Ainge says Utah Jazz side did not believe in each other

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Utah Jazz CEO Danny Ainge says the side lacked resolve and did not believe in each other last season leading to their first-round playoffs exit.

Former Phoenix Suns player and head coach Ainge stepped into the Jazz role in January, after the side had the best record (52-20) in the Western Conference in 2020-21.

But the Jazz bowed out of the 2021-22 playoffs at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, after a 49-33 season.

Key players including Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have since left, along with head coach Quin Snyder who resigned in June, marking a period of change for Utah.

"What I saw during the season was a group of players that really didn't believe in each other," Ainge told reporters on Monday. "Like the whole group, I think they liked each other even more than what was reported, but I'm not sure there was a belief.

"When we got to the playoffs I thought, well this is a team that has had some disappointing playoffs so I thought maybe they're just waiting for the playoffs. I gave them that benefit of the doubt, but it was clear the team didn't perform well in the playoffs again.

"I believe every one of these guys went into every game believing they were going to win, don't get me wrong on that. I'm just saying when adversity hit, the resolve, you could see in a team that has a true belief in having each other's back or one another.

"I think individually they have resolve, but I just don't believe collectively they did. So you see a lot of players trying to do it on their own as the believe in one another wasn't as great as teams I've been on and around that I've seen."

Jazz general manager Justin Zanik claimed that the side's offseason changes, trading out All-Stars Gobert and Mitchell, was about opening up another window to challenge for an NBA title. Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton and Ochai Agbaji all joined the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the Mitchell trade.

"You have these conversations and there's a return and you start balancing what you can acquire on the market for perennial All-Star players, and we traded two of them this summer, that necessitates us to make a decision for the organisation that is hard," Zanik said.

"We've got really good players, but you have a timeline you want to open up with a maximum window.

"Previous results kind of told us who we were. It wasn't just a one-year thing. This was a good three-year period where we won a lot of games and had a lot of success, but we were tapped out from a potential stand point and we needed to reset that."