Laying out the details for a Mitchell – Lillard trade
The reason that trading two stars at similar positions rarely happens is because teams (1) overrate their own players, and (2) a team ready to move a star is usually ready to rebuild. That second point certainly applies here, and the Portland Trail Blazers are unlikely to want Donovan Mitchell back; he would just perpetuate the problem, and they need all the backcourt minutes they can hand to Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe.
That requires a third team…and it just so happens that the Miami Heat are in the market for an All-Star guard. Would they consider giving up on Lillard and landing Donovan Mitchell instead? If so, a deal could look something like this:
Portland may not want Tyler Herro back, so this could fork even further to loop in a team to take Herro, and the Oklahoma City Thunder need to amend the protections on the pick that the Heat owe them, but we’ll assume for the moment that the Blazers take Herro back to trade later and focus on the principal pieces here.
For Miami, they get a younger player in Mitchell who is nonetheless ready to win now; his shot creation and shooting would be an ideal fit with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. As painful as it is to say, Miami is more likely to re-sign him than Cleveland; that’s an advantage that South Beach always has.
The Blazers get a package similar to what the Heat have been offering for Lillard directly, but the improvement here is Isaac Okoro. After trading away Gary Payton II after a few injury-plagued months last season, Portland doesn’t have a top-end defensive option to defend in the backcourt and on the wing. Okoro would be an ideal addition to fit around Henderson, Sharpe and Anfernee Simons, and the Blazers can afford to be patient with his shot.
Let’s say that both sides are ready to go with this deal; why would Cleveland say yes?