Grade the Trade: Cavs swap Mitchell for rival’s worst contract in B/R pitch

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers and Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics. Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images /

Would the Cavs say yes?

The Boston Celtics would be making this trade in order to raise their offensive ceiling and get off of Jaylen Brown’s massive six-year supermax contract. For the Cavaliers, making this trade would be to get a star under contract for six years; that dichotomy may be exactly what would be necessary to get this kind of deal done.

Donovan Mitchell walking in two years is a real danger for the Cavaliers; players don’t tend to sign in Cleveland if they have better options, and replacing Mitchell would be nearly impossible. Trading him for Jaylen Brown, who is under contract until 2028-29, would ensure they have a co-star for Darius Garland and Evan Mobley for a long time.

Making this move is also a bet on Garland, that he can be the top offensive creator, slotting Jaylen Brown into the co-star role he is more cut out for. It also puts more of a burden on Evan Mobley to develop as an offensive threat. On the flip side, however, it gives the Cavaliers more flexibility in finding their fifth starter, be that Max Strus or a player not on the roster.

Paying Brown $65 million in 2028-29 seems insane, and it’s certainly an overpay, but a small market team with a rich owner likely needs an overpay or two to maintain a contender. Adding a defender like Brown in front of Mobley and Jarrett Allen raises their defensive ceiling, and it’s possible that the growth of Garland offsets the loss to their offensive ceiling.

Add in the long-term viability of their core being under contract for the next five seasons (assuming Evan Mobley signs a max rookie extension next summer, which he almost certainly will) and this deal looks incredibly tempting. Add in a first-round pick and a backup point guard in Payton Pritchard and it becomes even more valuable to the Cavaliers. Too bad it’s not legal.

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Grade: A-