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Report: Donovan Mitchell Traded to Cavaliers from Jazz; 3 Unprotected 1sts in Deal

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 1, 2022

Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

After five seasons and just as many playoff berths, the Utah Jazz did what was once thought unthinkable, trading Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Cleveland will send three unprotected first round picks and two pick swaps as part of the deal to Utah for Mitchell, sources tell ESPN. <a href="https://t.co/vfphmFMIAf">https://t.co/vfphmFMIAf</a>

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton and Ochai Agbaji will also head to the Jazz in the deal.

Between trading Mitchell to Cleveland and the decision to trade Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Jazz now have 13 protected or "lightly protected" draft picks through 2029, per Wojnarowski.

It's hard to believe that Mitchell, just 25, is no longer in Utah. He quickly became the face of the franchise after an epic rookie season in 2017-18 in which he averaged 20.5 points and 3.7 assists per game.

In his Jazz tenure, he averaged 23.9 points, 4.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from three. He's a three-time All-Star and one of the most dangerous perimeter scorers in the NBA.

Although the duo of Mitchell and Gobert led Utah to five straight postseason appearances, they never got the Jazz past the second round, which included a disappointing 4-2 series loss against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round this year—made all the more troubling by Luka Doncic's injury absence for half the matchup.

It was the final straw for that duo. Mitchell had struggled in the past with Gobert's cavalier attitude toward the COVID-19 pandemic and with how the Utah medical staff handled his ankle injury before last year's postseason. Gobert also appeared to call out Mitchell's defensive effort in January, which reportedly didn't sit well.

Up until this offseason, Mitchell had worked through any issues in Utah. But when the Jazz finished the regular season with seven losses in their final 11 games and failed to get past the Mavericks, it became abundantly clear that the team wasn't a championship contender as currently constructed.

The belief was that the Jazz would shake up the roster around Mitchell, especially once they traded Gobert in July. But Mitchell is following him out the door despite having three more years (and a player option for a fourth) remaining on his contract.

It's the end of an era in Utah and the beginning of one in Cleveland, where Mitchell will pair with the talented young duo of Darius Garland and Evan Mobley.

The Cavaliers just missed out on a playoff berth last season, falling in the play-in tournament. Acquiring Mitchell should make them a major threat in the Eastern Conference going forward, though.

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