (via Twitter).

Gobert, Mitchell, and Pistons big man Christian Wood – the first three NBA players known to have been affected by COVID-19 – have now all been medically cleared and are no longer carrying the virus.

While we’re likely to see more coronavirus cases affecting NBA players and personnel in the coming weeks, it’s good news that several of those who were first diagnosed have come out the other side and made full recoveries.

Northwest Notes: Mitchell, Taylor, Sikka, Nuggets

The Jazz are hopeful that time will heal the fractured relationship between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, Tony Jones of The Athletic reports. This could be the biggest challenge for Jazz coach Quin Snyder and the front office in recent years, Jones continues, with Gobert having one year remaining on his contract and Mitchell potentially headed to restricted free agency after next season. Mitchell has been frustrated with Gobert for his careless actions prior to both testing positive for the coronavirus, Jones confirms.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor remains optimistic the league can resume the season, Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. “I’m really hopeful. I think we’re going to do it, if it’s at all possible,” Taylor said. “This is a health issue that we have no control over, but I think for our players and our fans, I would like to see us take a break and hopefully we can get back in 30 days and finish the season. I think the playoffs, they’re just so much fun and so important to our fans and our players.”
  • Timberwolves vice president of basketball performance and technology, Robby Sikka, was well ahead of the curve in terms of preparing the team for the coronavirus, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic details. Sikka warned players to wash their hands and to avoid close contact with ill people as far back as late January. Sikka was hired by president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas last summer to prioritize player health and wellness. He’s been integral in drawing up plans to help the organization get through the pandemic, including daily checks on the players.
  • The Nuggets need to acquire another impact player to become true contenders, Joel Rush of Forbes.com argues. They’d have to be willing to move Will Barton, Gary Harris or any bench player outside of Michael Porter Jr. this offseason to accomplish that goal, Rush adds.

Mitchell On Relationship With Gobert: “It Took Me A While To Cool Off”

Appearing on Good Morning America on Monday (hat tip to Scott Gleeson of USA Today), Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell essentially confirmed the reports that had suggested he was frustrated with teammate Rudy Gobert for the big man’s cavalier attitude toward the coronavirus before he tested positive.

“To be honest, it took a while for me to cool off.” Mitchell said when asked directly by host Robin Roberts about where things stood with Gobert (video link). “I read what he said and I heard what he said, so I’m glad he’s doing okay.”

[RELATED: Gobert Donates $500K To Arena Workers, Coronavirus-Related Services]

Although we don’t know with certainty whether Gobert or Mitchell contracted the virus first, or even whether one player got it from the other, the Jazz center faced criticism for not taking the threat seriously and touching others’ belongings at a media session and in the locker room last week.

Mitchell, who said he hasn’t exhibited any of the symptoms typically associated with COVID-19, expressed relief that he and Gobert were the only members of the Jazz to test positive. Following Gobert’s diagnosis, the team’s entire traveling party was tested for the virus. Mitchell was the only one of 58 Utah players and personnel whose test didn’t come back negative.

“I’m just really happy, to be honest – I hate to say that it’s just two of us – but that it wasn’t the whole party,” Mitchell said. “Neither (Gobert) or I have children at home. I know I have some teammates that have children, some staff have children at home. So I’m glad we were able to kind of contain it as much as possible.”

The All-Star guard, who told Roberts that he’s playing plenty of NBA 2K, watching movies, and watching his old highlights while he’s self-quarantined, will also be helping local students get healthy meals at no charge while schools are closed, per a press release from the Jazz.

Hiatus Notes: Gobert, Nets, Warriors, Obama

Jazz center Rudy Gobert addressed his supporters on Sunday by way of social media, discussing the coronavirus in a video posted to the NBA’s Twitter account.

Gobert, the first NBA player to contract the virus, was criticized by many for taking the illness too lightly last week. He was seen in a viral video intentionally touching microphones that belonged to the media, showing little regard for the severity of the matter.

“I’ve been feeling a little better every single day thanks to the healthcare people of Utah, Oklahoma City, and all the great people around me,” Gobert said.

Gobert wasn’t aware before Wednesday that he had contracted the illness, but his actions reportedly didn’t sit well with Jazz teammates and officials. Gobert recognized his mistakes and recently donated $500K to support employee relief funds at Vivint Smart Home Arena, along with coronavirus-related services in Utah, Oklahoma City, and France.

“I just want to make sure to remind you guys to keep washing your hands frequently with soap and water,” Gobert said. “Try to avoid touching your face, your nose, your eyes, and of course try to avoid making any unnecessary contact with people. It’s all about protecting yourself and the people around you.

“I wish I would’ve taken this thing more seriously, and I hope everyone else will do so — because we can do it together. Take care and stay safe.”

Here are some other notes related to the NBA’s hiatus:

  • The Nets were expected to be tested for coronavirus over the weekend, as relayed by Maggie Gray of WFAN (Twitter link). In addition, Brooklyn released a statement last week that specified Barclays Center and the team’s practice facility would be thoroughly cleaned.
  • The Warriors’ ownership, players and coaches have combined to contribute $1MM to disaster relief funds for employees of the Chase Center, the team announced on social media (Twitter link). “The men and women who work our games at Chase Center are critical in providing an incredible game-night experience for our fans, including of course, the popcorn vendors,” Stephen Curry said. “As players, we wanted to do something, along with our ownership and coaches, to help ease the pain during this time.”
  • Former president Barack Obama was among many to praise the NBA players who have donated money during this difficult time, writing the following on social media: “A shout out to Kevin [Love], Giannis [Antetokounmpo], Zion [Williamson], Blake [Griffin], Steph and all the players, owners and organizations who are setting a good example during a challenging time. A reminder that we’re a community, and that each of us has an obligation to look out for each other.”

Jazz Notes: Mitchell, Gobert, Coronavirus Tests

Stories have been circulating about a possible rift between Jazz teammates Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert after both players tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week. A source confirms to Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune that Mitchell is “frustrated” with Gobert’s irresponsible actions regarding the virus, but the organization believes the situation can be repaired.

Gobert has admitted to being “careless” in the days before a test confirmed that he had contracted COVID-19. However, even though Gobert was diagnosed first, Larsen points out that because symptoms of the virus aren’t always apparent right away, it’s possible that Gobert caught it from Mitchell or that both contracted it from someone else.

Larsen cites a report from ESPN’s Zach Lowe on his Lowe Post podcast expressing similar confidence that any hard feelings between the two players can be resolved. “My feeling from the Jazz and talking to people there is that I think once everyone takes a deep breath, that this will be okay,” said Lowe, adding that he saw several other players over the past two weeks who weren’t taking the virus seriously.

There’s more tonight from Utah:

  • Mitchell tweeted a video update on his condition today, thanking fans for their support and telling them that he’s doing well. “Just taking the proper precautions,” he said. “I’ve been told by the health authorities that I’ve got to stay in isolation. So I’m solo in here, playing video games all day. Can’t wait to get out there on the floor and play in front of the best fans in the world. I really miss playing in front of you guys.”
  • No special treatment was given to the Jazz when they received 58 coronavirus testing kits Wednesday night, an official from the Oklahoma State Department of Health tells Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The kits were available and the choice to test everyone with a connection to the team was “a public health decision” based on their contact with Gobert.
  • Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune writes about the experience of being quarantined in the wake of Gobert’s positive test. Walden was present at Monday’s media session and sent out a light-hearted tweet after Gobert touched every microphone and digital recorder in front of him.

Rudy Gobert Donates $500K To Arena Workers, Coronavirus-Related Services

All-Star Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the first NBA player to be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus COVID-19, has donated $500K to various groups impacted by the virus, per a team press release first relayed by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link).

Those groups include the 800-plus part-time employees at the club’s Vivint Smart Home Arena, in addition to coronavirus-related health service relief in Utah, Oklahoma City (where Gobert was diagnosed with the ailment) and social health care services in France, Gobert’s homeland.

“I know there are countless ways that people have been impacted,” Gobert said in the statement released by the Jazz. “These donations are a small token that reflect my appreciation and support for all those impacted and are the first of many steps I will take to try and make a positive difference.”

Per the press release, $200K of the gift will be donated to the part-time employees. Gobert will supply 100,000 Euros to the French health care system. $100K apiece will be allocated to families impacted in Utah and Oklahoma City.

Western Notes: Mitchell, Kerr, Anthony, Suns

Donovan Mitchell is “extremely frustrated” with Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert after testing positive for the coronavirus, league sources told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix. Gobert has apologized for his careless actions earlier in the week, prior to being the first NBA player to test positive. The team has a solid young core but how Mitchell responds when play resumes could make or break their relationship, Mannix continues. The Jazz were rising up the Western Conference standings but if this leads to locker room issues, it could have a major impact on the franchise’s playoff expectations, Mannix adds.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr is upset at himself for not taking the coronavirus more seriously earlier this week and believes social distancing is now paramount, Anthony Slater of The Athletic reports. “I was coaching in a basketball game with 15,000 fans like four nights ago. So I feel like a fool,” Kerr said. “But this goes back to our human condition of denial and vulnerability. But we’ve crossed that threshold now and it’s important that everybody understands what they can do.”
  • Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony said on teammate CJ McCollum‘s podcast that he was “embarrassed” that he was a free agent for so long until Portland signed him, according to Casey Holdahl of the team’s website. “I started questioning myself why. Why? What happened? What did I do? Did I do something wrong? Was it me? Am I good? Can I still play? It was like all of these thoughts started to come in and that stuck with me for about four, five months.”
  • The Suns could have all their injured players back in action if and when the season resumes, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic relays. That group includes forward Kelly Oubre Jr., who underwent knee surgery earlier this month, and Frank Kaminsky III, who missed the last 32 games due to a knee injury. “You try to make a positive out of a negative,” GM James Jones said. “It could end up being a really good thing for us and if that’s the case, I know our guys will be excited. I know our coaches, myself, I’ll be excited to have our team full strength or close to it, contending and playing in some meaningful games.”

Jazz Notes: Gobert, Coronavirus, Self-Quarantine

The NBA won’t be fining or suspending Jazz center Rudy Gobert for his actions leading up to his positive test for the coronavirus, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).

Gobert, who tested positive on Wednesday, made light of the coronavirus situation on Monday, when he made a point to touch all of the microphones and recorders in front of him following his shootaround availability.

According to a report from ESPN, Gobert also exhibited “a cavalier attitude toward the virus in the locker room, touching teammates and their belongings.” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added in a TV appearance that there’s “a lot of frustration” with Gobert in the Jazz locker room (hat tip to NBC Sports).

The All-Star center published an Instagram post on Thursday expressing embarrassment and apologizing for taking any actions that may have endangered those around him.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Although Gobert has faced plenty of criticism this week, Bruce Arthur of The Toronto Star argues that the Jazz center can be viewed as an “accidental hero,” since his actions and his positive diagnosis provided the NBA and North America at large with a prominent case study for why the virus should be taken seriously.
  • A pair of Jazz beat writers – Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune and Tony Jones of The Athletic – shared their accounts of what became a wild night in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Both reporters became part of the story due to their proximity to affected players Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, as they were among those tested for COVID-19 late on Wednesday in OKC. They both tested negative.
  • As we relayed on Thursday, 58 members of Utah’s traveling party were tested for coronavirus on Wednesday, including Walden and Jones. Of those 58, only Mitchell tested positive (Gobert’s test was conducted earlier). Still, the players who tested negative have been instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days, as the team announced in a press release.

Rudy Gobert Apologizes To “People I May Have Endangered”

Rudy Gobert, who became the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, has published an Instagram post confirming the diagnosis.

Within the post, Gobert apologized for his carelessness in potentially endangering those around him. The All-Star Jazz center mockingly touched all the microphones and recorders in front of him following a Monday media session. According to a report from ESPN, Jazz players were also privately saying that Gobert exhibited “a cavalier attitude toward the virus in the locker room, touching teammates and their belongings.”

“I have gone through so many emotions since learning of my diagnosis,” Gobert wrote. “Mostly fear, anxiety, and embarrassment. The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered. At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse.

“I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously,” he continued. “I will do whatever I can to support using my experience as way to educate others and prevent the spread of this virus.”

Sources told Shams Charania and Tony Jones of The Athletic that Gobert has been around people who recently traveled to the U.S. from France, but there’s “no clear determination” on how or when he contracted COVID-19. His teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for the virus, as we detailed earlier today.

League Office “Slammed” With Questions About Next Steps

After announcing that the 2019/20 season has been suspended indefinitely, the NBA’s league office has been “slammed” with procedural and “bigger-picture” questions from team owners and executives, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski reports, the NBA has told its teams to be patient and sit tight for now — more guidance will be provided soon, likely as early as Thursday. In the meantime, despite the fact that clubs are reportedly still permitted to hold practices, many teams around the league plan to close their facilities today and give players a couple days away, Woj notes.

The Jazz, whose starting center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, have been among the teams most significantly affected by the crisis. As ESPN’s Royce Young details, Utah’s players and staff had to remain at Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena for hours after the postponement of last night’s game vs. the Thunder, undergoing tests for coronavirus. The results of those tests should be known soon, which will help the NBA determine how to move forward, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com.

After finally leaving the arena late last night, the Jazz spent the night in the OKC area, exploring the possibility of chartering buses to get back to Salt Lake City, since there were “issues” with putting everyone on a Delta charter flight, per ESPN. According to Young (Twitter link), the organization is expected to finalize travel plans after getting the results of their tests. It’s possible they’ll fly back to Utah on two separate charter flights — one for those who tested positive and one for those who didn’t.

Here are more updates on the situation as the first day of the league’s hiatus begins:

  • Sources tell Shams Charania and Tony Jones of The Athletic that Gobert has been around people who recently traveled to the U.S. from France, but there’s “no clear determination” on how he contracted COVID-19.
  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps break down what we do and don’t know about the NBA’s suspension of play, including whether players will be paid during the stoppage and how it may affect the salary cap going forward. Meanwhile, Brian Lewis of The New York Post provides six questions the league must answer.
  • By suspending its season, the NBA made the only decision it could, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com, who writes that the league shouldn’t consider a return until the virus has been “contained nationally.”
  • The Pelicans/Kings game on Wednesday night was initially expected to be played even after the NBA’s suspension announcement, but it was eventually postponed due to concerns related to referee Courtney Kirkland, who worked Utah’s game on Monday. Sam Amick, Will Guillory, and Jason Jones of The Athletic share some behind-the-scenes details on a surreal night in Sacramento.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who said on Wednesday night that the franchise would develop a plan to help arena employees with lost income during the hiatus, said that the situation “isn’t about basketball,” as Tim MacMahon of ESPN relays. “This isn’t about when do we start, do we start? Or how do we start? This is a pandemic, a global pandemic where people’s lives are at stake,” Cuban said. “I’m a lot more worried about my kids and my mom who is 82 years old — in talking to her and telling her to stay in the house — than when we play in our next game.”