Ryan Smith ‘Everyone Should Celebrate’ Donovan Mitchell Return
SALT LAKE CITY – Ryan Smith, owner of the Utah Jazz joined Hans Olsen and Scott Garrard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone to discuss the return of Donovan Mitchell to face his former team.
Smith agreed to buy the Jazz in October of 2020 and has seen a whirlwind of movement since becoming the majority owner.
In a little over 24 months the Jazz have seen Vice President of Basketball Operations Dennis Lindsey and head coach Quin Snyder leave the organization while bringing in Danny Ainge to serve as CEO and Will Hardy to coach the team.
Last summer the Jazz made radical changes to the roster trading four of the team’s five starters, including All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell for an impressive haul of players and draft picks.
On Tuesday, Mitchell will return to Utah for the first time as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers to face the team that helped transform him into an NBA superstar.
Smith, Ainge Discuss Mitchell Returning
Mitchell is making one of the most highly-anticipated returns to Utah of any Jazz player in franchise history.
The guard has had a career year with the Cavaliers where he’s led Cleveland to the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference while averaging a personal-best 28.8 points per game.
“I think everyone should celebrate,” Smith said of Mitchell’s return. “We forget quickly that this is a kid that came out pumped life into this franchise and gave everyone all these memories.”
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Mitchell’s play hit a historic peak last week when he scored a franchise-record 71 points against the Chicago Bulls.
“We were cheering when he scored 71 the other night and I think we should celebrate his return,” Smith said. “I know the players are.”
In addition to Smith’s appearance on the KSL Sports Zone, Danny Ainge said down with KSL Sports’ Jeremiah Jensen for an in-depth conversation on the Jazz, including Mitchell’s pending return.
Despite overseeing the trade that sent Mitchell to Cleveland, Ainge praised Mitchell’s evolution as a player dating back to college.
“I’ve been a big fan of his watching him from a distance in his early Utah career,” Ainge said. “It was really impressive how he transformed his game from his freshman year at Louisville to his sophomore year to becoming the 13th pick in the draft and becoming a three-time NBA All-Star and a member of the US National Team.”
I sat down with Ryan Smith and Danny Ainge to get their thoughts on the @utahjazz at the midpoint of the season. You can see the interview on @kslsports Sunday night at 10:45. Here is our conversation on Lauri Markkanen's emergence as a star. #TakeNote pic.twitter.com/k7WfnsALin
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) January 8, 2023
Mitchell led the Jazz to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons in the NBA, and Ainge said he hopes fans in Utah show their appreciation upon his return.
“It’s a great story, he’s continuing to get better, I remain a great, great fan of Donovan’s,” Ainge said. “I wish him nothing but the best and I hope that people receive him with great enthusiasm and energy and he deserves that.”
Utah Jazz vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Broadcast
The Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers will tip off at 7 pm MT in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. It can also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.
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