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Looking Back at the Donovan Mitchell Trade

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In September of 2022, the Cleveland Cavaliers made a blockbuster trade to acquire all-star Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz. Shocking the NBA world, the move made it clear that Cleveland’s vision was to win now. It’s been nearly two years since the trade, so let’s take a look at its impact on both teams right now.

Looking Back at the Donovan Mitchell Trade

Cavaliers Acquired

  • Donovan Mitchell

Jazz Acquired

Looking at it now, the Cavs gave up a lot, there’s no way around that. However, it has been pretty clear the trade is a win-win. Mitchell has been an all-star in each of his two seasons in Cleveland while averaging 27.5 points, 5.2 assists, and 4.6 rebounds to go along with 1.6 steals a game. On the Jazz side, Lauri Markkanen has morphed into an all-star while winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2023 and the Jazz are one of the brightest up-and-coming teams in the NBA.

Trade Impact On Cavs

The Cavs’ plan was clear when they made the move for Mitchell. Win now. Cleveland had just come off a year of making the NBA’s inaugural Play-in tournament, and finally having a good year in the second post-Lebron era. Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen were all-stars for the Cavs and Evan Mobley finished on the All-rookie first team.

When the Cavs traded for Mitchell, the idea was to pair him and Garland together to create an elite backcourt to go along with their two bigs in Mobley and Allen. In 2022-23 the guard duo averaged 49.9 points together and led the Cavs to a 51-31 regular season record. However, this past season, saw a decline from Garland as he averaged just 18 points, his lowest since his sophomore season. As a team, however, Cleveland won a playoff series for the first time since 2018, but that just isn’t enough to be defined as a successful season. Mitchell and the Cavs got a taste of success and they’re hungry for more next season. Due to this, the Cavs will undergo some change this summer after head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was let go in May, despite his most successful season in Cleveland.

The Cavs have yet to feel the effects of the Mitchell trade. Starting next year, they won’t control their first-round selection for the next four years. However, the Cavs own their pick in this year’s upcoming draft and will still have first-round picks in 2026 and 2028. Regardless of the draft capital they used on Mitchell, it was worth it as of now.

Mitchell has brought winning back to Cleveland, since his arrival, attendance in Cleveland has increased over five percent from 2022 and the Cavs are nearly selling out their arena on a nightly basis. Donovan Mitchell is an otherworldly player and has been elite since he arrived in 2022. He is arguably the second-best player to ever play for the Cavaliers, whatever success the Cavs have in the next few years it’ll be with Mitchell.

Mitchell Extension

But still, rumors have been swirling since the beginning of the 2023-24 season about the future of Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell, with one year remaining on his current deal, is eligible for a four-year, 208.5 million dollar deal this summer. From all reports, Mitchell is ‘happy’ in Cleveland and will resign. But what if he doesn’t?

This would make this deal an absolute failure for Cavs GM Koby Altman. Unless the Cavs win a championship in 2025, as of now they have won just one playoff series and seen regression from their former all-star in Garland. Losing Mitchell for nothing in the 2025 offseason would mean losing three impactful players and four years of draft capital for just one playoff series win. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case for Altman and Co.

Trade Impact On Jazz

After the Jazz moved Rudy Gobert in 2022, it was just a matter of time before they traded Mitchell. It was obvious it was time to start a rebuild, they had just fired head coach Quin Snyder and hired Will Hardy to replace him opting for a younger approach. When Mitchell was dealt expectations were pretty low in Utah, they knew they had talent but still, hopes were not very high.

Yet, in the 2022-23 season, the Jazz shocked a lot of people. They finished 12th in the Western conference at 37-45. Lauri Markkanen blossomed into a star, while their younger players like Collin Sexton and Walker Kessler gave solid minutes. It was the best-case scenario for the Jazz. Remain a lottery team, while developing young talent. This past year, wasn’t as successful after Markkanen went down with an injury, however, the future is certainly bright for the Jazz.

The Mitchell trade allowed the Jazz to find out what they had. Hardy has done a great job of playing his youth. Unfortunately, it seems like Ochai Agbaji was a miss as he was traded to the Toronto Raptors. However, the Jazz coach will have a lot more young players joining his team in the next five years with the amount of draft capital the Jazz own, from both the Mitchell and Gobert deals. With Markkanen as the star the Jazz will have enough to start competing for the playoffs as soon as this upcoming season. An immensely impressive job by both GM Justin Zanik and CEO Danny Ainge.

There are not many blockbuster trades in the NBA that are seen as win-wins, but both Cleveland and Utah feel pretty good about the deal almost two years afterward.


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