In a move no one predicted, Donovan Mitchell is heading to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The blockbuster trade sees Spida heading to Cleveland for a package including Colin Sexton (via sign-and-trade) Lauri Markkanen, rookie Ochai Agbaji, three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027, & 2029), and two pick swaps (2026 & 2028). This trade is a win for everyone involved.
Cleveland adds a superstar to their team that shocked many last year. Last season, Cleveland went 44-38, finishing ninth. The team was strong throughout the season, hanging around the middle tier of the Eastern Conference for most of the season. Cleveland would eventually succumb to injuries, leading to their ninth seed finish. Darius Garland made his first All-Star appearance while Evan Mobley finished second in the Rookie of the Year award race. Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen both had strong supporting seasons as a part of this young team. In addition, Kevin Love looked was a strong candidate for Sixth Man of the Year and Ricky Rubio was looking like a potential All-Star before his injury. Adding Mitchell is the key to bringing Cleveland to the next level. Adding a superstar like Mitchell will help the Cavs compete with some of the best teams in the East including Milwaukee, Miami, Boston, and Philadelphia. If the Cavaliers are healthy and the team has good chemistry, they could make a splash during the regular season and upset many in the postseason.
For Utah, this gives Danny Ainge and the Jazz everything they want for the future. Colin Sexton is an underrated starting guard in the league. During the 2020-21 season, Sexton averaged 24.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 4.4 APG. In the 11 games he played during the 2021-22 season, Sexton averaged 16.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 2.1 APG. Sexton would miss the rest of the season with a torn meniscus but is ready to go for the 2022-23 season. In addition, forward Lauri Markkanen had a solid season averaging 14.8 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 61 games. Only 25 years old, Markkanen still has plenty of room to grow as a player. While he has not played in the regular season yet, rookie Ochai Agbaji had a good showing in Summer League, with 15.0 PG, and 4.7 RPG. In addition to players, the three first-round picks give Utah draft capital that they can use to either rebuild through the draft or try to trade a player.
With the Mitchell trade finally taking place, the question on everyone’s minds is what’s next for Utah. The team is entering a rebuild and it’s likely a fire sale will take place between now and the 2023 trade deadline. Veterans Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, and former Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson will be among the players most likely to be traded between now and the deadline. Conley has been linked to numerous contenders over the last few seasons and Clarkson is still one of the best sixth men in the league. Another veteran that will be on the trade block is Rudy Gay. At the age of 36 and having previous injuries, he does not fit with the Jazz and will be attractive to many contenders looking to stack their bench. The rebuild for Utah also means they will very likely drop in the standings after finishing fifth last season. Utah falling out of the playoffs will allow teams toward the bottom of the playoff race to move up in the standings while giving those on the outside a chance to make the play-in tournament.
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