Donovan Mitchell is quickly becoming the next big thing in the NBA, even if he may need another piece to push him and the Jazz forward in the playoffs. The 2nd-year player out of Louisville has averaged 23.8 points per game on 43.2% shooting, including a 36% rate from behind the arc.
He’s had a tough time against the Rockets in the Western Conference 1st Round this past week…at least until his 34-point outburst in the close Game 3 loss. Two games before the postseason, he erupted for 46 against the 2nd-seeded Denver Nuggets.
As a rookie, he was one of just 4 players (Joel Embiid, Blake Griffin, Tyreke Evans) to score at least 20 a game in their first seasons. For this, his 3rd-year team option was accepted, guaranteeing him $3.1 million this season, $3.63 million next season, over $5 million in 2020 and over $7 million in 2021-22.
While his future looks secure in Utah for the next few years, it hasn’t stopped some teams from looking at him on the trade market. Let’s take a look at those efforts, as well as future ways the Jazz can surround him with talent.
Donovan Mitchell Trade Rumors & Future With Jazz
Big-market teams would love to add the 6-foot-5 guard for extra perimeter scoring. He would fit well with LeBron James and the Lakers, who’s looking for the next Kyrie Irving or Dwyane Wade in his life.
In particular, the Knicks reached out to Utah to see if Mitchell was a possibility during the Kristaps Porzingis trade talks in February. Per Marc Stein:
“The Knicks spent much of January quietly canvassing the league for potential Porzingis trades, according to a person familiar with the talks who was not authorized to discuss them publicly. They tried for untouchables such as Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox and, predictably, were rebuffed.”
SLC Dunk, the SB Nation affiliate for the Jazz, laid out opportunities for players to surround and supplement Mitchell in Salt Lake City. In particular, James Hansen suggests raiding the 76ers:
Tobias Harris will be on the top of the list for the Jazz, but he’ll be on the top of the list for a lot of teams, including the Sixers who will now have the inside track to getting him. It’s not the most likely of signings. That’s why a player like Jimmy Butler may be the answer. Will the Sixers be able to stomach a max for Butler and Harris with contracts for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid looming?
The Jazz are projected to have over $16 million in cap space for 2019-20. The 76ers are paying Butler over $18 million this season, while Harris is earning $14.8 million.
Butler would be the more versatile option, as he could bolster the perimeter scoring alongside Mitchell, but provide an elite defender to slow down the likes of James Harden. Harden has combined for 83 points in 3 games so far in this 1st round series (entering tonight).
In addition, Kevin Durant has been rumored to either go to Los Angeles to play for the Clippers or stay in Golden State. Either way, Utah will need someone to deal with him once the playoffs come around.
Harris would be a boost in interior scoring, but not nearly the defender Butler is.
With all this said, Mitchell is the focal point for a team with a legitimate future with a piece or two more. He’s likely not going anywhere.