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Donovan Mitchell is one of the biggest dominoes that could fall in free agency this summer.

The Cavaliers All-Star guard is eligible for an extension of up to four years, $200.4 million. If he chooses not to sign an extension with Cleveland, it has to consider trading him (Mitchell has a player option for 2025-26 that nobody expects he will pick up). Teams would be lined up to trade for the elite scorer.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is confident Mitchell will sign to stay with the Cavaliers, he told Tom Withers of the Associated Press.

“We’ve been talking to him, sure, for the last couple of years about extending this contract,” Gilbert told Withers. “We think he will extend. I think if you listen to him talk, he loves the city.

“He loves the situation in Cleveland because our players are very young and we’re just kind of putting the core together that he’s clearly the biggest part of.”

Mitchell signed a five-year max extension with the Jazz back in 2020, with a fifth-year player option. This new extension would build off that deal — the Cavaliers offered him a max extension last summer but the most they could offer at the time was $55 million less than what can be put on the table this summer. While some Cavaliers fans became nervous when Mitchell turned that first offer down — and some Knicks fans became optimistic — Mitchell was never going to sign an extension last summer for financial reasons. This summer, things get real.

Adding to the buzz, Cleveland was not on top of Mitchell’s list when he pushed for a trade out of Utah in 2022, his native New York or Miami were the targets Cleveland stepped up with the best offer and presented Mitchell with the opportunity to become the leading scorer and face of a promising young team That team won 51 games last season but then got manhandled by the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs This season the Cavaliers sit fourth in the East on a 49-win pace with a top-five defense, but the Cavaliers have stumbled of late (having lost 4-of-5) and they are not striking fear into other teams in the East Mitchell has missed time with a fractured nose and knee issues, although he is set to return on Friday.

If the Cavaliers stumble again in the playoffs, would Mitchell consider pushing his way out to get to a place he felt he could win? That makes a great podcast/radio talking point, but…

It’s all about the money. It’s always all about the money.

If the Cavaliers offer a max $200 million extension, expect Mitchell to grab it. Even if he ultimately wants out, he’d rather leave with that guaranteed contract under his arm in a year or two. Agents around the league advise grabbing the biggest bag you can — a superstar getting traded is not that hard to make happen.

Cleveland’s brain trust — owner Gilbert and the head of basketball operations Koby Altman — have to decide if this is the road they want to go down. Darius Garland has been locked in at the point on a five-year, $193 million deal, and now both Mitchell and rising star big man Evan Mobley are extension eligible and looking for massive paydays. That’s a lot of money to commit to three players who have yet to prove they can win together. Can the Cavaliers afford to go down this road with three expensive players in an NBA where a new CBA and a second tax apron have the richest of owners looking for ways to avoid being above that line?

This summer the Cavaliers will make their offer to Mitchell, whether or not he signs it will be one of the big dominoes of the summer.

Gilbert is confident that domino is not in play.

Read the full article here

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