NBA buzz suggests Donovan Mitchell will decline extension and look elsewhere unless Cavs make Finals

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, the latest buzz permeating in NBA circles paints two different pictures regarding Donovan Mitchell’s future as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers organization.

“The buzz in NBA circles suggests that barring a run to the NBA Finals, Mitchell will decline an extension and look elsewhere, and the Cavaliers are more likely than not to move him well before he can leave outright as a free agent,” Pincus wrote.

Cleveland hasn’t been playing at the top of its game lately. The Cavaliers own a record of 4-6 over their last 10 games, and Mitchell expressed frustration with the team’s recent stretch following its loss to the Denver Nuggets on March 31.

“I told you at the beginning of the season, if we had these struggles at this point then it’s a problem,” Mitchell said, referring to a conversation he had after the Cavs started 3-5. “It can’t happen. I can say all this now. We have to find a way to figure it out. It’s not going to linger after tonight. Have to watch the film and get back to what we do. But it can’t happen. We can all point to s—. It’s April. It’s (expletive) April. We’ve got to figure it out. And we will.”

Still, if the Cavaliers’ record and where the team ranks in the Eastern Conference standings this season are any indication, an NBA Finals appearance later this year might be within the realm of possibility. Cleveland currently owns the third-best record of any team in the conference at 46-31 and is just a game and a half behind the Milwaukee Bucks — who are on a two-game losing streak — for the No. 2 seed.

Mitchell is also enjoying one of the best seasons of his NBA career from a statistical standpoint in the 2023-24 regular season, his second season with the Cavaliers organization. He is averaging 26.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 6.0 assists and a career-high 1.8 steals per game on 46.3 percent shooting from the floor and 36.8 percent from deep.

He is leading the Cavaliers in points and steals per game while averaging the second-most assists per contest, behind only star guard Darius Garland, who is recording 6.6 assists per game.

The Cavaliers’ next two games on their regular-season slate will come against a pair of teams based in California in the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. Cleveland will take on the Lakers on Saturday before playing the Clippers the following day.

The Lakers are riding a three-game winning streak at the moment, while the Clippers own a 6-4 record over their last 10 contests and earned a two-point victory over the Denver Nuggets — the reigning NBA champions — on Thursday.

Finishing the regular season off on a high note could help Mitchell and company get some momentum heading into the first round of the 2024 playoffs.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.