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Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert believes All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell will sign long-term extension

DETROIT (AP) — Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert believes All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell will sign a long-term contract to chase an NBA championship with Cleveland.

“We’ve been talking to him, sure, for the last couple of years about extending this contract,” Gilbert said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press. “We think he will extend. I think if you listen to him talk, he loves the city.

"He loves the situation in Cleveland because our players are very young and we’re just kind of putting the core together that he’s clearly the biggest part of.”

Mitchell signed a five-year, $163 million contract in 2020 with Utah and is under contract through the 2026 season. Based on the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, Mitchell is eligible to sign a four-year extension worth up to roughly $200 million this summer.

Cleveland acquired him in a blockbuster trade shortly before the 2022-23 season. The team viewed him as perhaps the final piece to contend for an NBA championship by leading young stars Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

The 27-year-old Mitchell is averaging a team-high 27.4 points along with 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds while also leading Cavs off the court. However, he has been limited to 49 games due to injuries and hasn't played since March 16.

Mitchell missed his sixth straight game Wednesday night, a disappointing loss to lowly Charlotte, dropping the Cavs to 11-13 without him. He may return this week. The Cavs host Philadelphia on Friday.

Mitchell has often stated he likes playing in Cleveland and sees potential in a team with flaws but plenty of promise.

Cleveland returned to the playoffs a year ago, but the Cavs were eliminated in the first round by the New York Knicks in five games. Adding to the defeat is that it came against the team Mitchell grew up rooting for and with whom he’s been long linked.

Of course, the Cavs have gone down this path before with LeBron James, who left as a free agent in 2010 before returning after four seasons in Miami to lead Cleveland to the 2016 title — the first major championship for a Cleveland team since 1964.

Despite a rash of injuries to key players, the Cavs (44-29) have managed to stay among the East's top teams. But a recent slide has put them fourth in the standings and they're currently fourth, just 3 1/2 games out of a play-in spot with a rough schedule ahead.

Gilbert has been pleased with the team overall and praised coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who has been publicly criticized.

"We really compete with pretty much anybody in the East,” Gilbert said, sitting in Gilly’s Clubhouse and Rooftop in downtown Detroit, a venture inspired by his late son, Nick Gilbert.

“Boston has taken a huge lead, best team in the league. But if you look at the second, third, fourth seed and look at us, we can compete with anybody and we've proven that during the season.”

Gilbert, who built much of his fortune through Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage, acquired the Cavaliers from Gordon Gund in 2005 for a reported $375 million. Nearly three years ago, he bought Gund’s remaining 15% minority share in the franchise.

The 62-year-old Gilbert had a stroke in 2019.

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AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA