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Richard Jefferson: Donovan Mitchell got to make sure that he doesn’t turn into Dame Lillard

Photo: Donovan Mitchell/Twitter

The future trajectory of Donovan Mitchell with the Cleveland Cavaliers has become a topic of discussion as former NBA players Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye share their contrasting viewpoints on Mitchell’s role and potential extension with the team.

Speaking on the Road Trippin’ Show, Jefferson expressed his belief that Mitchell could sign an extension if the Cavaliers reach the conference finals.

Jefferson emphasized the need for Mitchell to evolve into a player who not only excels individually but also elevates his teammates’ performance. He suggested that Mitchell should focus on becoming a game manager, nurturing and elevating his colleagues, similar to how Michael Jordan did during his playing days.

“I think if they go to the conference finals, I could see that happening, and I think that they are definitely a conference finalist contender,” Jefferson said. “But I think Donovan has to raise his game. He’s got to make sure, in my opinion, I say this respectfully, that he doesn’t turn into Dame Lillard.

“Donovan’s got to make people around him better. He’s got to raise them. He’s got to nurture and elevate. No different than [Michael] Jordan elevated people. The only next step that Donovan can take: less of a volume shooter, more of a game manager and making people around him better.”

Frye, on the other hand, disagreed with Jefferson’s perspective. Frye indicated that it might be too late to expect Mitchell to drastically change his playing style to focus more on facilitating and passing.

“I kind of disagree,” he said. “I don’t know if right now at this age, he’s all of a sudden just going to turn into, like ‘Oh, let me pass some more. Let me do this’ right? We’re asking him when he’s elite at something, to go ‘Oh yeah, take this year and just work on this.'”

Since his trade to the Cavaliers in 2022, Mitchell has been a linchpin of the team’s lineup. In his debut season with Cleveland, the 26-year-old shooting guard averaged career-high 28.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in 35.8 minutes per game.

His performance significantly contributed to the Cavaliers securing a commendable fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference.

Despite his valuable contributions, speculation swirls around Mitchell’s likelihood of signing a contract extension with the Cavaliers. Some believe that there is zero chance that he signs an extension. His current contract extends through the 2025-26 season.

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