Grading the trade for the Cavaliers
There are a few different levels to evaluating this trade for the Cavaliers. It’s not as simple as balancing assets on a scale to see if they level out; the Cavs need to consider the future direction of their team as well the path that brought them here.
Asset-wise, how does this deal look? Not bad. Brandon Ingram is a fringe All-Star player, a guy in the 25-35 range of players leaguewide. He averaged 24.7 points per game last season with 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists, shooting 39 percent from 3-point range. That’s a really sound offensive resume.
Ingram also gives the Cavs a better floor balance, allowing them to start Darius Garland and Max Strus in the backcourt and put the 6’8″ Ingram at small forward. Dyson Daniels can be the defensive stopper off the Cavaliers’ bench, and potentially as a future starter. Kira Lewis Jr. is a worthwhile flier at backup point guard.
Zooming out, however, this deal doesn’t match what the Cavs sent out last summer; it’s hard for any deal to do that, with the trade market having settled back down in the year since, but it would be a hard move to go all-in for Mitchell and then bail for less after just one year, denying them the chance to see what could have been.
Ingram is a good player, but he isn’t at the level of Mitchell, and that’s a problem in a league where you need at least one “guy” to carry you to a title. Mitchell is close to being that guy; Ingram is not, and doesn’t profile to get to that level.
This deal is “fair” but it doesn’t help the Cavs win a title, even if it does protect against this doomsday scenario that ESPN and others are convinced of. Mitchell seems to love it in Cleveland; it would take more than this deal to get the Cavs to jump ship this early.