In a trade nobody saw coming, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz in exchange for Lauri Markkanen, Ochair Agbaji, Collin Sexton, three unprotected first-round picks, and two pick swaps. The trade and details were first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
While Mitchell getting traded was not unexpected, Cleveland as the landing spot was something that nobody saw coming. Reactions across the league have already begun pouring in, with Mitchell and his new teammates amongst the first to chime in:
While fans will understandably read into this more than they should, former Cleveland Cavaliers legend LeBron James also shared his thoughts. In a Tweet shortly after the news broke, LeBron indicated that he is indeed a fan of this move for Cleveland:
As the league-wide reactions continue to pour in, fans are likely wondering what this means for the Cavaliers and Jazz. To begin, we’ll take a look at the most noteworthy team in this deal, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The future for Cleveland
When many believed the New York Knicks were best equipped to deal for Donovan Mitchell, the Cleveland Cavaliers were moving in silence towards a blockbuster deal. While the draft assets the Jazz parted ways with are significant, they will essentially be replacing Collin Sexton with Donovan Mitchell without any major subtractions from last year’s roster.
Lauri Markkanen was a starter for Cleveland last year, and played well at times, but his fit alongside Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen was always dependent on his ability to space the floor. After shooting a career-high 40.2% from deep in the 2020-21 season, Markkanen made just 35.8% of his three-point attempts last season, making his skillset a replaceable one for Cleveland.
Looking specifically at Mitchell, this is a player who does not just become available every offseason. A career 24 PPG scorer, which increases significantly to 28 PPG in the playoffs, Mitchell is one of the best scoring guards in basketball. When dropped on a Cleveland team that was ahead of schedule last season, there is no doubt that he will elevate them to a playoff lock.
While Cleveland may still be a piece away from competing with teams like Boston, Miami, Milwaukee, and maybe even Brooklyn, they have just given themselves a chance to enter that tier with some additional moves. Even without another big splash, Cleveland should find themselves in a spot to compete for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, which is something that seemed so far away after LeBron James left for the Lakers in 2019.
The future for Utah
After dealing their franchise cornerstones in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Utah Jazz have acquired a total of 13 unprotected or lightly protected picks through 2029. Without a big market draw, rebuilding via draft assets is essentially a requirement for teams like Utah. Whether used in other trades that bring back win-now talent, or used to select the next future star, draft choices are valued for a reason, and the Jazz now have quite a few.
Without any real major pieces to build around, it will lille be several years before the Utah Jazz are back in the playoffs. As previously mentioned, their market makes the rebuild process a lengthy one, as no major stars are likely headed to Utah. That said, the team has positioned themselves nicely for the future. Should one or two of their future picks land a star in the draft, several others picks can always be used to acquire another star via trade.