Jalen Rose Doesn’t See Mitchell Staying In Utah Long Term
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – ESPN basketball analyst Jalen Rose said he’s not fully convinced Donovan Mitchell will sign a long term contract with the Utah Jazz. In an appearance on NBA Countdown on ESPN, Rose said he wasn’t sure Mitchell would ink a long extension like fellow members of the 2017 draft class.
“When I look at the 2017 draft, the other max caliber players are Jayson Tatum, and Bam Adebayo,” Rose said. “I see their futures with those teams. I don’t necessarily see that with Donovan Mitchell in Utah.”
Mitchell is eligible to sign a max extension with the Jazz this upcoming offseason, However, the deal won’t go into effect until the summer of 2021.
“Don’t be surprised if when it’s time for all those other guys to get extensions, he doesn’t sign one,” Rose said. “I don’t know if he’s there long term to be their best player.”
The Jazz can offer Mitchell a contract worth 25 percent of the salary cap over the next five seasons. In total, the offer will far exceed $150 million between 2021 and 2026.
What Are Mitchell Options?
Contrary to Rose’s beliefs, the idea that Mitchell would sign for anything less than a max extension is far fetched. If the All-Star guard opts against signing an extension with the Jazz this summer, he risks losing any or all of his future deal should he suffer a serious injury next season.
Even if Mitchell were to opt against signing an extension this offseason, he wouldn’t then become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2021. Instead, Mitchell would become a restricted free agent, and the Jazz could choose to match any contract he got on the open market. This is what the Jazz did with Gordon Hayward in 2014, more on that later.
Sign a One Year Qualifying Offer
Should Mitchell truly decide he wants out of Utah, he has two options. First, he could choose next summer to sign what is called a one-year qualifying offer. Mitchell would sign a one year deal to remain in Utah, earning in the vicinity of $5 million for one season, and would hit unrestricted free-agency in 2022.
The advantage for Mitchell in that scenario is that he could choose to sign with any team that had the salary cap room to offer him a maximum value contract. The downside for the guard is that he’d risk playing two more seasons without a long term financial guarantee. Additionally, there’s no guarantee Mitchell would make back the roughly $20 million in salary he would lose during the 2021-22 season. It’s far more difficult for players to make up that large of a number by extending their contract on the back end of their career than it is when they are young and entering their prime.
Request a Trade
The next and far more likely option is that Mitchell could quietly, or not so quietly request a trade from the Jazz, regardless of his contractual status. As has become a trend with stars in the NBA, Mitchell could simply tell the Jazz he’s unhappy in Utah and would prefer to play elsewhere. While the Jazz couldn’t be forced to trade him, future relationships with players, player agents, and the overall health of the franchise traditionally favors trading an unhappy player.
While the Jazz would far prefer to keep Mithell in Utah for the foreseeable future, Mitchell requesting at trade is a preferable option to signing a qualifying offer, or simply submarining a franchise by bringing a bad attitude to the court, while looking elsewhere for his next contract in the future.
After a mediocre 2013-14 season, the Jazz front office opted to allow Hayward to go find the largest deal he could on the restricted free agent market. The Jazz fully planned to match any deal Hayward was presented with but gambled that he couldn’t find a max offer, hoping they could resign him to a smaller number.
Ultimately, Hayward signed a max offer sheet from the Charlotte Hornets, which the Jazz gladly matched. Though Hayward played well during his time in Utah, he admitted that the Jazz toying with his future left a bad taste in his mouth, which may have caused him to leave the Jazz for Boston in free agency.
As a result, and the fact that Mitchell is a far superior player at the same age, the Jazz won’t force Mitchell to find a contract on the restricted market.
Had Hayward demanded a trade, as Mitchell could, the Jazz would have gotten a handsome ransom in return for the All-Star forward. Instead, the Jazz were left empty-handed in the summer of 2017.
Other Players Weigh In On Mitchell and Rose
Los Angeles Lakers forward Jared Dudley responded to the video of Rose circulating Twitter. The longtime NBA veteran argued against Rose’s thoughts, though he didn’t rule out Mitchell leaving Utah.
“you always take the max money and get out year 7,” Dudley tweeted. “5-year max deal with an opt-out after 3. [Restricted Free Agency] is the worst thing for NBA players. Teams can’t bid against each other.”
While Mitchell could request a player option in his contract extension, they are somewhat rare on second contracts. Furthermore, the Jazz could request a team option on the final year of Mitchell’s deal, which would lower the guaranteed money the guard could bank on through 2026. As a result, those bargaining chips can be used to cancel one another out to guarantee that Mitchell is in Utah for the full five seasons.
Should the All-Star guard opt to sign a deal shorter than five years, as Deron Williams did in 2008, the Jazz could see the writing on the wall that Mitchell doesn’t plan to be in Utah for the long term, and trade him at an earlier date. Again, Mitchell would risk more than $25 million in guaranteed money for each year he shaves off of his deal.
Luckily for the Jazz, Mitchell and the franchise appear to have a good relationship with one another. The Jazz have made significant financial investments around the guard and will continue to build the roster around his talents. In turn, Mitchell has never made discouraging comments about the franchise, nor indicated he’d prefer to play elsewhere.
Regardless of what Rose thinks about the future of Mitchell, all indicators point to the young guard inking a long term extension with the Jazz in the coming months.