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Utah Jazz's Donovan Mitchell won’t defend NBA Slam Dunk title

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell broke into the national spotlight during NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles last year after winning the Slam Dunk contest.

However, the second-year guard won’t be defending his crown at NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte this February at the Spectrum Center.

Although he isn’t competing in the dunk contest, Deseret News sources say he hasn’t ruled out the Rising Stars Game on Friday, Feb. 15.

“I loved doing the dunk contest last year and it was a ton of fun, but I also know it takes a lot of focus, practice and preparation,” Mitchell told the Deseret News. “Right now, my mind is really on helping my team make a deep run (in the) second half of the season. I’m excited though for the weekend, I’m going to be able to be a part of some great events.”

As a rookie, Mitchell became the first Utah player to win the title since Jeremy Evans in 2012 and just the seventh Jazzman to ever participate in the dunk contest.

He paid homage his mentor and former Jazz great Darrell Griffith plus Vince Carter, while breaking out their vintage jerseys for props, and even included comedian Kevin Hart as part of his his routine in Los Angeles.

NBA All-Star Weekend 2019 is set for Feb. 15-17 in Charlotte.

All-Star voting concludes on Monday, Jan. 21 before starters and captains are revealed on Jan. 24 then the reserves are announced on Jan. 31 on TNT.

Mitchell was named Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday for the first time of his career after averaging 31.5 points, 5.8 assists, 4.3 rebounds on 48.4 percent from the field and 48.6 percent from three-point range for games played from Jan 7-13.

The former Louisville star called the decision “tough” to not defend his Slam Dunk title in Charlotte, because it is his favorite event of the All-Star Weekend, but said he was really tired after last year and struggled to catch up on rest. He won’t rule out a return down the line, though.

“Definitely. I would love to do it again for sure,” Mitchell said. “I think now especially with everything that happened this past season, I think for me I just wanted to experience an All-Star without doing it to see how it feels and kind of compare the two.

“It’s all a learning experience for me.”

Utah is 7-1 over their last eight games entering tonight’s home contest against Cleveland.