Bleacher Report pitched a trade idea that sees Donovan Mitchell getting traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to rebound from a disappointing conclusion to their 2021-2022 season. A major swing is needed, but blowing up the core and the future outlook of the team is not the option the team should pursue. The Cavs were a healthy Jarrett Allen away from a Top 4 finish. That was without Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio. If the Cavs bring both guards back, they’re off and popping. So when Bleacher Report’s Zack Buckley pitched the idea of the Cavs trading for Donovan Mitchell, you can imagine my surprise.
The move is, in a vacuum, a good idea. Mitchell has established himself as a big-time player in the NBA and is a physical two-guard that, while undersized, isn’t afraid to play in the paint. That doesn’t mean he’s without his flaws. He is an awful defender. Worse than Sexton. Seeing how important the defense is to the Cavs, and how Mitchell’s usage would be impacted in Cleveland playing alongside Darius Garland, you have to ask yourself is him being a liability on defense going to be offset by his offense?
You also have to ask if his offense is impacted by Garland’s usage, would the Cavs be better off not sending off two core pieces to see a minimal upgrade to the position? After all, we have seen Mitchell choke in the playoffs this season while playing a Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks.
He’s single handily getting Jalen Brunson $20+ million a year next season.
Before we evaluate the trade, let’s see what the Cavs would have to give up to get him.
The Cavs need to improve their offense, but part of that is getting a different starter in the place of Isaac Okoro, and maintaining a healthy team, something the team struggled with last year. Lauri Markkanen, Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, Rubio, and Dean Wade all missed significant time. Of course, the offense was going to be impacted.
The offense ranked where it did due to injury, and also the rate they played. While the Cavs did well in transition, they were very much a slower, half-court offense. This was by design to minimize the offensive pace of opposing teams. They were 13th in Net Rating last year.
Getting rid of its best defensive options isn’t going to improve the team. Maybe a team like New York would be improved by just adding a pure scorer but Mitchell isn’t a complete player. He’s one-dimensional, and I’m a Mitchell fan. If he came over in free agency, throw money at him.
We’re not talking just money, we’re talking two of the Cavs’ better defensive assists and a 20.0 point-a-game bucket scorer, plus a bundle of draft picks. That to me doesn’t make a load of sense; why make your team worse to make them better? Buckley seems to not realize how important Okoro and Markkanen were to the defense last year, implying that they’d still be a top-10 defense, despite Mitchell being given 30+ minutes and being an absolute wreck of a defender.
"Cleveland had this season’s 20th-ranked offense. Imagine how high that could climb if the team turbo-charged the backcourt by pairing Mitchell, a career 23.9-points-per-game scorer, with Darius Garland, who just secured his first All-Star trip by tallying 21.7 points and 8.6 assists on a nightly basis?Could the fifth-ranked defense dip a bit after the deal? Sure, but it wouldn’t fall off a cliff with O’Neale, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen rounding out the starting five. There’s a scenario in which the Cavs field top-10 units on both ends of the floor next season, and history holds that as the key to championship contention."
I like the idea of getting Michell but I’m not giving up Markkanen, who was a very valuable asset on both sides of the court, and three draft picks. Not for Michell, who has proven to be a liability of massive proportions.
The Jazz would be so much better if they had a two-guard who played any defense because then Rudy Gobert wouldn’t have to keep leaving the paint consistently to cover up his mistakes. I’m not saying no to Michell in Cleveland, I’m just saying no to this trade.