Last night many players attended a call in which Kyrie Irving organized. One of those players was the Utah Jazz’s own Donovan Mitchell. Sham Charania reports that Mitchell and others expressed concerns that the condensed nature of games with the increased level of play required for playoff basketball—not to mention the risks of playing during a pandemic—could lead to increased chances of injury. Donovan Mitchell is eligible for a max contract extension as early as this offseason. Shams Charania also reported that Donovan Mitchell was willing to sit out due to those injury concerns.
Donovan Mitchell, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard among others spoke out about possibly sitting out due to social/COVID-19 issues, per sources. NBPA leadership, Paul/Garrett Temple, provided insight too. Every player had a voice — wants to find purpose, whether they play or not.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 13, 2020
In the report at The Athletic, Shams Charania said of Donovan Mitchell, “Mitchell expressed concerns about playing due to “being behind the 8-ball” having not played five-on-five and being thrust into a competitive environment and eight-game regular season. “We’re taking a big (injury) risk,” Mitchell said. Mitchell is up for a maximum contract extension this summer.”
Once those reports were tweeted out by The Athletic and Bleacher Report, Donovan Mitchell was quick to respond on Twitter by quote tweeting Bleacher Report’s tweet saying, “Stop it.....”
It is very likely that Donovan was expressing those concerns of injury because he is worried about the health risks he and others are accepting while returning to play. But it doesn’t appear that he was willing to sit out. More it seems he was making sure he was making sure his concerns had a chance to be heard by Kyrie Irving who serves as Vice President of the NBPA.
Donovan Mitchell wasn’t the only Jazzman on the call. Mike Conley was listening in as well. There have been no reports about whether Mike Conley was vocal on the call.
On that call Kyrie Irving did say he was willing to sit out.
Bradley, the Lakers guard, was the second person to speak on the call after Irving and was vocal throughout, urging players to take a stand and utilize this moment to “play chess, not checkers,” those sources said.
“I don’t support going into Orlando,” Irving told the players. “I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. … Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.”
As of right now it appears that the NBA will be returning, but the NBA will have to provide more solutions to alleviate the NBAPA’s concerns. With many players focused on making effectual change in their communities during the protests spurred by George Floyd, discrepancies on bubble requirements between NBA staff and Disney staff, and the compressed restart, the NBA still has a lot of work to do to make sure they can restart next month.