Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, amid a sophomore slump that followed a magnificent rookie year, said he was uncomfortable no longer being the underdog. Mitchell powered right through, becoming an All-Star last season and going on a historic scoring binge in the playoffs.
Good thing Mitchell has adjusted to elevated expectations.
Because they’re climbing even higher as he becomes a max player.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Utah Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell has agreed to a five-year, $195M designated rookie max extension, his agents Ty Sullivan and Austin Brown of @caa_sports tell ESPN. Story soon.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 22, 2020
Bobby Marks of ESPN:
Sources tell ESPN that Donovan Mitchell also has a player option after the fourth year of his rookie max extension.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) November 22, 2020
The exact amount of Mitchell’s extension won’t be determined until the salary cap is set next year, when the extension kicks in. The extension projects to be worth $163 million and would reach a $196 million projection only if Mitchell triggers the super-max.
He would do so by making an All-NBA team, winning MVP or winning Defensive Player of the Year next season. Which of those honors would qualify was a matter of negotiation between Mitchell and Utah.
Mitchell finished 10th among guards in All-NBA voting last season, falling short of the six All-NBA guard slots. As the 24-year-old enters his prime, he definitely could make an All-NBA team next year. It’s also possible making one would lift his salary above his production.
But that’s a risk worth taking for Utah (though the player option presents additional potential complications).
Mitchell is a dynamic offensive creator on a defensive-focused team. He can get to the rim, shoot from beyond the arc and find open teammates. Plus, he defends better than many other high-scoring guards. Without him, the Jazz’s system stagnates. His intangibles – joyous attitude, committed work ethic, focused competitiveness – provide even more value.
There had been some question about Mitchell’s future with Utah due to a rift that emerged between him and Rudy Gobert following their coronavirus diagnoses. But Mitchell and Gobert appeared to get on a better page in the bubble.
Besides, Mitchell is the franchise player and priority. Young players just don’t reject max extensions, either.
Gobert is eligible for his own super-max extension this offseason. He already met the criteria. Though he probably won’t get the maximum-allowable amount, Utah could still extend him and keep both its stars for the long haul.