Cavaliers ‘Weirdly Optimistic’ Amid Swirling Donovan Mitchell Trade Rumors: Exec

Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell

Getty Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell

For another night, at least, Donovan Mitchell is a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. But if Boston takes care of business in Game 5 against the Cavs, with a 3-1 lead and with Mitchell likely out because of an injury, it could be the last time we see Mitchell as a Clevelander.

That’s because Mitchell is heading into a pivotal NBA offseason, despite the fact that he is under contract for next season. He can opt out in 2025, and if the Cavaliers do not get Mitchell’s signature on a contract extension soon after their season ends, the best option for the franchise would be to trade him.

But around the league, there is no sense that the Cavs are in desperation mode when it comes to Mitchell.

“They’ve never talked about trading him as far as most of us know,” one league executive told Heavy Sports. “They’ve always just kind of gone about their business. There is nothing that has come out of his camp to anyone about not being happy in Cleveland or he is gonna bust the door down to get out.

“Everyone assumes he wants to get back to New York (where Mitchell is from), and maybe he does, but he has never said that. I think Cleveland is jut kind of optimistic, weirdly optimistic when it comes to him.”

Donovan Mitchell has Retained His Value

The reasons why the Cavs are especially upbeat around Mitchell probably go beyond whether the team loses him or not. Because the reality is, they’re a good team with Mitchell but they’ll probably be a good team even if they have to trade him. Without Mitchell, Darius Garland would take on a bigger role. Hopefully, there would be more development from Evan Mobley, too.

And trading Mitchell could bring back the polished two-way wing the Cavs need, or pave the way for them to get one. The Cavaliers gave up three first-rounders, plus Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen, to get Mitchell, and two years later, he has not lost any value. He averaged 26.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists this season.

Another GM said that he does not think the Cavs will shop Mitchell until they have some certainty about him leaving. But it won’t be a tough sell if they need to deal him.

“A lot of times, these deals happen and it is like a car, the asset has this huge depreciation as soon as it leaves the lot,” one GM said. “But Donovan is young (27). Sexton and Markkanen, with health and all that stuff, they were not going to fit in Cleveland. So it is not like they broke the bank to get him.

“Now, if you’ve got to trade him this summer, can you recoup the losses? Absolutely, they can. Or if he re-signs, then you’re happy with that.”

Cavaliers Will Have Plenty of Trade Options

Mitchell can sign a four-year extension worth about $200 million this summer. He could wait it out and be a free agent in 2025.

If he won’t sign, there figure to be a handful of contenders willing to angle for his services. The Lakers would be on the list, as the team has draft picks to offer—a full complement of three—and the Miami Heat have long been rumored to have interest in Mitchell.

The two New York teams, the Knicks and Nets, could be expected to make a push for Mitchell, too, as the Knicks were considered the frontrunner to trade for him back in 2022, before the Cavs ultimately pulled off the deal. The Knicks’ development as a team since then, though, could cause them to think twice about a pursuit of Mitchell.

The Warriors are looking for an upgrade, but a ball-dominant guard like Mitchell would be a longshot for Golden State. And beware the wildcards—Mitchell could change the dynamic of young promising teams like the Magic or Rockets.

But start with the Lakers and Heat. “Those are the ones you’ll hear of first,” the GM said. “The Lakers are going to be looking to make a deal. There’s so much pressure there. It’s less pressure in Miami, but the backs are against the wall there on this group. They know it.”

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