Donovan Mitchell traded to Cleveland Cavaliers
Woah! Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, Collin Sexton (via sign-and-trade), three unprotected first-round picks and two pick swaps, ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski was first to report Thursday.
Per Woj, the picks traded in the deal are Cleveland’s 2025, 2027 and 2029 first-round picks, along with swaps in 2026 and 2028.
For those keeping score at home, Jazz general manager Danny Ainge has extracted 11 first-round picks (outright + swaps) from trading Mitchell, Rudy Gobert (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Royce O’Neale (Brooklyn Nets) this offseason alone. Here they are:
- 2023 (least favorable of HOU, BKN, PHI)
- 2023 (MIN)
- 2025 (MIN)
- 2025 (CLE)
- 2026 (CLE swap)
- 2026 (MIN swap)
- 2027 (MIN)
- 2027 (CLE)
- 2028 (CLE swap)
- 2029 (MIN)
- 2029 (CLE)
Per The Athletic‘s Shams Charania, Sexton’s new sign-and-trade contract for the Jazz will be a four-year, $72 million deal.
Thus, the Jazz will be hard-capped for the remainder of the league year — meaning they cannot exceed the projected ~$157 million tax-apron threshold until next offseason — even though they weren’t expected to near that mark anyways given their current roster.
This certainly comes as a shocker to the NBA world, as the two-most rumored destinations for Mitchell were also teams in the East: The New York Knicks — the favorite, given Mitchell’s family ties to New York — and the Miami Heat.
The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 25.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists last season, shooting 53.3 percent from 2-point range, 35.5 percent from distance and 85.3 percent from the charity stripe — recording a career-best 57.2 true-shooting percentage.
Mitchell has also been one of the most fearsome playoff scorers of this generation, albeit a small sample. In 39 career playoff games, he’s posted 28.3 points — the fourth-highest mark among active players (min. 20 playoff games), behind only Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant and LeBron James — on 43.1/36.5/86.5 (55.8 TS%) shooting splits.
Now, the three-time All-Star Mitchell gets paired with All-Star guard Darius Garland, forming a very lethal 1-2 punch offensively. In addition, he will play alongside Isaac Okoro, Rookie of the Year finalist Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. That doesn’t even include Sixth Man of the Year finalist Kevin Love, Cedi Osman, Caris LeVert, Ricky Rubio plus Dean Wade.
In summary: This newfangled Cavs group is fun, talented and deep.
Meanwhile, in what looks to be a monumental rebuild, the Jazz will have now have to navigate and subsequently build around a young core of Sexton, Markkanen, Talen Horton-Tucker, Stanley Johnson, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Jarred Vanderbilt, Jared Butler, Agbaji and Walker Kessler (rookies).
They (likely) aren’t done extracting additional first-round picks, either.
Danny Ainge and Co. will likely attempt to part ways with Mike Conley ($22.7M; $24.4M non-guaranteed in ’23-24), Bojan Bogdanovic ($19.3M; expiring), Beasley ($15.6M; $16.5M team-option in ’23-24), Clarkson ($13.3M; $14.3M player option in ’23-’24) and Rudy Gay ($6.2M; $6.5 player option in ’23-’24), among others.
Heck, it wouldn’t be surprising if they tried to flip Markkanen, Vanderbilt or another one of their young pieces that might not fit with the core (not to say the other two won’t; they’re just two that come to mind).
Alas, this is the *start* of a franchise-altering teardown for Utah, who has made the playoffs — but has not advanced past the second round — in each of the last six seasons.
And credit to Cavs general manager Koby Altman and the Cleveland Cavaliers front office for pouncing on this deal when little-to-nobody else thought this was a possibility.
Cleveland got eliminated in the play-in by the Atlanta Hawks in 2021-22, concluding its re-surgent campaign as a 9-seed.
With most of the top Eastern Conference foes — namely the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors — improving this offseason (some more than others), adding Mitchell is going to make the East all the more interesting.
They now secured an extra ball-handler outside of Garland — which they desperately needed last year during Sexton’s absence — and a great one at that. So long goes their three-big trio of Markkanen-Mobley-Allen; and hello comes a dynamic shot-creating backcourt of Mitchell-Garland.
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This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.