What does Donovan Mitchell's trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers mean for the Cavaliers' chances of contending in the Eastern Conference?
In a surprising outcome to the summer-long question of whether the Utah Jazz might trade Mitchell, he ended up going not to his hometown New York Knicks but to join an up-and-coming Cleveland team that hasn't reached the playoffs since LeBron James' departure in 2018.
A 44-38 season led by two All-Stars under age 25 (Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland), plus Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley, put the Cavaliers in position to take a bold swing. Mitchell, a three-time All-Star who is just entering his prime (he'll turn 26 next week) certainly qualifies.
On the other side, the Utah Jazz's decision to trade Mitchell after moving fellow All-Star Rudy Gobert at the start of the offseason confirms a rebuilding period in Salt Lake City in the wake of six consecutive playoff appearances.
Utah will start the journey with an incredible eight extra first-round picks -- seven of them are unprotected -- plus three swaps and two players drafted in this year's first round.
How good was the return for Mitchell? Let's break things down from both perspectives.
Cleveland Cavaliers get:
Utah Jazz get:
Collin Sexton (via sign-and-trade)
Unprotected first-round picks in 2025, 2027 and 2029
First-round swap rights in 2026 and 2028
In a sense, this trade is more reminiscent of NFL team-building. Mobley's immediate success as the No. 3 overall pick in last year's draft gave the Cavaliers the look of a team with a star quarterback on a rookie contract, eager to take advantage of that spending power to accumulate talent before he gets more expensive.