Donovan Mitchell Fails to Quiet Trade Buzz With Media Day Comments

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell failed to end the rampant trade speculation surrounding him on media day.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell failed to end the rampant trade speculation surrounding him on media day. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Team media days are supposed to be a time of pure excitement as a new season approaches. There's new additions to look forward to, maybe some new coaches as well, and stars often talk about all the work they put in during the summer to get even better.

However, the Cleveland Cavaliers' media day brought with it a bit of anxiety. Trade speculation involving guard Donovan Mitchell is running rampant as experts believe he desires a bigger market to star in, with the rival New York Knicks often linked to the recent All-NBA selection.

When addressing his future on Monday, Mitchell didn't do much to dispel the notion that he is a flight risk.

The four-time All-Star highlighted he still has "the opportunity" to sign a contract extension with Cleveland in the summer of 2024. He said he's "excited" about what the team has built, but added his future will be addressed after the season.

It's difficult to view Mitchell's comments as positive. He didn't state his overwhelming desire to spend the rest of his prime with the Cavs, instead putting off that important question to next season. Spoiler alert: When a star NBA player declines to make a call on his future with a team, that's not a great sign.

It'd be one thing if Mitchell took the approach of another small-market franchise player in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who made it clear this summer that while he wanted to be in Milwaukee, he'd have to pursue other options if they didn't make championship-winning moves. Antetokounmpo gave the Bucks the opportunity (or warning) to impress him, and they did by landing Damian Lillard.

Mitchell not making any demands seems to showcase his disinterest in sticking around. After all, if this was a situation he was really invested in, he'd be making Antetokoumpo-like pleas for what he wants the team to look like if he's not 100% pleased. His silence in this area speaks volumes.

It's clear Mitchell wants to keep his options open with free agency approaching in just two seasons (assuming he declines his 2025-26 player option). As a result, the Cavaliers should too. There's no point in building around a star who isn't truly invested in building something in a small market.

This team has the pieces to contend, but it's on Mitchell to actually value that. Otherwise, it's better parting ways sooner than later and getting someone else who clearly wants to be in Cleveland.

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