SALT LAKE CITY — NBA All-Star Weekend seems like its light years away.
Heck, the 2018-19 NBA preseason games haven’t even started yet.
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is certainly focused on reaching new heights in his sophomore campaign, but the rising star hasn’t decided on whether or not he’ll be defending his slam dunk title.
“I don’t know … that’s a good question,” Mitchell said during Monday’s Utah Jazz Media Day. “I don’t know, we’ll see. I’ll leave it there.”
All-Star Weekend 2019 will be played in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 15-17.
As a rookie, Mitchell reached a new level of popularity after winning the slam dunk crown at Los Angeles’ Staples Center as a late addition.
Mitchell was added after Orlando Magic star Aaron Gordon withdrew from the contest with a strained left hip flexor. He actually learned the news while chilling in New Orleans on Super Bowl Sunday.
He beat out Dallas’ Dennis Smith Jr., Los Angeles’ Larry Nance Jr. and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo to bring home the title, even paying homage to former Jazz star Darrell Griffith and Raptors legend Vince Carter in the process.
Smith already confirmed that he wouldn’t be participating this year.
“I’m not doing the dunk contest this year,” Smith told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon during Dallas’ annual Media Day on Friday. “… the gimmicks and everything that go with it, I’m not with it.”
Mitchell’s dunk coach Chuck Millan helped him develop the routine for the spectacular performance, which included a cameo from comedian Kevin Hart and his younger sister, Jordan.
Mitchell became the first Jazzman to win the dunk contest since Jeremy Evans in 2012, but his rookie teammate Grayson Allen said he’s also open to competing.
“Yeah, definitely I would participate if I got picked for that,” Allen told the Deseret News.
Allen was selected 21st overall by the Jazz in this year’s draft. The former Duke star possesses a 40.5-inch max vertical leap and Millan actually believes Allen is a better routine dunker than the reigning champion.
“He’s a better contest dunker than Donovan is,” Millan said. “Donovan’s my guy but Grayson’s more of a contest dude. He’s been in a lot of these and I think he’s pretty much won every one he’s been in, to be honest.
“He can go off one foot and two feet so he can do a lot more than most people can so his repertoire is a lot bigger.”
Although it’s unlikely the next set of slam dunk contest participants will be announced until early 2019, Mitchell says he doesn’t believe Smith is serious about sitting out.
“I think Dennis (Smith) was lying when he says he wasn’t going to do it,” Mitchell said, smiling. “Ain’t no way.”