Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant is joining the Knicks as an associate coach. Don’t bank on Donovan Mitchell coming home to New York with him.
Following an incredible performance in Utah’s seven-game first-round series loss to the Nuggets, Mitchell, who shares a close relationship with Bryant, is set to finalize a max extension — worth roughly $170 million over five years — with the Jazz when free agency begins in mid-October, according to Yahoo Sports.
When the NBA season was suspended, some voiced concern that the long layoff could lead to injuries, potentially jeopardizing life-changing contracts, like Mitchell was eligible to soon receive. The 23-year-old Westchester native instead cemented his place as one of the league’s best young stars, averaging 36.3 points, 5 rebounds and 4.9 assists in the series, while shooting 51.5 percent on 3-pointers.
“Once my teammates told me they wanted to play, then I was all in. I couldn’t make it all about myself,” Mitchell told Yahoo Sports after the devastating Game 7 loss. “There are younger guys who aren’t established in this league and needed this time to show their value. It would have been selfish of me to stand in the way of that. I couldn’t let my contract get in the way of the bigger picture. I had to rely on God. If I got hurt, it was God’s will. But I put my trust in him and didn’t worry about potentially getting injured. That allowed me to go out there and play. My faith was in God.”
After becoming one of four players in NBA history to score at least 50 points twice in the same playoff series, Mitchell’s worst performance came in Game 7. The All-Star guard had 22 points, but shot 9-of-22, while committing nine turnovers, which included fumbling away an opportunity with the Jazz down two in the final seconds.
Afterward, Mitchell cried uncontrollably, collapsing into Bryant’s arms. Yahoo reported that the two embraced for several minutes, with Bryant consoling him.
“That’s two years in a row,” Mitchell said to Bryant, referencing last year’s first-round loss to the Rockets. “We worked too f–king hard for this.”
“I’m going to get right back to work,” Mitchell told Yahoo Sports. “I’m not done. The Utah Jazz aren’t done.”
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