Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Donovan Mitchell will not extend with Cavaliers this season but doesn’t rule out future deal

Donovan Mitchell’s first season with the Cleveland Cavaliers was largely a success, but thus far, he has not inked a long-term deal to remain with his new team. As he revealed on Tuesday, he will not be signing an extension this offseason. “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.”

Financially speaking, it makes sense for Mitchell to wait. At present, he can add only three years to his contract. The exact dollar figures on such a deal depend on where the cap falls, but based on current projections, he would be able to add roughly $149 million to his deal. By waiting until next offseason, he’d be looking at around $200 million over four years. The best possible payday for Mitchell would come in 2025 free agency when he would be eligible for a projected $260 million over five years if he re-signed in Cleveland. Notably, Mitchell was traded after the expiration of his rookie contract. This means that he is not eligible for a super-max deal, an option the Cavaliers would surely prefer to have.

After all, Mitchell was largely linked to bigger-market teams when the Jazz traded him to the Cavaliers in 2022, and those rumors have followed him to Cleveland despite his success last season. The New York Knicks heavily pursued him last offseason and the Brooklyn Nets have been linked to him as well thanks to some viral offseason moments with their young star Mikal Bridges.

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For now, the Cavaliers are expected to contend in the Eastern Conference. If next offseason does roll around and Mitchell still refuses to sign an extension, the Cavaliers will have to consider their options. Considering his youth and the number of teams likely to be interested, Cleveland could still probably trade him for a hefty package then rather than risk losing him for nothing. They could also play the situation out and allow him to become a free agent in 2025. Desirable teams rarely emphasize cap space anymore, so if the Knicks and Nets crowd their books, Cleveland might be willing to dare him to find a better situation on the open market.

Of course, Cleveland would much prefer an easier settlement. In a perfect world, the Cavaliers make a deep playoff run and Mitchell decides that he wants to remain in Cleveland and continue competing for championships. There is no telling now how attainable either goal will be, so the pressure is on the Cavaliers to prove they are the right team for their superstar guard.

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