After the New York Knicks temporarily walked out of talks Monday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers aggressively pursued and acquired three-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell in a trade with the Utah Jazz on Thursday, the team announced Saturday.
The Cavaliers sent Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, rookie winger Ochai Agbaji, guard Collin Sexton, three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027 and 2029) and two pick swaps (2026 and 2028) for Mitchell.
Sexton has agreed to a four-year, $72 million sign-and-trade deal to join the Jazz, his agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, told ESPN.
The deal turns the Cavaliers into an Eastern Conference contender with potential staying power and adds Mitchell to a lineup that includes two 2022 All-Stars – guard Darius Garland and center Jarrett Allen – and Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley, who seems destined to be an All-NBA player.
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) September 1, 2022
As Utah reshapes its roster with offseason trades from All-Star Rudy Gobert and now Mitchell, the franchise has 13 unprotected or slightly protected first-round picks through 2029 and two 2022 first-round picks, including Kansas’ Agbaji and Walker Kessler, who is with four first-round picks from Minnesota.
Utah plans to continue talks about offloading veterans, including Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson and Mike Conley, and could be closer to an Oklahoma City-like transport of draft assets.
Koby Altman, president of Cleveland’s basketball operations, was in talks with the Jazz until late last week, but ended talks on Friday when the two teams failed to reach an agreement, sources said. Nonetheless, Altman reached out again Tuesday morning to Utah general manager Justin Zanik and resumed talks, sources said. Within 48 hours they had a deal for Mitchell.
New York had the assets Utah preferred and the sides appeared closer to a deal Sunday night and Monday, but the Knicks refused to include Quentin Grimes in a deal with RJ Barrett to acquire Mitchell, sources said.
When guard Immanuel Quickley was suggested as Grimes’ replacement in trade, Utah wanted three unprotected first-round draft picks as part of the package — but New York would only make a third first-round pick that included the top-five protections. sources said. Those packages would have included Milwaukee’s 2025 first-round pick, two second-round picks, two pick swaps and two expiring third-team contracts, sources said. New York would have moved Evan Fournier and a first-round pick to a third team to save Utah from taking on Fournier’s remaining $37 million, sources said.
New York and Utah discussed numerous iterations of a Mitchell trade, including a significant initial bid from the Knicks in early July, before Mitchell Robinson signed his contract extension. Just before talks began in early July, New York offered a package that would have included Barrett, Obi Toppin, Robinson and three unprotected first-round picks, sources told ESPN. Utah turned down that offer, and Robinson signed his extension, essentially eliminating the possibility of becoming part of a deal.
During trade talks with Utah, New York President Leon Rose held parallel negotiations with Barrett’s agent Bill Duffy for a rookie contract extension, setting Monday night as a deadline with Jazz to strike a deal — or pause talks to finalize it a new deal with Barrett, sources said. Barrett’s deal — four years and worth up to $120 million, Duffy told ESPN — added a “poison pills” clause to his contract through next July and would have forced the Knicks and Jazz to end talks with new deal parameters resume on the basis of the contract extension.
New York planned to pursue Mitchell further, sources said, but the Jazz turned to the Cleveland discussions and never engaged the Knicks in talks again this week, sources said. The Knicks had taken a calculated risk that they could still make a deal for Mitchell. Born in the New York area, Mitchell was excited at the opportunity to play for the Knicks, sources said.
Mitchell became available in trade talks after the Jazz traded Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves in July. Mitchell, 25, has averaged 23.9 points and 4.5 assists per game during his five-year career with Jazz and has been an All-Star for each of the past three seasons. He has four years and $134.9 million left in the maximum extension he signed in the 2020 offseason, though the final season is a $37.1 million player option.
Utah has made the playoffs for the past six seasons, the longest current streak in the Western Conference, but has not progressed past the second round in that span. The organization has seen major changes since last season’s first round elimination against the Dallas Mavericks, including the resignation of coach Quin Snyder, the hiring of Will Hardy as a backup, and the trades of Gobert and starting forward Royce O’Neale.