LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 17: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz dunks over Kevin Hart and crew during the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest during State Farm All-Star Saturday Night as part of the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 17, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Donovan Mitchell says he won't participate in this year's Slam Dunk Contest

by Aaron Falk

The NBA’s reigning dunk champ won’t defend his crown.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell says he will not participate in this year’s Slam Dunk Contest at the NBA’s All-Star Weekend in Charlotte so that he can be rested for his team’s playoff push.

“It really stemmed from the three different times I got hurt this year,” Mitchell said Friday. “I remember last year when I came back from All-Star, I was tired. I was tired. Fortunately, we had some days when I could rest. I wouldn’t go to the gym. I would just sleep.”

The Jazz are currently 25-21 after a slow start to the season and Mitchell said he wants to be ready for the second half.

“For me, it’s tough because it’s my favorite event in the entire weekend,” he said. “But I just wanted to be ready mentally and physically for my team. Obviously, with the year we’ve had, we haven’t really taken off from the beginning like we thought we would. So we need this second half of the season. For me and my teammates, I think it would be better if I were to rest and be mentally focused for the second half.”

Mitchell won the Slam Dunk Contest as a rookie last season. And while he won’t participate this year, he said he would be open to an invitation in the future.

“Definitely,” he said. “I would love to do it again for sure. But I think now, with everything that’s happened this past season, I just wanted to experience an All-Star without doing it and see how I feel and compare the two. It’s all a learning experience for me.”