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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Cleveland Cavaliers
Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /

What a trade for Mitchell could look like

The Cavaliers have their current core locked up for at least the next three seasons, and with everyone 25 years old and younger (Darius Garland is 23; Evan Mobley 22) they can be patient and deal for a player who will reach his peak with this group, rather than prioritizing win-now talent.

Cade Cunningham of the Detroit Pistons presents an intriguing option to fit that bill. He and Mobley went in the top 3 of our 2021 Redraft, and since then the encouraging reports of Cunningham’s play with the Team USA Select Team are likely enough for him to pass Franz Wagner for second. It would be a tantalizing pairing of talent putting Cunningham and Mobley together.

This trade likely would have included more going back to Cleveland, but Cunningham’s stock is rising after missing most of last season due to injury. Here is a simple version of a construction between the two teams:

The Pistons have been wallowing at the bottom of the standings for a few years now and seem ready to take a step forward. They got better this summer without rushing things, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t trying to find a way to take a bigger step. This would let them get much better right now.

Mitchell and Jaden Ivey would be a lot of juice in the backcourt, and there is an intriguing collection of big man talent on the Pistons to play pick-and-roll with Mitchell. Bojan Bogdanovic is an elite shooter with a lot of experience playing alongside Mitchell, and the athleticism of a team with Ivey, Mitchell and Ausar Thompson could break teams in transition.

Young teams with an intriguing prospect tend to hold onto those players on the hope that they reach their ceiling, but Detroit could prove the exception to the rule. They haven’t had a guard make even an All-Star team since Allen Iverson in 2008-09; Mitchell would give them something they haven’t had in a very long time.