Donovan Mitchell Issues Statement on New York Homecoming Before Cavs-Knicks

Donovan Mitchell Cleveland Cavaliers

Getty Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off the trade of the summer by prying All-Star Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz. Though the Cavs were hardly the favorites to land Mitchell; the tea leaves strongly suggested Mitchell would land on the New York Knicks.

The trade to NY had all of the trademarks of a storybook ending. Before suiting up for the Louisville Cardinals in college, Mitchell lived and played AAU ball in New York. The Knicks, as a matter of fact, was his childhood team.

Mitchell now is preparing to play postseason basketball in Madison Square Gardens, albeit as a visitor. After evening up the series in Game One, Mitchell opened up about the prospect of returning home.

“Don’t do too much, don’t make the moment too big,” Mitchell said. “You guys [in the media] are gonna do your job. Stephen A. [Smith] is gonna do his job. But just make the moment about what we do. It’s gonna be loud. It’s gonna be crazy. It’s gonna be fun. At the end of the day, you want this as a competitor.”

Mitchell has been an offensive engine for the Cavs during the postseason. The team’s lone All-Star this year is averaging 27.5 points and 10.5 assists through Cleveland’s first two games against the Knicks.

JB Bickerstaff Praises Caris LeVert After Breakout Night

Mitchell hasn’t been alone in his excellent play. In Game Two, Caris LeVert put up 24 points in 40 minutes off the bench for Cleveland.

After the game, JB Bickerstaff praised LeVert for stepping up for the Cavs.

“He’s rangey and he’s aggressive and he’s kind of offbeat, so I think he’s hard to read when he is using his hands and he’s active on the ball, it’s difficult to figure out where exactly he’s coming from,” Bickerstaff said. “So I think it kind of throws your rhythm off a little bit.”

LeVert was pressed into service after Isaac Okoro got into early foul trouble. But rather than sub him back in, Bickerstaff handed the car keys over to LeVert for the night. Okoro finished having played for fewer than three minutes.

The Cavs have a serious decision to make about Okoro, who hasn’t quite made the leap as a three-and-D player in his third year.

Isaac Okoro Could be Moved for Right Price: Sources

Okoro was drafted fifth overall in the 2021 draft. And while he’s grown into a tough perimeter defender, his offensive game leaves much to be desired, hence why the Cavs went with LeVert primarily in Game Two.

The former Auburn Tiger shot a career-best 36% from deep this season, but with a low volume (2.3 attempts) that’s actually down from his rookie year.

But the Cavaliers made a big bet on Okoro at the trade deadline, opting against moving him or adding reinforcements a the three spot.

“They are not at a point where they are going to trade (Isaac) Okoro, but they need to figure out what he is for them,” an Eastern Conference GM told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney recently. “If there is an opportunity to move him, I don’t think they would mind trying. But they probably give him another year to figure things out.

“The best situation is to go out and get a guy who can fill his role in the short term and have him come off the bench. A Bruce Brown, if he opts out, or Josh Richardson. Get a veteran in who can mentor him a bit, someone who does not have Okoro’s talent but who has that hustle and the IQ to fill in whatever gaps his team needs.”

The Cavs and Knicks will hit the court for Game Three on Friday night.