Donovan Mitchell trades: Cavaliers acquire All-Star for Collin Sexton, three unprotected picks, per report

Donovan Mitchell trades: Cavaliers acquire All-Star for Collin Sexton, three unprotected picks, per report

The Cleveland Cavaliers have traded for Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The three-time All-Star guard is going to Cleveland in exchange for a package centered around draft picks and young players.

The Jazz have acquired Cleveland’s unprotected first-round picks in 2025, 2027 and 2029, plus pick swaps in 2026 and 2028, by ESPN. Also going to Utah, as first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes: Ochai Agbaji, the No. 14 pick in the 2022 draft; Collin Sexton, who will arrive via sign-and-trade; and Lauri Markkanen.

Sexton’s new contract is for four years and $72 million, according to Shams Charania.

Mitchell, who turns 26 next week, joins a Cavs core that also includes the 22-year-old Darius Garland, the 24-year-old Jarrett Allen and the 21-year-old Evan Mobley. Garland and Allen both made the All-Star team last season, and Mobley finished second in Rookie of the Year voting.

The Jazz, meanwhile, are pivoting to a full rebuild, having already traded Mitchell’s former co-star, Rudy Gobert, for a similar package in a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves this offseason.

The Cavs are going big and small at the same time

Cleveland did not have to do anything big this summer. Despite a long list of injuries last season, it won 44 games, which was good enough to qualify for the play-in tournament. Mobley was an All-Defense candidate as a rookie and a franchise-player upside. Garland is ascending, and is equally dangerous with and without the ball. Allen is a premier rim protector, and he’s developing on offense exactly as the Cavs hoped. Had they simply added Agbaji to the mix, reunited with Ricky Rubio and called it an offseason, they would have been on an upward trajectory, with cap space ahead of them next summer. Agbaji, a 3-and-D wing, is exactly the type of player they didn’t have. Maybe they could have brought Sexton back, too.

Instead, with an elite playmaker on the market, Cleveland decided to go for it. The rationale here is simple: For all the good vibes surrounding the Cavs last season, they finished with the 20th-best offense in the NBA (111 points per 100 possessions) and were absolutely horrendous (103 per 100) when Garland was off the court . Garland’s ability to shoot on the move makes him a clean fit with Mitchell on offense, and Cleveland can keep one of them on the floor at all times. Maybe this means Caris LeVert, acquired in a midseason trade with the Indiana Pacers, will be the Cavs’ long-term sixth man; maybe it means he’ll be moved before this year’s deadline.

Pairing Mobley with Allen — and starting the 6-foot-11 Markkanen next to them — was an interesting experiment in an era where bigs are routinely played off the floor in the playoffs. After a successful bet on their mobility and talent, Cleveland has doubled down, effectively announcing that it believes its exceptionally large frontcourt can mask the weaknesses of its exceptionally small backcourt. In theory, if Garland and Mitchell, both of them 6-foot-1, neither of them a versatile defender, can survive anywhere defensively, then it would be on a team that has Mobley and Allen behind them.

It is reasonable to be skeptical about that. While most of the NBA is trying to acquire as many big, strong, switchable wings as possible, the Cavs have assembled a (wildly talented) core with either one or zero of them, depending on whether or not you think Isaac Okoro can still be considered part of the core. As Daryl Morey likes to say, though, you can’t just go into the superstar store and pick the one you want. If the Cavs had waited, maybe they could have acquired another player of Mitchell’s caliber, without the obvious fit issue. But that perfect trade opportunity might never had presented itself.

What’s next for Utah?

The Jazz felt they’d hit their ceiling with Gobert and Mitchell, so lead executive Danny Ainge chartered a new course. They got four first-round picks for Gobert, only one of them (lightly) protected, plus a pick swap. The Cavaliers sent them three more unprotected firsts, plus two swaps. Between Agbaji and big man Walker Kessler, picked No. 24 by Minnesota in this year’s draft and then included in the Gobert trade, they essentially got two more first-rounders. Utah picked up another first in the deal that sent Royce O’Neale to the Brooklyn Nets. And in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, it turned veteran Patrick Beverley, acquired from the Timberwolves, into 21-year-old Talen Horton-Tucker.

And Ainge isn’t done.

Mike Conley, who turns 35 next month, is not part of the Jazz’s long-term plans. Neither is Bojan Bogdanovic, who will turn 34 during next season’s playoffs. Jordan Clarkson, 30, figures to be available as well, and the same is likely true of Malik Beasley, who turns 26 in November. ESPN reported that Utah considers Sexton, 23, and Markkanen, 25, to be keepers, but there’s no guarantee that they finish their respective contracts in Salt Lake City.

The Jazz have a large collection of future picks now, and they’ll have even more by the deadline, if not by the beginning of training camp. They’ve set themselves up to lose a ton of games next season, and, if the lottery breaks right, they might get to draft their next franchise player. The losses will be painful, but they’ll come with a side of hope. The same can’t be said of banging your head against the same wall year after year.

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