Windhorst unravels potential contract issue Cavs created with Mobley due to Mitchell trade

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers made a move to contend for an NBA title on Thursday, as they traded a major package for Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell.

Cleveland gave up guard Collin Sexton, forward Lauri Markkanen, 2022 first-round pick Ochai Agbaji, three unprotected first-round picks and two pick swaps for Mitchell, a three-time All-Star.

The deal certainly makes the Cavs contenders in the 2022-23 season, but there is one slight problem that the trade has created.

The Cavs, who now have two players on five-year designated rookie scale max extensions after acquiring Mitchell, could face an issue when it’s time for Evan Mobley to get a contract extension.

“This is deep in the CBA, but the Cavs did create a problem today, a potential problem,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said, starting around the 31:20 mark.

Windhorst explained the issue.

“You’re only allowed to have two designated players on your roster,” Windhorst said. “… The Cavs had one this summer — they created one when they signed Darius Garland to a five-year max. That makes him one of their designated players. Today, they traded for another one in Donovan Mitchell.”

Windhorst broke down how it impacts Mobley.

“Evan Mobley, assuming he continues to play this well, is probably going to be a designated player,” Windhorst said. “He becomes eligible to sign that extension in the summer of 2024. Donovan Mitchell will still be on his contract in that summer.”

While this creates a problem for Mobley receiving the rookie max extension, it doesn’t mean he can’t re-sign with the team.

“The Cavs can still sign Mobley, but they can’t give him the five-year contract,” Windhorst said. “They can only give him a four-year.”

Tim Bontemps then countered and explained that while Cleveland won’t be able to give Mobley a five-year extension at that time, the team could let him hit restricted free agency in the summer of 2025 and then sign him to a five-year max deal.

Even though it creates a bit of a problem, it’s not something Cleveland can’t work around. The Cavs may decide to roll the dice and hope Mobley agrees to a five-year deal as a restricted free agent, or they may decide to lock him up prior to that for four seasons to play things safe.

Even though the team would like to have Mobley for as long as possible, especially after his strong rookie season, this problem is worth the cost of adding a player like Mitchell to the roster.

As a rookie in the 2021-22 season, Mobley averaged 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from beyond the arc.

If he continues to develop on both ends of the floor, the Cavs are going to have one of the best young cores in the NBA for years to come.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.