Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell Enters Concussion Protocol

All-Star Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol, per Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune adds (via Twitter) that the Jazz think Mitchell suffered the concussion in the first half of the team’s 101-95 Lakers loss on Monday. Walden reports that the 6’1″ guard began dealing with symptoms following the game last night.

Mitchell, 25, is enjoying yet another All-NBA caliber season. Through 40 games, he is averaging 25.5 PPG, 5.2 APG and 4.0 RPG, with shooting splits of .450/.339/.876.

The Jazz, led by Mitchell, Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert, and veteran point guard Mike Conley, currently occupy the fourth seed in the Western Conference with a 29-15 record.

Joel Embiid, Donovan Mitchell Named Players Of The Month

Sixers big man Joel Embiid has been named December’s Player of the Month for the Eastern Conference, while Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has earned the honor for the Western Conference, the NBA announced today (via Twitter).

It was a healthy month for Embiid, who appeared in all but one of Philadelphia’s 14 games in December and led the team to an 8-5 record in those contests — the 76ers were blown out by 35 points in the only game he missed. The star center averaged 29.2 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 1.3 BPG on .496/.391/.845 shooting in 34.5 minutes per game for the month.

Mitchell, meanwhile, appeared in 12 of Utah’s 14 December games, putting up 30.2 PPG, 5.0 APG, 3.2 RPG, and 1.2 SPG with a shooting line of .502/.377/.870 in 34.2 minutes per night. The Jazz had a 12-2 month, including 10-2 in games with Mitchell available.

Embiid beat out fellow nominees Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Durant, Darius Garland, Kyle Lowry, and Fred VanVleet in the East. The other Western nominees were Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Twitter link).

The NBA also announced the Rookies of the Month for December today, with Magic forward Franz Wagner and Thunder guard Josh Giddey earning the honors in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference, respectively.

Wagner’s Magic went just 3-11 in December, but he solidified his position as a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate, averaging 19.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 3.1 APG on .476/.404/.889 shooting in 34.0 MPG. Giddey, who won his second straight Rookie of the Month award, missed five games, including the Thunder’s 73-point loss to Memphis. In the 10 games he played, Oklahoma City went 6-4 and he averaged 11.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 6.7 APG.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Mitchell, Nuggets, Jokic

Three Timberwolves players took advantage of their expanded roles in the team’s game against the Jazz on Thursday, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune writes. Malik Beasley, Jaden McDaniels and Jake Layman all gave a solid effort, but the team still lost 128-116 without Karl-Anthony Towns or Anthony Edwards available.

Beasley finished with 33 points on 13-of-25 shooting, while McDaniels (16 points and nine rebounds) and Layman (13 points and seven rebounds) provided respectable contributions. Minnesota struggled to contain Utah’s star players, however, also letting the Jazz shoot 16-of-39 (41%) from deep.

“He’s shooting at a high level from three and getting a lot of good looks and staying really committed to it,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said of Beasley, whose 33 points led all scorers in the game. “There’s no second-guessing his shot. He’s locked in. He’s been really, really good. Mostly it’s just his shot selection is leading to good shots.”

Here are some other notes from the Northwest tonight:

Mavs Notes: Doncic, Carlisle, DSJ, Porzingis, Barea

Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks‘ lottery pick a year before the team selected Luka Doncic, quickly bonded with his new teammate upon Doncic’s arrival in 2018, forming an off-the-court friendship. However, Dallas’ front office and then-coach Rick Carlisle didn’t believe the two guards were an on-court fit and were already planning to “blow it up,” according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who says Carlisle had wanted to draft Donovan Mitchell in 2017 and had quickly soured on Smith.

In the months before Smith was sent to New York in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, Carlisle was hard on the former N.C. State standout — he accused DSJ of being jealous of Doncic and seemed determined to make him miserable, multiple former players and staffers told ESPN. The treatment was “appalling” to Doncic, who resented Carlisle’s apparent desire to pit him against his teammate and friend, writes MacMahon.

As MacMahon outlines, the Smith situation represented the beginning of years-long tension between Carlisle and Doncic.

“It wasn’t really about how Rick treated Luka,” a Mavs player on the 2018/19 team told ESPN. “Luka hated how Rick treated other people.”

For what it’s worth, Smith replied to MacMahon’s article on Twitter and said the details about his time in Dallas were “spot on,” adding, “Y’all don’t even know the half.”

Here are a few more of the most interesting details from the ESPN report, which is worth checking out in full:

  • Shortly before he resigned as the Mavericks’ head coach, Carlisle – who had two years left on his contract – approached team owner Mark Cuban about the possibility of an extension, but was shot down, says MacMahon. Carlisle, recognizing that he’d likely enter the 2021/22 season on the hot seat if he remained in Dallas, decided to leave once he was confident he’d be able to quickly secure another head coaching job. Doncic never called for Carlisle’s dismissal, sources tell ESPN.
  • According to MacMahon, the Mavericks came to regret releasing J.J. Barea prior to the 2020/21 season, since the veteran guard had served as “connective tissue” between Doncic and Carlisle and between Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, helping manage those relationships. When Doncic and Porzingis had communication issues last season, Carlisle wasn’t in position to smooth them over since he didn’t have a great relationship with either player, MacMahon adds.
  • Porzingis was so disillusioned entering the 2021 offseason that he would’ve welcomed a trade, MacMahon reports. However, the big man has felt rejuvenated since Carlisle’s departure under new head coach Jason Kidd, who was the only candidate the Mavs seriously considered during their coaching search, per MacMahon.

Donovan Mitchell, DeMar DeRozan Named Players Of The Week

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Bulls guard/forward DeMar DeRozan have been named the NBA’s Players of the Week for the Western Conference and Eastern Conference, respectively, the league announced today (Twitter link).

Mitchell’s Jazz and DeRozan’s Bulls were both 3-0 during the week of Nov. 29 — Dec. 5. Mitchell averaged 33.0 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 1.67 SPG with a 57.1/43.3/93.3 shooting line, while DeRozan put up 30.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 4.0 APG while shooting 58.7% from the floor in wins over Charlotte, New York, and Brooklyn.

The other nominees for the awards were Nikola Jokic, Dejounte Murray, Jae’Sean Tate, and Christian Wood in the West, along with Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, Kevin Durant, and Jayson Tatum in the East (via Twitter).

Gobert, Turner, Ingles, Mitchell, VanVleet Fined By NBA

As we noted earlier today, there was a mild dustup between Rudy Gobert and Myles Turner in the Jazz‘s 111-100 loss to the Pacers last night. Both players were ejected, as were Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell.

The NBA has announced (Twitter link) that all four players have been fined for the incident, but avoided suspensions.

Gobert was dinged $35K for initiating the altercation, Turner $25K for escalating, Ingles $30K for pushing a referee, and Mitchell $20K for escalating via verbally taunting.

In a separate tweet, the league also announced that Fred VanVleet of the Raptors was fined $15K for making an obscene gesture at the end of the team’s win against the Sixers last night. VanVleet recreated an old Sam Cassell celebration, which has earned imitators fines in the past.

Jazz Notes: Gobert, Ingles, Mitchell, Whiteside, Butler, Wade

Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Pacers center Myles Turner engaged in a skirmish during Thursday’s game in Utah, briefly wrestling with one another after getting tangled up following a Gobert drive (video link).

As Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune details, the incident resulted in ejections for Gobert and Turner, as well as for Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell. Ingles was ejected for shoving referee Ed Malloy while trying to break up the fight; Mitchell was said to be “acting as an instigator and escalating the situation.” It’s unclear if any players will face suspensions as a result of the incident, but fines, at least, seem likely.

After the game, Mitchell and Gobert were focused more on the way the game was being officiated than concerns about forthcoming penalties. Gobert said referees are “allowing guys to do way too much s–t” this season and Mitchell agreed.

“It’s really at a point now, especially tonight, where the referees are allowing things to get out of hand,” Mitchell said, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “Both teams, we’re competitors and we’ll play through contact and talk s–t and do whatever. But at some point it’s continuing to build and you can sense that.”

Here’s more out of Utah:

  • Hassan Whiteside has been a great fit so far as the Jazz’s second-string center, Todd writes for The Deseret News. According to Todd, the veteran big man – who has been accused in the past of looking to pad his own stats – has embraced the team-first philosophy in Utah. “It’s so cool how close this team is, I haven’t been on a team that’s this close,” Whiteside said. “A lot of people say, ‘Hey we’re close team, hey we do this together.’ Nah. This is really like a close-knit group. It’s great. I love it.”
  • Rookie guard Jared Butler can expect to bounce back and forth between the NBA and the G League this season, as Todd outlines in a separate story for The Deseret News. The veteran-heavy Jazz won’t be making it a top priority to develop their young prospects at the NBA level, so Butler, Udoka Azubuike, and Elijah Hughes could all see reps for the Salt Lake City Stars when they’re not part of Utah’s rotation, says general manager Justin Zanik.
  • Dwyane Wade‘s position as a part-owner of the Jazz hasn’t diminished his Heat fandom, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Wade said he still “loves” his old team and would be rooting for them to win a championship if the Jazz don’t. “Miami, from a personal standpoint, I would love to see them win it all,” he said. “But I also would love to see us win it all. So, for me, it’s a win-win.”

Northwest Notes: Porter Jr., Mitchell, Lillard, Wolves Offense

Nikola Jokic has a sore knee, but Nuggets coach Michael Malone is equally concerned about Michael Porter Jr.‘s slow start, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Signed to a five-year max extension in late September, Porter is averaging just 11.5 PPG while shooting 34.6% from the field.

“We’ve got to get Michael Porter going,” Malone said. “He’s four games in, and I know that he’s capable of playing at a much higher level — from a shooting standpoint, his efficiency, his rebounding, his defense — so we’ve got to get more from Michael Porter.”

Jokic is questionable to play on Friday.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz, particularly new owner Ryan Smith, are going out of their way to keep Donovan Mitchell happy, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report writes. Mitchell has voiced to Jazz officials his desire to see more Black men in the organization and it has added a number of them in recent hires. Mitchell is in the first year of a five-year, $163MM contract.
  • There was a lot of speculation regarding Damian Lillard‘s future with the Trail Blazers during the offseason but he appears content now, Mark Medina of writes. Lillard has become a strong believer in first-year coach Chauncey Billups, who led the Pistons to the 2004 championship. “I think it’ll just continue to get better,” Lillard said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for me to see something different and to learn. (Billups) knows the way to help myself and him, as a coach, to become a champion.”
  • The Timberwolves are off to a 3-1 start despite shooting 42.6% from the field and averaging 16.3 turnovers per game. They’re still trying to strike the perfect balance, led by their Big Three of Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “That is the balance when you give everybody as much freedom as we do,” coach Chris Finch said. “Kat, Ant, D-Lo, they have the license to break the offense, if you will, or be aggressive within it is probably a better way to put it. They can’t just always live off doing it with the first pass or first action and I think that’s where we’re living right now.”

Western Notes: Ennis, Lakers, Suns, Little, Jazz

Free agent forward James Ennis worked out for the Lakers this week, sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic (Twitter link). Ennis, who was linked to Los Angeles earlier in free agency, would make sense as a depth piece on the wing for the Lakers, who only have 13 players on guaranteed contracts.

As we relayed earlier today, the Lakers figure to keep their 15th roster spot open during the regular season to keep their projected tax bill in check, but the 14th spot remains up for grabs.

Here’s more from around the West:

  • The Suns issued a press release today announcing some additions to their coaching staff, including Michael Ruffin as an assistant. Ruffin has some experience working under Monty Williams in the past, having served as an assistant on the Pelicans’ staff from 2014-20. The 2014/15 season was Williams’ last as New Orleans’ head coach.
  • Nassir Little, the 25th pick in the 2019 draft, hasn’t made a major impact for the Trail Blazers during his first two years in the NBA, but he has turned heads this offseason, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. Quick says team officials are intrigued by Little and believe he can “contribute in a way that is unique.” While the 21-year-old figures to play mostly a three-and-D role, Little says new head coach Chauncey Billups also wants to see him improve his play-making skills.
  • Sarah Todd of The Deseret News examines nine questions the Jazz should answer by the end of training camp next week, including whether their star guards – Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley – are healthy and pain-free after dealing with injuries late last season.

Northwest Notes: Mitchell, Micić, Krejci, Simmons

Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell played through an ankle injury during Utah’s two-round 2021 postseason run. In a new conversation with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Mitchell has indicated that the injury is healing nicely.

“The ankle feels good,” Mitchell said. “I’ll be ready to go. I think last year definitely was shaky. There were just so many different obstacles with the ankle and whatnot, but — like I said — no slight to Phoenix or Milwaukee or the Clippers, you know, (but) I feel like if we were healthy, you know, we… get to the Finals.”

The Jazz fell 4-2 to the Clippers in the second round of the Western Conference Finals. The Clippers were missing their best player, Kawhi Leonard, for the final three contests of the series, while Utah’s starting guards – Mitchell and Mike Conley – were coming off injuries of their own.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Guard Vasilije Micić revealed in a podcast interview with Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews that he was tendered a strong offer to join the Thunder for the 2021/22 season, but ultimately decided to remain in Europe, with the Turkish club Anadolu Efes. Micić cited a few factors behind his decision. A big one was that he wanted to be able to play in the Olympic qualifying games for Serbia in July and wouldn’t be able to sign Oklahoma City until August, so he didn’t want to risk an injury while he was still unsigned. Micić, a draft-and-stash prospect, was named the EuroLeague MVP while helping Anadolu Efes win the 2021 EuroLeague title.
  • Thunder guard Vit Krejci will resume five-on-five workouts this week, reports Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The 21-year-old Krejci, selected with the No. 37 pick and flipped to the Thunder on draft night, tore his ACL in September 2020. He recently signed his first NBA contract.
  • As chatter grows surrounding a potential Timberwolves deal for Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic unpacks what a deal could look like, as well as how likely it looks that a deal could happen between these particular franchises, with Minnesota apparently uninterested in including their two most valuable players, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards. Krawczynski notes that a trade appears unlikely before the start of training camp, and that Sixers team president Daryl Morey will do his darnedest to drum up more interest in Simmons around the league. If the market for Simmons remains relatively apathetic, Krawczynski opines that the Timberwolves have a chance to add him.