Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA
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Exclusive: Donovan Mitchell Having Less Reason To Stay With Cavs, Though He's Not Saying As Much

CLEVELAND — Donovan Mitchell with the Cleveland Cavaliers is looking a lot like LeBron James once did with the Cavs — like a one-man show. But these Cavs weren't supposed to be built that way.

Mitchell has put the Cavs on his back and carried them throughout the playoffs, almost single-handedly lifting them to a harder-than-it-should've-been win over the Orlando Magic in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Cleveland now trails the Boston Celtics by a 2-1 count in the best-of-seven second-round series.

That one win for the Cavs was a teamwide effort in which they looked better than any other time this postseason. The rest of the games have been a whole lotta Mitchell ... and not nearly enough of the other guys.

That's not how these Cavs were supposed to be built. Evan Mobley was supposed to be a "unicorn" who dominated the power forward position in the same manner as a Kevin Garnett or Chris Bosh. Mobley could still get there someday, but he's not anywhere close to that yet.

Then there's Darius Garland, the one-time All-Star who signed a max contract extension. Simply put, he's been terrible this season, resembling a guy who ought to be coming off the bench and maybe offering a once-in-a-while spark. Some around the Cavs tell FanBuzz that they believe Garland needs a veteran point guard to push him in practice, and there's a reason he hasn't been the same since Ricky Rubio left/retired.

There's more. Max Strus has failed to deliver the promised outside shooting in the playoffs after being acquired from Miami last offseason. Georges Niang is on the bench after failing to do the same. Caris LeVert has been hot and cold, mostly cold. Isaac Okoro is unreliable as an offensive player. Jarrett Allen has been fantastic, but has either bruised or fractured ribs.

The Cavs are far from a contender — likely further than they expected to be.

Which leads us back to Mitchell. He is eligible to sign a contract extension this offseason. If he doesn't sign one, it's the same thing as requesting a trade. After all, the Cavs will have to trade him or risk losing him for nothing next summer.

And right now, what reasons do you see for Mitchell to re-sign? It's not because the team's moves are taking them places. Now, even if Mitchell does re-sign, more moves will be needed. Considerably more, especially when it comes to the bench.

Anyway, Mitchell looked downtrodden and utterly exhausted in the locker room after the Cavs' Game 3 home loss to the Celtics on Saturday. He has repeatedly said he will only worry about and deal with his contract situation after the season.

Mitchell can sign an extension for up to four years and about $200 million this summer. The 27-year-old has a player option worth $37 million for 2025-26 He can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2025 if he declines that player option.

"I think the biggest thing for me, as I said before to you earlier, I mean obviously you have to ask the question, but my focus is I got a lot of things to focus on outside of that right now," Mitchell said, while speaking to a handful of outlets, including FanBuzz. "I've got to focus on myself, getting back for this group, focus on us getting over this stretch, continuing to be ready when it comes time.

"So, I'll handle that when it comes, and I understand you gotta ask that question and I'll give you the same answer."

But word is, Mitchell could force the Cavs' hand this offseason, and he has the Heat particularly high on his list, via one report.

That may or may not be entirely true. But if there's one thing these playoffs are showing, it's that Mitchell needs help. And it might be hard to blame him if he goes elsewhere to find it.