SALT LAKE CITY — With red, tear-stained eyes, the hurt of a crushing Game 7 loss still fresh, Donovan Mitchell made a proclamation: "This is just the beginning, man. This is just the beginning. And I'm ready to go hoop again right now."
And he'll be hooping in Utah for the foreseeable future. Mitchell agreed to a five-year extension with the Utah Jazz on Sunday, a source confirmed to KSL.com. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the deal is guaranteed for $163 million and could increase to $195 million if Mitchell makes an All-NBA Team next season. The extension will kick in at the start of the 2021-22 season, keeping Mitchell under contract in Utah for the next six years.
Any doubts that Mitchell was worth such a hefty payday was answered in the first round of the playoffs this year. He averaged 36.3 points while shooting 51% from 3-point range, five assists and five rebounds. He had two 50-point games and a third where he went over 40.
Yes, the Jazz lost the series, but Mitchell proved he was truly a star. And now he'll be getting paid like it.
The deal is a reward for what he has already done during his time in Utah. He helped the Jazz quickly recover after losing All-Star Gordon Hayward in free agency in 2017, and has led the Jazz to the playoffs in each of his first three years in the league. The new contract is also based on a projection of where the organization thinks Mitchell can go.
Mitchell has gotten more efficient and more productive each year he's been in the league. Last season, he averaged a career-high 24 points on career-high shooting numbers. He also averaged career-highs in assists (4.3) and rebounds (4.4) as he made his first All-Star team.
Head coach Quin Snyder noted Mitchell's improvement reading the game, something that was clearly seen during the first round of the playoffs when he had full control of the Jazz offense. And if that's the Mitchell the Jazz get night in and night out, he'll be worth any dollar amount the Jazz can give him.
And if you ask Mitchell, he's got more in him.
"I can't lie to you, I kind of was surprised a little of the things that I've done and accomplished," Mitchell said following the playoffs. "But there's nothing I haven't worked on. There were criticisms of what I could do on the offensive and defensive end, and I feel like I've took a step in that right direction. This isn't the last of it. This is me scratching the surface.
"I know what I can do; I know what I worked for. I know how hard I work, and I know how hard this team has worked, And this won't be the end of it, and that's really what's fueling me — because this ain't the end."
His teammates agree. It didn't take long for Jordan Clarkson, who the Jazz re-signed when free agency opened up on Friday after trading for him last December, to realize how special Mitchell was as a player and as a teammate. The Jazz also brought back Derrick Favors after spending last season with the New Orleans Pelicans.
"He's going to go on and lead a team to hopefully a championship one day," Clarkson said. "He's just done a great job as a leader; and him being emotional and seeing all that, that's because you have big games, you put it all out there on the line, laid it out there every time we played. He stuck with us and stayed with us and it's the best sign I've seen as a leader."
A leader that is going to be sticking around for a while.
The Jazz are also trying to get an extension done for Rudy Gobert, who is entering the final year of his contract. Due to winning two Defensive Player of the Year awards and getting an All-NBA nod, Gobert is eligible to receive a supermax extension. Such an extension would pay him roughly $247.3 million over five seasons. Utah, though, isn't expected to offer the full supermax to the All-Star center, but Gobert should still be in line for a hefty raise.