Cavaliers trade for Donovan Mitchell: ‘Right time to take a big swing’ – Terry Pluto

CLEVELAND, Ohio — I called a veteran NBA executive to talk about the Cavaliers’ big deal for Donovan Mitchell.

Trade recap: Cleveland sends Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ocha Agbagi and 2025, 2027 and 2029 first-round picks to Utah for All-Star guards Novan Mitchell. Utah and the Cavaliers also agreed to swap draft picks in 2026 and 2028, Utah’s top pick.

The executive has no affiliation with the Cavaliers and doesn’t have any personal agenda. I’d expect him to have some of the same concerns I did about the trade — small backcourt, traded three first-round picks, weakened defense.

“All of this is true,” he said. “But you miss the point.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

He explained that the Cavaliers are “in a unique situation.” They already have three young players in Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Then you add Mitchell, a career 24-point scorer with a three-year deal. Mitchell will turn 26 on September 7.

“It’s rare to have four talented young players (21 to 26) together,” he said. “It’s not a one-year thing. It’s an opportunity to swagger and really do something in the East — you’ve got to take it.”

Garland and Allen were named to the All-Star team for the first time last season. Mobley looks like a future All-Star. Mitchell was a three-time All-Star. The executive emphasized that Mitchell is “young but farther than some of the other players on the Cavaliers.”

Mitchell appeared in 39 playoff games, averaging 28.3 points. Mobley, Allen and Garland’s playoff experience was limited to a pair of “playoff” tournaments last season.

he can score

Donovan Mitchell has averaged 28 points in 39 career playoff games.
Associated Press

Different Views on Offense

The Cavaliers ranked 20th in total offense last season. They’re especially hard to score when opposing defenses are focused on shutting down point guard Garland.

Remember Cleveland’s 107-101 loss to Atlanta in its final “playoff” game? Exhausted, Garland tried to attack. He made 9 of 27 shots and scored 21 points. That game was one of the reasons the Cavaliers front office was looking for another guard who could score.

The executive talked about Mitchell’s ability to score “anywhere on the court he wants to.” I think he and Garland can learn to play together. “

I’ve been told that the Cavaliers have several internal stats that show Garland being efficient “off the ball,” meaning running out of draft picks for open spots and shots. He proved it last season when he was paired with Ricky Rubio. Their plus-minus ratio was the best of any two players in the NBA last season.

Rubio re-signs with Cavaliers. The veteran guard played two seasons at Utah with Mitchell (2017-19). So there’s a good chance the guard will develop chemistry quickly. Mitchell averaged 5.1 assists per game last season, so he can pass the ball.

Defensive Game Changer

Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley could be one of the best 1-2 defenses in the NBA, John Kuntz, cleveland.com

What about defense?

I’m not happy about having Markkanen in the deal. The executive emphasized that the 7-foot Allen and Mobley “could cover just about anyone at small forward.” He speculated that the Cavaliers could play 6-foot-6 Isaac Okoro at small forward.

“I don’t think they will miss Markkanen as much as you did,” he said. “It’s not disrespectful to him, it’s just that Allen and Mobley are so unique on the defensive end. Like David Robinson and Tim Duncan playing together in San Antonio.”

He’s not saying Allen and Mobley are going to be in the Hall of Fame like those Spurs stars. But the two 7-footers changed the game on defense, as Allen and Mobley did last season.

The executive wasn’t the only NBA person who told me that Mitchell “could be better on defense.”

Mitchell played two seasons with Louisville, averaging 11.7 points on 41 percent shooting. He was known for his defense and athleticism when Utah selected him with the 13th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Can the Cavaliers bring back the old mentality?

“With these guys, they should always have at least two good players on the court at the same time,” he said. “It’s a big thing. Even if you come off the bench, you should avoid really bad combinations on the pitch.”

How about the picks?

The executive I spoke to was old-school and still stunned by all the first-round picks that the NBA trades for.

Utah traded Rudy Gobert to Minnesota for four first-round picks before the Mitchell trade with the Cavaliers! They also added three players, including Minnesota’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 draft.

The Cavaliers sent three first-rounders and their 2022 No. 1 overall pick (Agbagi) to Utah along with Sexton and Markkanen.

The new theory is that teams can trade more first-round picks, in part because teams are also willing to trade first-round picks — especially those outside the lottery. So you can trade your options now and more later.

“The Cavaliers have at least a three-year window with these young guys,” the executive said. “Three years is an eternity in the modern NBA.”

The Cavaliers haven’t made the real playoffs (not the playoffs) without LeBron James since 1998. The last time they won a playoff series without James was in 1993.

“They have the opportunity to do something special,” the executive said. “Now is a good time to do so.”

Recent Terry Pluto Column

How the Jimmy Garoppolo trade affects the Browns

Cavaliers make a bold, exciting trade, but there are risks

What do you think Kevin Stefanski learned last season? – Hey Terry

Hey Terry Podcast: Myles Straw, Browns, Guardians

About Joel Bitonio’s comments in Deshaun Watson, some Hey Terry Browns

On the story behind Mike Clevinger and the big Cleveland/San Diego trade

Who are baseball’s silent superstars?Cleveland fans know him well

Leave a Comment