Paul Pierce unsure if Donovan Mitchell is happy in Cleveland, points to lack of chemistry with Darius Garland

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA star Paul Pierce believes that things aren’t right with the Cleveland Cavaliers, particularly when it comes to star guard Donovan Mitchell.

Pierce isn’t sure if Mitchell is happy in Cleveland, and he also seems to have questions about the All-Star guard’s chemistry with Cavs point guard Darius Garland.

“I don’t think — things ain’t right in Cleveland,” he said. “… I’m not sure Donovan is happy over there. For one, I don’t think – he’s not signing an extension there. And two, it just seems like him and Garland, they chemistry wasn’t always there. So, it’ll be interesting to see how that work out because talent wise, they got talent.”

While Pierce is skeptical about Mitchell’s future, the Cavs guard is still under contract through the 2024-25 season, and he has a player option for the 2025-26 season.

There’s always a chance that Mitchell, who made an All-NBA team in his first season in Cleveland, could sign an extension with the team following the 2023-24 season.

The best way for the Cavs to keep Mitchell happy would be to continue to win games at a high rate in the 2023-24 season. The team earned the No. 4 seed in the East last season, but it did not have the playoff success that it was hoping for.

The Cavs were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the New York Knicks, lasting just five games in the series. The team could convince Mitchell that he can win in Cleveland if it makes a deeper playoff run this season.

As for Pierce’s chemistry comments, Mitchell had a ton of nice things to say about Garland late in the 2022-23 season.

“I think he has the pulse of the group,” Mitchell said of Garland. “He has everybody’s ear. At a young age to have everybody’s ear, that’s something that speaks a lot about his character.

“He’s always standing up on the bench cheering for guys, always giving his two cents. When things are going well and things aren’t going well, he’s always the same guy, the same teammate for us.”

While Garland and Mitchell are both smaller guards that like to have the ball in their hands, the two seemed to play pretty well together for a good portion of the 2022-23 season.

Garland ended up averaging 21.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game while shooting 41.0 percent from beyond the arc – the best mark from 3 in his NBA career.

Mitchell also saw his numbers improve playing alongside Garland last season. He averaged a career-high 28.3 points per game, earning All-NBA honors for the first time in his career.

Pierce may be skeptical, but the Cavs have to turn their focus to the 2023-24 season and worry about Mitchell’s future later.

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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.