Donovan Mitchell trade rumors: ‘Growing sentiment’ suggests Cavaliers can

donovan-mitchell-cavs-g3.jpg
Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated from the postseason by the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, and now, all eyes turn to their best player: Donovan Mitchell. Cleveland’s All-Star guard is eligible for a four-year contract extension this offseason worth roughly $208 million. If he does not sign it, he will become a free agent next summer. Should Mitchell inform the Cavaliers that he does not plan to re-sign, they would have to explore trade options or risk losing him for nothing in one year.

While Mitchell has staunchly refused to comment on his future, the widespread rumor throughout Mitchell’s two years in Cleveland was that he would eventually seek a move to a bigger city. The last time he was at the center of trade rumors, he was linked to his hometown New York Knicks. He even admitted that he thought he was going to New York at the time.

However, according to Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon of The Athletic, “there is a growing sentiment around the league that the Cavaliers will be able to position themselves to receive his commitment” on a long-term extension. According to teammates in that same report, Mitchell has been “singularly focused on winning and wanting Cleveland to aim much higher than a first-round series victory for its measure of success.” Mitchell himself has publicly set a higher bar for the Cavaliers than their second-round exit.  “My goal is to make the conference finals and get to the NBA Finals, you know what I mean? That’s what I’m judged on,” Mitchell told Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor in April.

Changes of some sort will likely have to be made for the Cavaliers to reach those lofty heights. It certainly seems as though changes are on the way, according to that report by The Athletic, which cites three key pivot points for Cleveland this offseason:

  • Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s job is reportedly in “serious jeopardy,” and Mitchell himself “did not have great confidence in Bickerstaff,” according to The Athletic. Typically, when a star is unhappy with a coach, a change follows, but there is no obvious candidate to replace Bickerstaff. The most decorated veteran coach on the market, Mike Budenholzer, has already taken the head job with the Phoenix Suns, and the Cavaliers will have to compete with the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards for any remaining coach on the market.
  • Should Mitchell elect to stay in Cleveland, his backcourt-mate, Darius Garland, may be on the move. According to The Athletic, Garland’s agent, Rich Paul, “would have a conversation with Cavs officials on potentially finding a new home for the one-time All-Star” should Mitchell re-sign. Garland is coming off of a disappointing season in which he averaged only 18 points per game, and he put up only 11 in the season-ending loss to Boston despite injuries keeping Mitchell, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert off of the floor. The fit between Mitchell and Garland has been shaky over the last two seasons. They are both smaller, ball-dominant guards that aren’t high-end defenders.
  • Cleveland has another positional logjam to address. The Cavalier offense has struggled to score sustainably with both Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley on the floor. The Cavaliers went 19-13 when Allen played without Mobley this season, and Mobley’s offensive numbers jumped in the playoffs once Allen got hurt. Neither of them can shoot from deep, and that has severely limited Cleveland’s spacing.

While the specifics are still to be determined, it is growing increasingly likely that the Cavaliers look very different on the court next season. The most aggressive version of their offseason sees them change coaches and move one of their guards and one of their big men to create a more modern lineup that emphasizes shooting and defensive versatility more.

That is likely the future Cleveland will pitch Mitchell on. The Cavaliers have plenty of talent to work with, and that should help them attract a quality coach if they ultimately elect to fire Bickerstaff. Mitchell’s primary goal at the moment appears to be winning, and if Cleveland can convince him he can do so without moving, it now appears as though it will have a real chance of securing his signature on a contract extension.

Leave a Comment