The Cleveland Cavaliers managed to pull off their most pressing order of business in this year’s offseason when they agreed to a three-year, $150.3 million extension with star guard Donovan Mitchell. Many pundits and league insiders believed that Mitchell wasn’t long for the Cavs, but the 27-year old shooting guard saw the value in staying in Cleveland after helping them become an established playoff team.

Cavs president of basketball operations Koby Altman expressed just how important Mitchell is to the franchise and how big of a moment it is for them to secure his services for at least until the end of the 2026-27 season in a statement following the team’s official announcement of the extension.

“Signing Donovan Mitchell to an extension serves as a pivotal moment for our franchise and reinforces our vision and goals for sustainable success. Donovan is one of the most dynamic All-NBA players in the league and we couldn’t be more excited that he chose Cleveland and this community to continue his basketball journey,” Altman said, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

“We want to align ourselves with the best teams in the NBA and ultimately compete for championships, and we feel securing Donovan long-term provides us that opportunity.”

It may not have been a disaster for the Cavs had Donovan Mitchell refused to sign an extension; after all, Mitchell was under contract for one more season and he would have been a likely trade candidate, hence possibly netting the Cavs back a few quality assets. Moreover, the Cavs have a nice young duo of Evan Mobley and Darius Garland, not to mention the always-solid Jarrett Allen.

However, Mitchell ups the Cavs’ ceiling of contention, and Koby Altman is right in that Cleveland’s only way of perhaps breaking through in the league’s group of true elites is for Spida to stay — which he’ll be doing at least until 2027.

Remembering the Cavs’ 2022 trade for Donovan Mitchell

The Cavs became one of the league’s most exciting young teams during the 2021-22 season, with Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen blossoming into All-Stars and Evan Mobley shattering expectations in his rookie campaign.

However, that Cavs team failed to make the playoffs after a late-season decline. Sensing that a playoff berth was on the horizon, they traded away Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji, three first-round picks, and two pick swaps in exchange for Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell has never missed the playoffs for his career, as his elite scoring ways has been at the heart of the Utah Jazz’s contending exploits from 2018 to 2022. Quickly, Mitchell showed how he can elevate the Cavs team. He put up 28 points per game on 48/39/87 shooting splits as he led the Cavs to a 51-win season, which was more than enough for the team’s first playoff berth in the post-LeBron James era.

Alas, the Cavs lost in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs, and the 2023-24 season was full of ups and downs that the excitement surrounding the team has simmered down. Mitchell missed his most number of games in a single season during the 2023-24 campaign (with 27), and the Cavs found themselves closer to the pack than to the top of the league’s totem pole.

Nonetheless, despite winning three fewer games than in the 2022-23 season, the Cavs still made the second round of the playoffs, and they may have put up a better fight against the eventual champion Boston Celtics had injuries not continued to decimate their team.

If Donovan Mitchell had been traded, the Cavs may have found themselves in the play-in tournament discussion. (This depends, of course, on what the Cavs would have gotten back.) But with Mitchell’s signature secured, the Cavs should be among the favorites for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference yet again.

Spida squashes rumors of an exit

Rumors of an eventual departure have followed Donovan Mitchell ever since the Cavs acquired him in 2022. Insiders believed that Mitchell was eventually going to move on to a bigger-market team, with the New York Knicks being the most commonly-linked team to him.

Perhaps Mitchell was a viable target for the Knicks back in 2022 before Jalen Brunson established himself as a legitimate superstar and not just a flash in the pan. But a Mitchell-Brunson backcourt fit was always going to be iffy, and the Knicks have instead decided to stock up on the best wings in the NBA.

Of course, come 2026 or 2027, the noise surrounding a Donovan Mitchell exit will be deafening once more. But the Cavs are trying to make sure that they reach their goal of hoisting another championship before then.