NBA exec on Donovan Mitchell: ‘There’s no doubt he’s leaving once his contract ends’

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

One NBA executive reportedly believes that Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell is leaving the franchise once his contract ends.

Mitchell is under contract through the 2024-25 season with Cleveland, and he has a player option for the 2025-26 season. He could opt out of that player option following the 2024-25 season to become an unrestricted free agent.

“If the Cleveland Cavaliers (currently second in the East) flame out in the first round again, will Donovan Mitchell ask out?” The Ringer’s Howard Beck wrote. “Or if Mitchell, slated for free agency in 2025, balks at a contract extension (as rivals expect), will the Cavs preemptively trade him? ‘There’s no doubt he’s leaving once his contract ends,’ said the second Eastern Conference exec, echoing a belief held by many around the league.”

Mitchell could sign a contract extension with the Cavs this coming offseason, but it’s also possible that he declines to, which would essentially put him on a one-year deal (if he intends to opt out).

The Cavs traded several assets, including Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen, prior to the 2022-23 season to acquire Mitchell from the Utah Jazz. The move paid off immediately, as the Cavs made the playoffs last season, earning the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.

This season, Cleveland has been even better, jumping to the No. 2 seed in the East with a 35-17 record. The team is six games back of the Boston Celtics for the No. 1 seed in the conference.

However, the possibility of Mitchell leaving the franchise has been a topic of discussion for quite some time. Earlier this season, Bill Simmons called Mitchell eventually leaving Cleveland the “worst kept secret” in the NBA.

It appears that at least this NBA executive feels the same way about the Cavs star’s time in Cleveland.

The best way for the Cavs to keep Mitchell around may be playoff success. Mitchell and the Cavs were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by the New York Knicks last season.

In his first season in Cleveland, Mitchell was an All-NBA selection for the first time in his career. This season, he’s been just as good, carrying the Cavs when Darius Garland and Evan Mobley were sidelined.

Overall, the University of Louisville product is averaging 28.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from 3-point range.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Cavs handle Mitchell’s future if he doesn’t extend his deal with the team this coming offseason.

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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.