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Donovan Mitchell Thought He Was Headed to Knicks Before Trade to Cavaliers

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 14, 2022

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

New Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Donovan Mitchell told reporters at his introductory press conference with the team that he thought he was "going home" to New York after the Knicks were rumored to be in trade talks with the Utah Jazz, before the Cavs pulled the trigger instead.

"All summer I didn't really say much, I just let you guys do what you guys do, to be honest. I thought for sure I was going back home, I'm not gonna lie about that," he said. "But when I found out where I was headed, who I was playing with, the group, the team, the coaching staffβ€”I couldn't be happier to be here, to be a part of this organization, this group, to join these phenomenal guys and add to it. I think, for me, that is what I'm truly excited about."

ClutchPoints @ClutchPointsApp

"I thought for sure I was going back home, I'm not gonna lie about that."<a href="https://twitter.com/spidadmitchell?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@spidadmitchell</a> on being hopeful that he was going home to play for the Knicks<a href="https://t.co/jKWmYFK7tB">pic.twitter.com/jKWmYFK7tB</a>

Mitchell also told ESPN's Brian Windhorst that he thought he was "very close" to being a Knick, noting he knew "a little bit more than most":

Mitchell spent his childhood in New York, Connecticut and New Hampshire before attending college at Louisville and eventually being drafted by the Utah Jazz, where he spent the first five seasons of his career.

Once Rudy Gobert was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves this offseason, however, he said it was apparent his time in Utah was coming to a close:

ClutchPoints @ClutchPointsApp

"Once Rudy [Gobert] got traded, I kind of saw the writing on the wall. I think we all did. I think we understood [that] we had a good run."<a href="https://twitter.com/spidadmitchell?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@spidadmitchell</a> on when he knew the Jazz we're going to hit the reset button<a href="https://t.co/JOxcLRDG4R">pic.twitter.com/JOxcLRDG4R</a>

Mitchell, 26, will pair with an exciting young Cavaliers core, headlined by Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. That group reached the Play-In Tournament last season, though they failed to secure a playoff spot.

It was a huge step for a young team, and the addition of Mitchell has justifiably raised expectations.

The veteran shooting guard will add a level of perimeter scoring the Cavs didn't previously possess. The three-time All-Star has averaged 23.9 points per game in the regular season during his career, and he's risen his level during five playoff runs, averaging an impressive 28.3 points per game in the postseason.

There will be some questions to answer in Cleveland. The perimeter defense of Garland and Mitchell is likely to leave something to be desired, though having Mobley and Allen prowling the paint and Isaac Okoro should help matters.

There could also be some spacing issues, given that the Cavs will start two traditional big men. And while Garland (38.3 percent from three last season) and Mitchell (35.5 percent from three last year) aren't bad three-point shooters, this isn't a team with a ton of excellent catch-and-shoot options.

There will be growing pains. There would have been if Mitchell had headed to his hometown Knicks, too. But there is more optimism than doubt about these new-and-improved Cavaliers.

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