Throughout the bulk of the Miami Heat‘s offseason, the team was heavily linked to landing either Nets star Kevin Durant, who ultimatley changed his mind about requesting a trade out of Brooklyn, or former Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, whom the franchise had been actively trying to pursue for months.
While trade talks appeared to slow to a trickle, and it seemed the 25-year-old guard would at least start the season with the Jazz, on September 1, the Cleveland Cavaliers swooped in with the winning deal to snag Utah’s three-time All-Star.
Before Cleveland’s surprise offer fell on Jazz general manager Justin Zanik’s desk, Mitchell told J.J. Redick on his Old Man and the Three podcast on Friday, October 21, that he was “preparing” to join the Heat via his workouts with All-Star center Bam Adebayo.
In fact, it was something he had discussed with his now Cavs teammate Darius Garland, whom he also worked out with over the summer.
“D.G.,” Mitchell told Redick. “But we didn’t know this was happening. So, we would be working out, and I said this to somebody, ‘I was like, man I’m working out Bam and others and I’m thinking like, ‘This is just preparing. This is what it’s going to look like,'” which is now funny to him now since D.G. was “literally right here.”
“Miami, New York, where else?” Mitchell said. “Maybe Washington. Those were the three in my head that I thought, ‘Okay, if anything were to happen, it would probably be on that side.’”
Mitchell’s statement seemed to break Miami fans’ hearts all over again on Friday. “#HEATCulture WE FUMBLED,” one man tweeted, while a Heat Nation fan account replied, “We didn’t need to see this.”
“Pat Riley done mess up big time man,” one person tweeted, while others at least found solace that the reports were legit and not just false hope. “It WAS Miami or NYC. Cleveland just swooped in all of a sudden,” another person tweeted,
Mitchell Said It Was a ‘Shock’ When His Agent Called About Cleveland
In addition to the Heat, the New York Knicks was a strong favorite to land Mitchell. Just two days before Mitchell was successfully traded to Cleveland, Mitchell said he went to bed thinking he was going to join the Knicks. He had quietly told his friends and family that he was returning to his home state of New York.
“That was a shock at first,” Mitchell said of when his agent called to say he was going to Cleveland but expressed how much he’s content with his new team. “We have the talent. We have the group. We have guys who are locked… the biggest thing now is just figuring each other out.”
In the blockbuster exchange for Mitchell, the Cavs sent Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, rookie wing Ochai Agbaji, guard Collin Sexton (who signed a $72 million sign and trade deal with to join the Jazz), three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027, and 2029) and two pick swaps (2026 and 2028) for Mitchell, per ESPN.
Mitchell Said He Skipped Summer League to Avoid Trade Questions
The Jazz announced they were open to trading Mitchell before Summer League, but the transaction didn’t happen until September 1. Redick asked Mitchell if it was difficult living in the unknown for those two months, but Lousiville alum said it was quite the opposite.
“Like out of all the summers I’ve had in the NBA, that was probably the best summer I had for mental sanity and clarity. And just health,” Mitchell said. “I had a bad playoffs. The year was up and down for us. And for me, I just came into the summer like I’m just gonna focus on being the best me I can be. Then obviously all that stuff happened.”
“I didn’t even go to summer league. I went on vacation,” Mitchell continued. “Just off the sole fact… at the end of the day, I don’t want to walk through the casino and have 85 people be like ‘Hey, where you gonna be.’ I took some time to think about Donovan. I think that’s very underrated… There were days though. Days where I was like what’s going on, where am I going on? What am I doing?”