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Mitchell won’t defend Slam Dunk contest title


Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has declined to defend his NBA Slam Dunk contest title in Charlotte Feb. 16 as he focuses his attention on a playoff run.

“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 said, according to Deseret News’ Eric Woodyard. “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.”

There’s still a good chance Mitchell represents Team USA in the Rising Stars game on Feb. 15.

Mitchell defeated Larry Nance Jr., Dennis Smith Jr., and Victor Oladipo last year with four high-scoring dunks, totaling 98 points in the first and second rounds.

The 22-year-old has caught fire of late after a slower start to the year, averaging 29.7 points and 5.1 assists in his last seven while leading Utah to six victories over that span.



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Report: Grizzlies owner met with Gasol, Conley to discuss state of team


With the trade deadline looming and the Memphis Grizzlies in free fall, team owner Robert Pera met with franchise cornerstones Marc Gasol and Mike Conley earlier this week to discuss the club’s trajectory, league sources told The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Pera has regularly met with significant members of the organization in the past, according to Charania. Whether this most recent interaction foreshadows a departure for either of the team’s star veterans ahead of the Feb. 7 deadline remains to be seen.

Both Conley and Gasol have played their entire decade-plus NBA careers in Memphis. While both remain productive, the 19-25 Grizzlies currently occupy the 14th seed in the Western Conference and have lost 14 of their last 17 games.

Gasol has averaged 15.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game through 44 appearances but will turn 34 later this month. The three-time All-Star and 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year is owed $24.1 million this year with a player option worth $25.6 million for 2019-20.

Though never an All-Star, Conley is enjoying one of his most productive seasons ever, complementing his 19.9 points per game with 6.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals while shooting 35.3 percent on 3-point attempts.

Conley, 31, is younger than Gasol but has a considerably larger cap hit over a longer period of time. The point guard is on the books for $30.5 million this season, $32.5 million in 2019-20, and has a player option worth $34.5 million in 2020-21.



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