After the Utah Jazz's Game 6 loss to the LA Clippers, questions arose regarding the team's offseason goals and, specifically, Donovan Mitchell. The Jazz's talisman, despite putting up great numbers and playing through injury, had to watch his team get eliminated from the playoffs.
The Utah Jazz had the best regular season record in the league and were the best home team in the NBA. They held the three longest win streaks in the league this season and were the first team to cross the 50-win mark in a shortened 72-game season.
The unbelievable collapse in Games 5 and 6 has left fans angry and dissatisfied with the coach and organization. Although Mike Conley was injured for the majority of the series and Mitchell wasn't his former All-Star self, losing a must-win game to the Kawhi Leonard-less LA Clippers was shocking.
Now, as the Utah Jazz enter the offseason, hashtags such as #FreeDonovanMitchell are trending and people are inquiring when the young star is entering free agency.
Donovan Mitchell is not entering NBA free agency anytime soon
The 24-year-old star, Donovan Mitchell signed a five-year rookie max extension in the past offseason potentially worth $195 million. He is tied up with the franchise until the 2024-25 NBA season and has a player option the year after that in the 2025-26 NBA season.
Mitchell, who is still on his rookie deal, will earn just $5 million this season and his extension kicks in next year. He will earn a salary of $28,103,550 in the 2021-22 NBA season, $30,351,834 in 2022-23, $32,600,118 in 2023-24 and then $34,848,402 in the final year of his deal in 2024-25.
As mentioned earlier, he holds a player option worth $37,096,686 for the 2025-26 NBA season and if he opts out, that is the soonest he'll enter free agency.
Donovan Mitchell is the face of the franchise and the heart and soul of this Utah Jazz team. Although they suffered a disappointing exit in the postseason, he did lead his team to the best record in the rugged and competitive Western Conference and many would agree he is just getting started.
Famous NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith said he believes Donovan Mitchell is the best player in the history of the Utah Jazz. While suggesting that a 24-year-old player with no accolades is better than Karl Malone or John Stockton is a humungous stretch, it does go to show the stardust that Mitchell leaves behind.
Malone is the second-highest all-time scoring leader in the NBA and Stockton is the all-time leader in assists and steals, so it is obvious that Donovan Mitchell isn't there yet. But it shows that there are people willing to consider that he might one day be the best player in franchise history.
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The Utah Jazz need to focus on their offseason and upgrade their roster around Donovan Mitchell, and there's a huge chance he can lead them to a maiden NBA Championship sooner rather than later.