Donovan Mitchell’s long-term future with the Cleveland Cavaliers remains unknown, and one NBA insider said he does not believe the star guard will sign a contract extension to stay when he becomes eligible to do so next offseason.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 21, 2023
“I do not expect him to sign an extension with the Cavs this summer,” Brian Windhorst said of Mitchell. “Nor do I expect that to cause a major alarm. … But the way that he handles discussing it is important.”
The possibility of Mitchell’s departure has lingered almost since the moment he was traded to the Cavs by the Utah Jazz in September 2022. The 27-year-old has three years left on a five-year, $163 million contract he signed with the Jazz in November 2020 and will become eligible for three-year extension next summer.
Last season, his first with the Cavs, Mitchell helped them win 51 regular season games and reach the playoffs for the first time since 2018. However, the campaign ended in disappointing fashion with a five-game loss to the New York Knicks in the first round.
The fact that the Cavs were eliminated by the Knicks was even harder to take because New York is likely to be at the top of the list of possible destinations for the four-time All-Star if he were to leave Cleveland.
Mitchell is a New York native whose father works for the New York Mets, and this offseason, he was effusively commenting on the “jumping” atmosphere of Madison Square Garden. Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, who is a friend of Mitchell, also has addressed the possibility of the two becoming teammates.
The Cavaliers are considered an up-and-coming team with a young, emerging core of Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Cleveland also believes it has improved this offseason by acquiring Max Strus and Georges Niang in an attempt to boost its offense.
However, if Mitchell’s status becomes even more of a distraction than it already is, it could derail the upward trajectory of the franchise and worry the fan base. Windhorst mentioned how Giannis Antetokounmpo is handling a similar circumstance with the Milwaukee Bucks and what it might do to that team.
“How Donovan answers that question and explains his decision process will be very important for the Cleveland Cavaliers, their fans and potentially other teams out there who may be interested in making a trade for Donovan Mitchell at some point to listen to,” Windhorst said.
The Cleveland organization reportedly is “rolling out the red carpet” to convince Mitchell to commit long term. But if Windhorst is correct, a final decision may not come for quite some time.