A bit less than a year ago, it felt like the Cleveland Cavaliers had hit the jackpot when they traded for Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. The then-three-time NBA All-Star was certainly going to give this young Cavs team a huge boost as they made a run at a potential NBA Championship.
Cleveland had just come off a season in 2021-22 that just fell short of them making it into the postseason. Certainly bringing in a veteran like Mitchell would make a difference. For much of last season, it looked like the Wine and Gold were in prime position to not only make the playoffs but run through them on their way to potentially a title appearance.
Those good vibes faded abruptly in the first round of the playoffs as they were stunned by the New York Knicks in only five games as they lost the series 4-1. The Cavs were the higher seed at the No. 4 spot and were considered the favorites. However, the team played poorly and Mitchell was not himself and played terribly in comparison to what he had shown during the season. He was missing shots, turning the ball over, and simply not playing good basketball.
It was very untimely and didn’t help his team at the most critical stages of the season. Since then there have been many rumors flying that the Cavaliers may have to move on from Mitchell at some point, and that he may not ultimately sign a long-term contract extension with Cleveland.
The team that Cleveland lost to in the playoffs, the Knicks, are the center of the rumors of where it is thought that Mitchell wants to go to in his future. He grew up in that area and a return to his home area is what New York fans are still hoping for.
So “what if the Cavs hadn’t traded for Mitchell” is where some Cavs fans are right now.
What if the Cavaliers hadn’t traded for Donovan Mitchell?
The biggest thing that we wouldn’t have to be hearing today are these constant rumors of Mitchell potentially wanting out of Cleveland. So for now, Cavaliers fans, we should focus on the fact that Mitchell is here and can still help this team reach a title.
If Mitchell hadn’t been traded for, then the Cavs still might have made a playoff run with Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley leading the way. Maybe, if they had played without Mitchell, these other players would have played differently and stepped up even more in the spotlight.
However, all of these “what ifs” don’t really matter at this point for the Cavs. The team has a great player in Mitchell here and they should go get that NBA Championship this next season.
Hopefully, the team and Mitchell can stay focused on that goal and bring another title to Cleveland in 2024.