Donovan Mitchell Rumors Are Nothing New for Cavaliers Fans

National pundits are already punching Donovan Mitchell's ticket out of town after this season. But they said the same thing about Kyrie Irving ten years ago.

Jun 12, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) handles the ball against Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.
Jun 12, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) handles the ball against Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors. / Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A star Cavs guard is coming to the end of his contract. There are rumors he isn't satisfied with how the team is progressing. There are concerns about how he fits with his backcourt mate, another smallish ball handler. Cavs fans spend an entire season reading speculation about how he will never sign an extension, about how he is destined for this or that more glamorous market. Being from the New York area, everyone assumes the Knicks are at the front of the line.

And then, a couple of hours after players can agree to new deals, he signs a max extension. Oh, you thought we were talking about Donovan Mitchell. But Cavs fans have been here before. A decade ago, in fact, it was Kyrie Irving that we all thought was headed for the exit, only for Irving to sign a max extension minutes after the signing period opened.

Of course, a week or so later we learned that LeBron was coming back, and we all assumed that Kyrie had been privy to that information when he chose to re-sign, but at the time there was no reason to think Irving would commit to Cleveland long-term. After all, he had just been through the rookie season of Anthony Bennett, and the pairing of Irving and Dion Waiters in the backcourt was looking like a mistake, as well. On July 1, 2014, what reason did Irving have to think the future was bright in Cleveland?

If we knew then what we know now, maybe Irving knew James was coming. Maybe the fifth year of the contract and the extra money were enough to make him overlook other options. Or maybe this was one of those flaky Kyrie moves that we would all become accustomed to in later years. Back then, we didn't know Kyrie believed the earth was flat or that he would eventually decide life was better without LeBron, then walk out on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. But the guy who did all that goofy stuff in later years was no doubt already there in 2014. Maybe we just thought Kyrie was normal because he was playing next to Dion Waiters, which would make anyone seem sensible.

In any event, it all worked out, as two years later the Cavs were celebrating a title. The current Cavs team is far more talented that what surrounded Irving when he was making his decision, and LeBron is a free agent yet again, if you believe in deja vu. Will any of that be enough to persuade Donovan Mitchell to stick around? The good news is that if Mitchell turns down an extension, the Cavs will be able to recoup some value in a trade, an option which did not exist during the Irving saga. That, plus Darius Garland and Evan Mobley are a better foundation than Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett.

The point is, we don't know any more about Mitchell's intentions than we did about Irving's a decade ago. On the surface, though, it makes more sense for Mitchell to stick around than it did for Irving at the time.

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