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Patrick Kinahan: Will market envy drive Mitchell out of Utah?

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, right goes past Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson during an NBA game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, right goes past Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson during an NBA game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021. (Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY β€” Apparently, if national reports eventually prove correct, Donovan Mitchell may have big-time plans that don't include playing for the Utah Jazz.

Speculation persists Mitchell could have market-size envy and prefer to continue his stellar basketball career in a much larger city. The ongoing narrative was exasperated with the recent release of the initial NBA all-star voting, which saw Mitchell listed as seventh in the west, three spots behind Klay Thompson, who had not played in a game until earlier this week.

"There is, I'm going to say, at least speculation around the league that market size might matter to him," ESPN reporter Tim MacMahon said on a podcast with colleague Brian Windhorst.

The superstar's future will unfold in time, with him either building upon his already solid foundation with the Jazz or running off to the brighter lights of a location such as New York City, near where he was born. He holds all the cards.

Here's the basic choice: Become a franchise pillar in the manner of John Stockton and Karl Malone, two NBA legends, or follow the path that has become routine, if not boring, in the NBA.

The self-anointed chosen one, LeBron James, began the run on joining forces with other star players to win championships. Kevin Durant did the same, leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder for the loaded Golden State Warriors to get his two championships.

Expect a long line to land Mitchell if he desires to leave the franchise that made a draft-day trade to get him. The 25-year-old possesses the game and charisma to make any management metaphorically sell its soul to bring him aboard.

But consider the plight of Gordon Hayward, who bided his time with the Jazz before bolting. He had stars in his eyes and thought Utah was beneath him, forsaking the organization that developed him into an all-star.

His stint with the Boston Celtics never quite panned out, in part due to a serious injury. He's now with the Charlotte Hornets, likely never coming close to what he was building with the Jazz.

Mitchell has a chance to belong in the conversation with Stockton and Malone, two first-ballot Hall of Fame players, as the greatest to ever play with the franchise. Outspoken on social issues, he also could carry a louder voice in Utah rather than getting drowned out as one of many in the big city.

Either way, more fame and more fortune will find him.

In the first year of a five-year contract that guarantees $163 million and could be worth $195 million, depending on certain requirements, Mitchell will make $28.1 million this year. The contract he agreed to last season is the maximum allowable for players coming off their original rookie deal.

Practically before the ink was even dry on his current contract, Mitchell's future with the Jazz was called into question. ESPN reported last year that new minority owner Dwayne Wade was concerned Mitchell would want out.

"The Jazz do everything they possibly can to make Donovan Mitchell happy," MacMahon said. "From bringing in his mentor Dwayne Wade as part of the ownership group to every move they make from their front office on down to the 15th man on the roster, travel plans, whatever. Donovan Mitchell is front of mind."

From the local perspective, MacMahon is spot-on with his assessment. Jazz management have gone to great lengths to cater to Mitchell, even as some in the organization also have speculated on his eventual departure.

Addressing Mitchell's future recently, coach Quin Snyder took an overall approach rather than speak on an individual level.

"I think all of us feel good being a part of this organization," he said. "It's one of the best organizations in the league from ownership to management to our players. So I know for myself as a coach, I feel lucky to be a part of the Jazz."

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About the Author: Patrick Kinahan

Patrick Kinahan is a radio host for 97.5/1280 The Zone and the Zone Sports Network. He, along with David James, are on the air Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. To read more of his articles, visit Patrick's KSL.com author page.

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