Grade the Trade: Cavaliers deal Mitchell for rising star in new pitch

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) /
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The Cleveland Cavaliers are not likely to trade Donovan Mitchell this offseason. They have unfinished business from their early playoff exit last season, he seems to genuinely enjoy playing in Cleveland, and they project to be a contender next year. It’s very likely they stay the course heading into the season.

The pull in the other direction is the timetable of Mitchell’s contract. He can be a free agent in two summers and is unlikely to sign an extension this summer. They can wait until next summer to see if he turns down an extension then, too, but if they wanted to maximize the return for Mitchell now would be the optimal time purely from a trade-return standpoint.

The other point to consider is the viability of winning a title with two small guards. Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but recent title winners have had much more size among their best players. Should the Cavs consider moving Mitchell at the peak of his value and to achieve better roster balance?

Who would the Cavaliers target in a Mitchell trade?

If they were going to do that, they would likely be targeting a young player who can grow with Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. While trading him for a veteran like Paul George or Damian Lillard is conceivable, it doesn’t make sense for this core.

Is there a rising star on a team that could convince itself it was ready to push some chips into the middle and win now? There is at least one that comes to mind, and it wouldn’t require Mitchell to travel all that far. Let’s take a look at one such trade and who would be coming back to the Cavaliers.