NBA insider believes Donovan Mitchell could be on the move if the Cavs struggle this season

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN NBA insider Tim Bontemps believes that Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell could be a big name at the trade deadline if the Cavs struggle.

“Donovan Mitchell,” Bontemps wrote. “Cleveland has to try to prove over the next year it’s worth having Mitchell sign up long term, or they’ll have to consider moving him with a year left on his deal next offseason. If the Cavaliers struggle next season, Mitchell’s name could come up.”

Mitchell is under contract with the Cavs for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons. He also has a player option for the 2025-26 campaign. The earliest that the All-NBA guard can hit unrestricted free agency is following the 2024-25 season if he decides to opt out of his deal.

Mitchell, a four-time All-Star, led the Cavs to the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference during the 2022-23 season.

While the Cavs were knocked out in the first round by the New York Knicks – a disappointing finish to an otherwise successful season – the team still showed it can hang with some of the top teams in the East during the regular season.

Cleveland acquired Mitchell in a trade with the Utah Jazz last offseason, and he didn’t fail to impress in his first season in a Cavs jersey, putting up major scoring numbers and earning a nod to an All-NBA team for the first time in his career.

The former first-round pick averaged 28.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc.

The Cavs certainly shouldn’t be looking to move Mitchell, but there’s a possibility that it becomes a storyline during the 2023-24 season.

Multiple teams, including the Knicks, were interested in Mitchell when he was still with the Jazz. If Cleveland takes a step back in the 2023-24 season, it’s likely that teams will try to persuade Cleveland to trade Mitchell before he can become a free agent.

The Cavs would probably get much more for Mitchell if they moved him with more than a year left on his contract.

Bontemps seems to think this is only possible if the Cavs struggle, so fans shouldn’t worry if Cleveland plays as well as it did last season in the 2023-24 campaign.

Mitchell should have some more help in the 2023-24 season as well after the Cavs agreed to deals with Caris LeVert and Georges Niang this offseason and a sign-and-trade for sharpshooter Max Strus.

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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.