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Even with some worry over a potential All-Star game, Rudy Gobert says he'd 'love to be part of it'

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, bottom, and Atlanta Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari, top, battle for the ball in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY β€” Utah's 112-91 win at Atlanta Thursday might not be the last time some Jazz players visit State Farm Arena this season.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are hoping to have a finalized agreement for an All-Star game on March 7 in Atlanta by next week, according to an ESPN report. It will be a single-night event that will encompass the All-Star game as well as the skills competitions.

The question is should it happen?

With the number of games being postponed due to COVID-19 contact tracing, there are concerns over bringing the league's top players together under one roof.

"If I'm going to be brutally honest, I think it's stupid," Kings guard De'Aaron Fox said following Sacramento's win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. "If we have to wear a mask and all this for a regular game, then what's the point of All-Star being back? Obviously, money makes the world go round, so it is what it is."

Lakers forward LeBron James offered a strong pushback to the idea of the game, saying, "I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star game this season." James stated he'd be "physically but not mentally" there.

It's not hard to imagine a nightmare scenario for the league when the top players are all exposed to the virus, leading them to all sit out multiple games; that wouldn't be great for business. But the league was able to pull off the NBA bubble without a positive test, so there's obviously confidence it can get through a one-night event, too.

According to a memo obtained by ESPN, the safety protocols are expected to include having players arrive on Saturday and leave on Sunday night under strict quarantine rules. It sure does sound like a celebration.

Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce even joked: "I'll be home. I hope they enjoy it."

Translation: "Have fun. I won't be participating." He did, however, use some time to campaign for Atlanta's Trae Young to get some extra All-Star votes.

The Jazz, meanwhile, could be heavily represented in the game. Donovan Mitchell is averaging 23 points, Rudy Gobert is averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds, while once again being a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, and Mike Conley has been a plus/minus darling (with plenty of metrics having him as a top 5 player this season).

"Obviously, it can be a good thing for the fans, for the game of basketball, for the finances," Gobert said about the potential All-Star game. "I think it's great for the game. At the same time, we're playing games in less time and it's the only break that players and coaches are gonna have. I mean, it's good to have that conversation, and I would love to be part of it, if I'm selected."

Mitchell was fifth among Western Conference guards in the first batch of fan voting, behind Golden State's Steph Curry, Dallas' Luka Doncic, Portland's Damian Lillard and Memphis' Ja Morant. He was the only Jazz player to appear on the top 10 lists released Thursday. So it's unlikely the Jazz will have a starter.

But with Utah currently having the best record in the league, Mitchell and Gobert both seem like locks to repeat as All-Stars this season. It also wouldn't be too surprising to see Conley, who has long been considered one of the better league guards in the NBA, get a strong push to make his first All-Star team.

Oh, and Jazz coach Quin Snyder might be heading to Atlanta, too. The coaches of the teams with the best records in the respective conferences are selected to coach in the All-Star game. And if you ask Pierce, the Jazz have a good chance of keeping up their current play.

"I think they're the best team we've played this year," the Hawks coach said. "And I say team strongly I think they're playing great as a unit. I think there's full conviction of their style of play because of the success they've had. … I'm not saying they're the best team in the NBA. I think that will be resolved at the end of the year. But I think they've played the best basketball this year, thus far."

Which means, some Jazz players, coaches and staff could be heading back to Atlanta next month.

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