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NBA

Why hasn’t the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell signed an extension with the team?

While it’s clearly too early to start ringing alarm bells, eyebrows will surely have been raised after the star indicated he’s not ready to extend his deal.

Update:
While it’s clearly too early to start ringing alarm bells, eyebrows will surely have been raised after the star indicated he’s not ready to extend his deal.
Ken BlazeUSA TODAY Sports

When looking at the big picture, it’s not hard to understand the stance that the former Utah Jazz star has taken, however, the clock is now officially. Should the Cavs fail to improve on last season, there could be trouble ahead.

Donovan Mitchell won’t extend this season

Though it would be a stretch to say that Donovan Mitchell’s first season with the Cleveland Cavaliers was a flying success, it would be unfair to say that it was a disaster. Sure, the Cavs weren’t crowned NBA champions, but they did begin to look like a team that could contend for a title in the very near future. This of course brings us to the present situation, which is that reports now confirm that Mitchell has declined to put pen to paper on a long-term contract and moreover, won’t be doing so this season.

“I still have the opportunity to sign an extension next summer,” Mitchell said. “My primary focus is this. Just trying to go out there and trying to be the best team we can be and bring a championship to the city and go from there.”

OK, but why won’t Donovan Mitchell extend his deal?

Well, for starters, there is the financial aspect of it all. That’s to say that in there here and now, Mitchell can only extend his current contract by three years. Now, the value of such a deal would understandably depend on cap space, but we’re talking roughly $150 million. The best case scenario for Mitchell at this point would be to enter into free agency in 2025 where he would be up for a projected $260 million, five-year deal were he to re-sign with the Cavs. It’s important to note, that Mitchell was traded following the end of his rookie contract i.e., he isn’t eligible for a super-max deal, a fact that puts the Cavs in a bit of a bind.

This is where we come to the other aspect of the situation: Winning. Consider for a moment that the Cavs pulled off quite a coup when they landed Mitchell in 2022. This after all was a player who was pursued by several bigger-market teams including the New York Knicks. Truthfully, the chatter still continues as evidenced by Mitchell’s now-viral moments with Brooklyn Nets star, Mikal Bridges, during the offseason. What this all means is that if the Cavs can’t offer their star a competitive roster, it’s reasonable and understandable to believe that he might look for one elsewhere.

So, how does it play out between Donovan Mitchell & the Cavs?

To be clear, there is no reason to believe that the Cavs won’t be Eastern Conference contenders this coming season. With that in mind, should it come to pass that Mitchell still refuses to sign an extension at the conclusion of the campaign, the franchise will have to start planning for life after him. Indeed, at that point, the focus would be on securing a satisfactory from one of the myriad of teams that will likely try to acquire him, especially when we consider his young age.

Conversely, there is another school of thought, which is to say the Cavs could actually allow him to become a free agent in 2025. It’s no secret that the bigger franchises don’t give a hoot about cap space, meaning if Mitchell were to join one of them, his contract would be up against a plethora of other high-paid individuals, and that in turn means he almost certainly wouldn’t get the kind of deal he could in Cleveland. Yet, one has to imagine, that is not the road the Cavs would like to travel. Ideally, the team will do big things this year, Mitchell will decide to stay, and the franchise will continue building a roster that can win an NBA championship soon. Of course, that’s ideally speaking.