CLEVELAND (AP) — With a bold, unexpected move, the Cleveland Cavaliers have raised their profile in the Eastern Conference.
You’re back in the title hunt.
The Cavs officially acquired three-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell in a trade with Utah on Saturday and can begin finding ways to best integrate his talents into their young core.
Considered underdogs to land the dynamic player for much of this offseason, the Cavs rushed in and put together a package the Jazz, who had offers from several other teams, couldn’t resist.
- Collin Kuester
- Lauri Markkanen
- Ochai Agbaji
- 2025 first round selection
- 2026 selection swap
- 2027 first round selection
- 2028 selection swap
- 2029 first round selection
Cleveland sent guard Collin Sexton, forward Lauri Markkanen and rookie guard Ochai Agbaji to Utah along with unprotected first-round draft picks in 2025, 2027 and 2029. The teams will also trade their first-round draft rights in 2026 and 2028.
Sexton, who was a restricted free agent, signed a four-year, $72 million deal as part of the package, his agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports said The Associated Press on Thursday.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) September 3, 2022
The addition of Mitchell has at least gotten the Cavs into the conversation to fight in the congested East, where Boston, Brooklyn, Miami, Milwaukee and Philadelphia are all considered championship-worthy.
“The acquisition of Donovan Mitchell gave us an incredible opportunity to bring one of the NBA’s most dynamic young All-Stars to Cleveland,” said Koby Altman, the Cavaliers’ president of basketball operations. “Already a distinct and proven talent at just 25 years old, Donovan brings a competitive mentality that fits organically with the core group of this team.
“We’re excited to see the impact someone of Donovan’s caliber can have on the Cavaliers, with his ability to score basketball but also make plays for his teammates.”
Massive roster cuts continue for Utah. The Mitchell deal is the second big one this summer. Utah also brought all-star center and defensive end Rudy Gobert to Minnesota in July for a string of draft picks.
It wasn’t long ago that the Mitchell-Gobert tandem made the Jazz a feared team in the Western Conference. Now Utah is starting over with a new coach and at least 13 first-round picks over the next seven years.
Cleveland, which had a 22-win team two years ago, is rebuilding for a franchise that got used to winning when LeBron James was around. Mitchell might have been the missing piece.
The 25-year-old gives Cleveland the megastar it takes to win it all. A fearless driver, explosive goalscorer and creator, Mitchell is a player who gives me the ball when times get tough and who improves his game and that of his teammates.
He could also be the elder statesman in a proposed starting lineup with all-star point guard Darius Garland (22), all-star center Jarrett Allen (24), forward Evan Mobley (21) and Isaac Okoro (21).
We need to watch you light up the league as a rookie and cheer you on as you become a perennial All-Star.
We have seen you embrace and serve our community while standing up for what is right and uniting jazz fans everywhere.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) September 3, 2022
While the Cavs improved their overall wins by 22 games last season and qualified for the play-in game, their biggest flaws were having nobody to consistently score and a stagnant offense.
The Cavs attempted to address the situation by trading small forward Caris LeVert by deadline date in February. However, he was slowed down by injury and struggled to fit into coach JB Bickerstaff’s system.
Mitchell has averaged 23.9 points over his five pro seasons and will play alongside Garland, who has improved across the board in his third year. It’s a smaller backcourt — both Mitchell and Garland are listed at 6-foot-1 — so there could be some defensive issues, but with Allen and Mobley on patrol, the Cavs have proven rim protection.
Cleveland hasn’t made the playoffs since James left for a second time in 2018, ending the Cavs’ four-year run to the Finals. They were patient in setting things in motion to get another shot at a title.
Mitchell brings them closer to you.