Why Donovan Mitchell’s new contract with Utah Jazz is NBA’s most significant signing

Donovan Mitchell, left, in action for Utah Jazz against Gary Harris of the Denver Nuggets. Picture: Kevin C Cox/Getty ImagesDonovan Mitchell, left, in action for Utah Jazz against Gary Harris of the Denver Nuggets. Picture: Kevin C Cox/Getty Images
Donovan Mitchell, left, in action for Utah Jazz against Gary Harris of the Denver Nuggets. Picture: Kevin C Cox/Getty Images
With the NBA season a week away, things are starting to heat up for basketball fans.

Over the weekend free agency began, although a lot of the early movement had already been public knowledge, it was on the back of the NBA draft.

Of course, the draft is an idea we have little time for on these shores, but this tends to be a big moment for all basketball fans as the direction of their franchise could change with the addition of a key youngster for at least four years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The big talking points of this year’s draft were, of course, around the top of the first round. Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a smaller set of positions and as such a smaller field of transcendent talent entering the league each year.

The first pick of the draft went to the Minnesota Timberwolves and in a world increasingly devoid of secrets they managed to play their cards incredibly close to their chest. The Timberwolves selected 6ft 3in shooting guard Anthony Edwards, a player who fits nicely with the current stars D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Another memorable moment from the draft was the selection of LaMelo Ball by the Charlotte Hornets.

Ball follows his brother Lonzo, who was drafted number two overall in 2017, into the NBA as the first brothers to be drafted in the top five of the draft.

As mentioned previously, the draft can be a momentum shifter for organisations who haven’t performed in the upper echelons of the NBA, but more than that it can secure the future of a franchise if teams can hang on to players.

That’s why despite the draft and free agency opening up I believe the biggest news comes out of Utah.

Back in the 1990s, the Utah Jazz were the best team in the West, regularly challenging at the top of the basketball mountain, despite being from a small market.

Back then the team were only prevented from winning multiple NBA titles by Michael Jordan and the Bulls during their dominant period. As the last century ended the team settled into peaks and troughs with the occasional playoff appearance.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Jazz are about to take over in a $1.7 billion deal which will see local tech billionaire and long-time fan Ryan Smith take a majority share in the team.

It’s believed Smith’s mentality fits with the changes in Salt Lake during the last four years where a shift in attitude has coincided with a series of investments from current owner Gail Miller, including a new state of the art training facility. Miller and the ownership team were aware that to attract and keep top players the organisation needed to offer something to compete with the bright lights of bigger cities.

The team switched focus to making Utah the home of basketball improvement, adding a new coach in Quin Snyder and started taking players they believed could be part of a unit, after all, they are called the Jazz after the dictionary definition “collective improvisation”.

In his six years, Quinn has guided the team to 482 wins and four playoff appearances.

So what's the news?

The Utah Jazz made another big step forward in their progress when they agreed to a five-year extension with All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell was drafted in 2017 by the Nuggets before being traded seven picks later and has been a catalyst for the Jazz.

In his three seasons, Mitchell has improved in his defensive stats while maintaining his high offensive output. In last season’s playoffs Mitchell posted two 50-point games in a series with Denver, joining an elite group that includes just Jordan and Allen Iverson.

But Mitchell more than anything has become a team player, someone who puts the collective over his own glory, a trait that Jazz value more than any other.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

So despite the draft and free agency, the most significant signing so far has been Mitchell’s five-year $195 million contract extension that shows the Utah Jazz are here to compete, and that they can attract and keep star players in Salt Lake, and maybe even win that first championship.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

Related topics:



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.