Lakers Trade Package for Donovan Mitchell Must Be ‘All or Nothing’: NBA Exec

Lakers star LeBron James (left) and Cavs star Donovan Mitchell

Getty Lakers star LeBron James (left) and Cavs star Donovan Mitchell

Eyebrows in and around Lakerland fandom were raised this week when insider Brian Windhorst declared on ESPN that star Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, if he were to be put on the trade market, would “absolutely” be a trade target of the Lakers. That’s not a huge surprise around the league—the Lakers are intent on making upgrades this summer—but to have it put so starkly crystallized the Mitchell-in-L.A. possibility.

But how possible is that possibility? Well, the problem for the Lakers would be that other teams who would have an interest in Mitchell would be able to put together better trade packages. To nudge the Cavaliers into trading Mitchell, the Lakers would have to clear out all three of the available first-round picks they will have once this draft comes around, as well as at least three players heading back to the Cavs.

“The only way the Lakers could trade for him,” one Eastern Conference GM told Heavy Sports, “is if they did an all-or-nothing kind of trade. It’s got to be that. They’d have to put all their chips in. Then it is just a matter of, how much do the Cavaliers like Austin Reaves?”

Lakers Trade Package Starts With Austin Reaves, Picks

Mitchell certainly is going to attract a market. He is coming off a year in which he averaged 26.6 points with 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists, shooting 46.2% from the field and 36.8% from the 3-point line. All that, and he is only 27 years old.

Knowing that, the Lakers would have to start with Reaves, who bounced back from a slow start to the season to average 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists, while shooting 48.6% from the field. Key reserve Rui Hachimura (13.6 points, 53.7% shooting) would also have to be in the deal, and last year’s first-round pick—Jordan Hood-Schifino—could be a low-cost gamble for the Cavs, too.

Add the three future first-rounders, and that’s about as all-or-nothing as the Lakers could afford to go. The Cavs get some very good role players and the picks are enticing, but it’s not much of a return for a Top 20 star in the league.

The Rockets, Nets and Heat, who are expected to have interest in Mitchell, could offer better packages. A darkhorse team like Chicago or Orlando could be a surprise entry into a Mitchell sweepstakes, and could easily best a Lakers package.

Getting Mitchell to the Lakers, then, would require a handful of other suitors to wave off interest in him, and that’s not something the Lakers can count on happening.

Donovan Mitchell Could Steer His Own Fate

The one thing that could work in L.A.’s favor is if Mitchell decided he wanted to play for the Lakers. Mitchell just wrapped up the third year of a five-year, $163 million contract with Cleveland and has so far been unwilling to sign an extension that would keep him with the Cavaliers long-term. If that remains true, that would spark the Cavs into listening to offers for Mitchell.

But Mitchell could take things a step further and tell teams considering trading for him that he won’t sign an extension if they make a deal. Because Mitchell can be a free agent in 2025, he could make a team trading for him possibly just rent his services for a year. That would allow him to have some leverage in where he gets traded.

Mitchell has given no indication he wants to be in L.A. with the Lakers, though. He has given no indication he wants to leave Cleveland, in fact, and the Cavs think they could re-sign him.

“They’ve never talked about trading him as far as most of us know,” another 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 just kind of optimistic, weirdly optimistic when it comes to him.”

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