The Cleveland Cavaliers have one of the best young cores in the NBA and are coming off their best season without LeBron James since the 1990s. While the building blocks are there for the Cavs to be a contender in the East for the next several seasons, star Donovan Mitchell’s upcoming free agency next summer complicates that future.
Mitchell is entering his seventh season, but he has played in a small market his entire career and has yet to hit unrestricted free agency. After being traded to the Cavaliers last summer from the Utah Jazz, it’s possible he may want to choose where he plays for the first time ever in the summer of 2024 when he will be arguably the best free agent available.
That would foreclose the possibility of Mitchell signing a contract extension before then, and on a recent ESPN podcast, Washington Post NBA writer Tim Bontemps confirmed as much.
Donovan Mitchell’s future with the Cavs is up in the air.
Bontemps’ claim that he won’t agree to an extension before the summer of 2024 puts more pressure on the Cavaliers to win next season. After all, their failure to do so was partly why they lost their best player to free agency before, with LeBron James leaving in 2010 and again in 2018. Wanting to test free agency doesn’t necessarily mean that he will bolt, though it doesn’t give the Cavaliers any assurance that he won’t either.
Were he to leave, the Cavaliers would still have a very good core consisting of Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen, but losing Mitchell would definitely hurt. After all, they gave up real assets to acquire him, and taking a big step back in a crowded East two seasons later would hurt their chances of winning the conference and returning to the NBA Finals.
All in all, Bontemps’ comments seem to confirm that Mitchell will indeed become a free agent in 2024. That doesn’t mean that he will leave Cleveland, but we won’t know for sure until then, leaving Cavs fans to wait and wonder.