With the caveat in place that the Cavaliers don’t want to trade Donovan Mitchell and almost certainly won’t for the next year unless Mitchell forces their hand, let’s evaluate the return in case that scenario does come to pass.
Moving Mitchell almost certainly means getting a different kind of player back, so it puts Darius Garland in the driver’s seat as the No. 1 option. This deal would therefore be opening up the pecking order behind Garland, and that’s where the depth of this trade shines. Keegan Murray looks poised on the edge of a breakout campaign, Evan Mobley is likewise trending up, Harrison Barnes is a proven scorer and Kevin Huerter is a high-volume movement shooter.
Giving up a player of Mitchell’s caliber is difficult to do, and ultimately this deal depends on the growth of Garland as the lead option. Yet it’s hard to imagine a better combination of player archetypes to replace Mitchell with; an ascending on-ball scorer with legit shooting touch, a hyper-accurate movement shooter, and a veteran two-way combo forward. It balances out the lineup and raises the offensive floor.
The ceiling is the question here, but as far as a return that keeps them competitive and sets them up to contend in a year or two, this deal is sublime. Add in the first-round picks and this deal is fantastic for Cleveland. It’s not perfect, as giving up the best player in a deal never is, but this is the kind of return the Cavs should be searching for if Mitchell has to be traded.