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Donovan Mitchell trade: How the Cavaliers swung the 25-year-old All-Star almost without risk

The NBA restructuring has become increasingly homogenous in recent years. There are slight variations in the process, but most tend to follow some version of this cycle.

  • Not good for a few years. Collect lottery picks.
  • Develop those lottery picks into players who can reach the playoffs.
  • Swap your pile of future picks for another modern-day star to help those young lottery picks boost their championship.

I saw two textbook examples early in the offseason. Minnesota, fresh off its first playoff berth since 2018, traded four first-round picks, a swap, and several players to Utah for Rudy Gobert. Atlanta waived three picks and traded them to Dejounte Murray after his second straight playoff trip that lasted three years in the lottery.

This is a smart move forward for several reasons. From a salary perspective, teams can add expensive players while younger players are still below market value. ‘s best players don’t have to fantasize about teaming up with another big name elsewhere when they can do it in their own backyard. Add good players and good teams can win basketball games.

As such, prices are very high and often exorbitant.Knicks chose not to trade Donovan Mitchell for the very reasonIt’s not just the value of the lost picks, it’s what they represent. Every pick he can only trade once unless he has an infinite war chest like Oklahoma City. Get the deal wrong and you’ll be stuck indefinitely on the wrong roster. An unfixable roster is the easiest way to lose a star. Imagine if Brooklyn had to trade Kevin Durant this offseason, despite Houston dominating the next five first-round picks.

That’s why Cleveland’s acquisition of Mitchell was a crushing win for the franchise. They were able to get the 25-year-old All-Star without taking that risk. For many reasons, they may have made one of the safer superstar deals in recent memory.

Mitchell’s contract is the main reason. With three years of guaranteed contract remaining and relatively good health, the Cavaliers can not only be relatively confident that Mitchell will play at All-Star level, but also maintain All-Star appeal if needed. can do. Future trade negotiations if things go wrong. All-Stars with expiring contracts typically don’t get the same package as they would on long-term contracts, but they can usually get back a meaningful amount even if the acquisition team isn’t sure about the future.

The Raptors got a bargain with Kawhi Leonard’s contract expiring, but DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a first-round pick are largely unchanged. Paul George acquired Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis from the Thunder team and was willing to roll the dice on George before free agency. Neither of them had the cash to pick up one day, but Sabonis was a year behind being named 11th overall, and Oladipo had just signed an $80 million deal. Both were worth it.

So imagine the worst case scenario where this goes south for Cleveland and the New York native wants to come home in 2024. If you go back to a contract with the Knicks or grow beyond what is included in such negotiations, make sure Toronto and Oklahoma City get back rental packages like the ones they once paid for their former stars. Shoot, dribble. , Barrett, a big wing capable of defense, would fit perfectly into Cleveland’s current core. .

The Cavaliers already have three stars, so the bar is significantly lower for Cleveland at that point than most teams looking to move stars. You don’t need the Mitchell package to start rebuilding. With Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen still under the control of the team, they were looking for veterans to fit in with them. Always available. Utah brought back the multiple starting caliber veteran in a deal with Gobert as a mere salary filler.

These incumbent stars also limit the pick ups Cleveland gives. The final pick on the deal comes in 2029, his eighth in Mobley following his NBA season. He’s under contract through the 2028-29 season, even though Mitchell and Garland were forced to sign a four-year rookie extension because they occupied the team’s two designated rookie salary slots. It will be signed through the 2027-28 campaign. Allen says he is under contract until 2026 and all three of them are under the age of 24. Barring injury, that trio should be very good for Cleveland in the near future.

This wouldn’t be a bad deal for Utah. The Jazz have amassed so much draft capital that mere diversification is key at this point, and getting an unprotected pick from another team at least one of them he could mess with higher. But the Cavaliers shouldn’t worry too much about sending Danny Ainge, like picks like Brooklyn once did. So we were able to avoid such a disaster.

This is the security Atlanta and Minnesota didn’t have. The Hawks only have Murray under his two-year deal and are in serious danger of losing him as an unrestricted free agent if the situation gets worse due to the CBA’s restricted extension rule. increase. Minnesota’s risk lies in Gobert’s age. He is very precious today. He, too, in his 30s, relies heavily on athleticism, which can quickly fade. Neither team can get out of their current roster as easily as Cleveland if they need to. Most teams make the all-in move, which is common with superstars, and he can only do that move once. That may not be the case in Cleveland. They are not tied to their current supporting cast.

Mobley is still on his rookie deal. Allen signed a $100 million deal last offseason, which at the time seemed bigger than it really was. The deal doesn’t include annual pay increases, so he’ll make a flat $20 million over his next four seasons, despite the annual cap increase. Even with Mitchell and Garland being taken into account at maximum and Okoro and Ricky Rubio still on the books, the committed salary for the 2023-24 season is less than $110 million. , is projected to be $133 million.

If the non-star portion of the roster needs to be reformed through free agency in a year’s time they will be able to do so while turning down Cedi Osman’s team option if they want to chase a fifth major piece. Ditch Okoro and Rubio and you’ve got space for roughly $30 million. The missing wing on this team How does Jerami Grant sound as his defender Harrison Barnes and Kyle Kuzma make sense as well.

A year later, you may even have the chance to win an even bigger prize. Just when you thought LeBron James rumors could be dead for good, note that their last unencumbered first-round pick comes in 2024 for all the picks Cleveland just gave up on. Bronnie James is draft eligible, and elder LeBron can be a free agent again. Make it how you like it.

The Cavaliers are certainly not fixated on a James reunion, but all of this combined may have motivated their decision to sacrifice nearly all of their remaining draft capital. Even so, the Cavaliers have important options moving forward. If you need to use free agency next offseason, you can. Now if he needs to do another big deal in two summers, he can do that too. They can do all of this because they know Garland and Mobley will serve a very high floor for most of his remaining decade. With that floor safely in place, they tried to raise the ceiling by giving Mitchell a home run swing, and in the process making the kind of low-risk, high-reward deals most front offices can only dream of. was completed.

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