3 Instant Reactions After Donovan Mitchell Traded from Jazz to Cavaliers

Erin WalshSeptember 1, 2022

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

The Cleveland Cavaliers broke the internet Thursday by acquiring star guard Donovan Mitchell in a blockbuster deal with the Utah Jazz, leaving the New York Knicks out in the cold.

The Cavs sent Lauri Markkanen, 2022 14th pick Ochai Agbaji, Collin Sexton, three unprotected first-round picks and two pick swaps to the Jazz for Mitchell, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski

Sexton, who received a qualifying offer from the Cavaliers for 2022-23, agreed to a sign-and-trade to join the Jazz, Wojnarowski added.

Now, a Cavaliers team that finished eighth in the Eastern Conference last year with a 44-38 record and reached the NBA's play-in tournament, is primed to lock in a playoff spot this year.

Here's a look at the three most significant takeaways from the trade and how it will impact both the Jazz and Cavaliers.

Cavaliers Poised to Be Threat in Eastern Conference

Cleveland was good last season, but it just got a whole lot better with the addition of Mitchell.

The Cavs boast a starting lineup that includes Mitchell, Darius Garland, Caris LeVert, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. The bench also features a talented group that includes Cedi Osman, Raul Neto, veteran Kevin Love and Isaac Okoro.

Mitchell is exactly the player Cleveland needed to pair with Garland, who is coming off a breakout 2021-22 season in which he averaged 21.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 1.3 steals in 68 games while shooting 46.2 percent from the floor and 38.3 percent from deep.

Mitchell had been the face of the Jazz organization since being selected 13th by the Denver Nuggets in the 2017 draft and then traded to Utah on draft night. He has emerged as one of the best scoring guards in the league since making his debut and enters the 2022-23 campaign with three straight All-Star selections.

Mobley, the third pick in the 2021 draft, is coming off a rookie season that saw him average an impressive 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 blocks in 69 games while shooting 50.8 percent from the floor.

Allen, who spent his first full season in Cleveland in 2021-22, is also coming off a career year with the Cavs. He averaged 16.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 blocks in 56 games while shooting 67.7 percent from the floor.

The Cavaliers have an immense amount of talent, and it's seeming more likely that they make the postseason in 2022-23, which would be their first playoff appearance since they lost the 2018 NBA Finals.

Cleveland also has arguably its most talented roster since LeBron James departed the organization after those Finals.

Danny Ainge Sets Jazz Up For Bright Future

Utah now has a plethora of draft picks and young talent that could make it a contender in the future.

In addition to receiving picks and a number of young players from the Cavaliers, Jazz CEO Danny Ainge also received Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley (now on the Los Angeles Lakers), Leandro Bolmaro, 2022 No. 22 pick Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt, four first-round picks and a pick swap by sending Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Ainge is a master when it comes to building for the future. Just look back at his tenure with the Boston Celtics. He accumulated draft picks to build a roster that includes Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams III, Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard.

The Celtics remained committed to that young group of players, and that collection reached the NBA Finals together for the first time during the 2021-22 season. They may have lost to the Golden State Warriors, but the group still has a chance to contend for a title this season and beyond.

Brad Stevens picked up where Ainge left off by adding Malcolm Brogdon, Danilo Gallinari and Derrick White, but Ainge set the Celtics up for success now and in the future by his work through the draft and development of young players.

Ainge appears to be taking that same approach with the Jazz. If it pays off, they could be one of the top teams in the Western Conference in a few years.

Knicks Miss Out on Yet Another Star

New York was linked as the most likely destination for Mitchell for months on end.

However, per the New York Post's Marc Berman, the Knicks were reportedly "turned off" by Ainge's trade demands for the superstar guard, which included a package of seven first-round picks, in addition to players.

Team president Leon Rose had eight tradable first-round picks at his disposal, but he was wary of meeting Ainge's asking price in fear of not being able to field a contending team both now and in the future.

With the Knicks unwilling to satisfy Ainge's demands, the Jazz executive continued trade conversations with a number of other franchises, determined to receive the best deal possible for Mitchell.

He is only the latest star player the Knicks have missed out on as they've looked to resurrect the struggling franchise, which hasn't made a deep playoff run since it lost the Eastern Conference Finals to the Indiana Pacers in 2000.

In 2010, the Knicks attempted to sign LeBron James in free agency. They failed as he went on to join the Miami Heat. The franchise ended up trading for Carmelo Anthony the following season but never found postseason success with him.

In 2019, the Knicks lost their pursuit of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who decided to team up, but with the other New York franchise. The fact that both players decided to sign with the Brooklyn Nets only added insult to injury.

Bad luck also played its part, as the Knicks had the best chance to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Zion Williamson, but ended up with the No. 3 selection.

Now that Mitchell is off to Cleveland, the Knicks are left wondering what could have been in a lineup that would have included Mitchell, Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson.

The team's pursuit for a superstar will continue for at least another season. But will the Knicks ever be willing to give up the assets necessary to get them over the hump?


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