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SALT LAKE CITY — Coach Quin Snyder had a pretty easy explanation of why the Jazz, who have been the NBA's No. 1 offense through much of the season, have suddenly struggled to score the ball.
"Rudy's pretty good, and Donovan's pretty good," Snyder said.
That would be Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, who have both missed time over the last 12 games.
Gobert was out five games with COVID-19. Then Mitchell went out with a concussion and missed the last five contests. Then Gobert strained his left calf and missed the last two games.
The Jazz haven't had one of their top players in two of the last 12 games. They've posted a 3-9 record in those games, including dropping the last three games.
Here's what we know about their status — plus an update on Danuel House's contract.
Here's some good news: Mitchell could be back as soon as this weekend.
The All-Star guard is progressing well from the blow to the head he sustained in the first half of Utah's Jan. 17 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He didn't exhibit any symptoms immediately, but the next day was diagnosed with a concussion and put in protocols. The Jazz have gone 1-4 in the five games he's missed.
While he hasn't yet cleared protocols yet, there is a possibility that he could play in Utah's upcoming road trip. The Jazz will play in Memphis on Friday and in Minnesota on Sunday.
The Jazz have had the seventh worst offense in the NBA in the five games Mitchell has missed.
The Jazz are choosing to be conservative with the left calf strain that Gobert sustained in Utah's loss to Golden State Sunday. Gobert described it as feeling like a "slow tear" that caused him to miss the final two-plus minutes of that contest.
He said then he didn't think it was too serious but wanted to be cautious. His initial diagnosis turned out to be pretty accurate.
Gobert sat out both of Utah's games against Phoenix — both losses — and will likely miss several more as he heals. That doesn't mean it's a serious injury; just that the Jazz recognize the dicey nature of strains and don't want it to be a lasting problem.
When it comes to strains, the team believes it's about as mild as it could be. With that being the case, the Jazz have designated him as day-to-day; however, that's just the admittance that he could potentially be ready to play after some quick rest and rehab, or it could be longer.
Regardless, the Jazz see it as a distinct possibility that the big man could return before the All-Star break in February.
Patience will be key, of course — something that may be hard to have after seeing Utah's defense often fall apart without Gobert in the lineup.
House's second 10-day contract is up on Thursday, and it remains to be seen if the Jazz will bring him back. There's some things working in House's favor, though.
He has impressed the team, especially in his performance against the Suns Monday, which drew praises from Snyder.
The Jazz don't yet have to decide if they want to keep him for the rest of the season. Usually, players are only allowed to sign two 10-day contracts with a team, but this year the rules are a little different.
Teams are allowed to sign players to "hardship" 10-day deals to help fill roster spots due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Such "hardship" contracts don't count toward the regular 10-day deals. House's first deal with the team was of this variety, meaning the Jazz can still sign him to a second regular 10-day contract. That decision will come Thursday.