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Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell to skip playing in Olympics

His 2019 World Cup experience and subsequent seasons of excellent play earned him an invitation to the roster, but he is opting out in order to rest his injured right ankle.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) is slow getting to his feet after being fouled by LA Clippers guard Paul George (13), in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals at Vivint Arena, on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

Several Utah Jazz players have signed up for or expressed interest in national team duty ahead of the coming Olympic Summer Games to be held in Tokyo.

Donovan Mitchell apparently will not be one of them.

The All-Star guard — whose reputation continued to climb with yet another stellar postseason performance — was offered a spot on Team USA, but declined, opting instead to use the time to rehab his right ankle sprain, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday afternoon.

ESPN’s Adrain Wojnarowski was the first to report the news.

Mitchell was one of the primary players on the much-maligned Team USA that failed to medal at the World Cup in the summer of 2019, when all of the NBA’s top stars opted out.

His participation that year endeared him to the organizational leaders within USA Basketball. That, combined with Mitchell’s subsequent two seasons (and postseasons) of escalating play apparently led to an offer for one of the 12 spots on this Olympic team.

However, Mitchell suffered a sprained ankle late in the 2020-21 season that cost him the final 16 games of the campaign. He wound up playing in 10 of Utah’s 11 playoff games, but appeared to re-aggravate the injury following a collision with the Clippers’ Paul George in the final seconds of Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal.

Michell, who was noticeably limping in Friday’s season-ending loss in Los Angeles, appeared to telegraph his Olympic decision in the immediate aftermath of that Game 6.

“This summer’s going to look a little different,” he said, “because obviously I’m hurt, so I’m definitely going to try to rehab first and get ready for next season.”

The already-condensed offseason also appears to be a factor in his decision, as this postseason isn’t slated to end until mid-July, while next season will return to the NBA’s traditional schedule, with training camps set to kick off in late September/early October.

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