Why Donovan Mitchell trade rumors do not matter right now for the Cavaliers

New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers
New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

What's more important? The NBA playoffs or trade rumors surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers and Donovan Mitchell.

Since Mitchell's arrival to Cleveland, reports have swirled that he is unhappy and wants to leave as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Mitchell has maintained a positive demeanor and has shown no signs of discontent with his teammates or organization. Ahead of the Cavaliers' series against the Orlando Magic, Josh Robbins and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that an anonymous NBA executive confirmed the Mitchell trade rumors are "very real."

Unsurprisingly, the report suggests that an NBA superstar in their prime could be frustrated after another disappointing postseason with one year guaranteed left on their contract. This past offseason, the Cavaliers urgently addressed the problems that led to their early demise last playoffs, adding veteran leadership and outside shooting alongside the development of their internal core players.

This latest repetitive news comes shortly after Mitchell said he still aims to become the face of the NBA in the coming years. With the Cavs, Mitchell earned his first All-NBA selection and has set new career-highs in points, rebounds and assists in just two seasons. While he has yet to reach the NBA Finals or even conference finals, his career has blossomed with Cleveland. With a vast array of young talent around him and two years of continued success, the reasons for Mitchell to want out are not as clear cut as they seem.

Leaving Cleveland does not help Donovan Mitchell

Unless the Cavaliers accept scraps in return for their star, another blockbuster deal would land Mitchell on another team hoping to reach the Finals without any more major trade assets to offer. The New York Knicks seemingly exited the Mitchell sweepstakes after dumping their available salary this trade deadline, and the other hopeful landing spots likely could not entice the Cavs enough to tear down a growing contender.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, Mitchell's looming player option in 2025 could force them to accept a subpar trade in order to receive anything in return before he is able to walk away for nothing. Leaving in free agency, though, means Mitchell would have to join a team with enough financial room to sign a max contract. Once again, this is an unlikely path for Mitchell suddenly to join a contender.

The Cavaliers are not guaranteed that Mitchell will stay, but after two seasons together, they have the ability to make changes to the roster that complement his playstyle and elevate their ceiling. Cleveland's draft compensation is still depleted, but their wealth of mid-sized contracts and young talent could move the needle in trade talks if they need to make a big move to take the next step forward toward contention.

Any team trading for Donovan Mitchell is exhausting the same amount of assets the Cavaliers gave up to get him in the first place. Mitchell is not just as good as he was before joining Cleveland, he has improved as a passer, leader and defender. Cleveland would have no reason to accept any trade that sets them back to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. With Evan Mobley's recent offensive development in the latter half of the season, the Cavaliers have a talented and hopeful core to suggest they are the best place for Mitchell to spend his prime years.

Even if the rumors are real, the Cavaliers still have months before the summer trade season begins. If Mitchell's behavior is anything to believe, he has fully embraced the team and its culture. He has developed a clear synergy with Darius Garland and shows no signs of dismay with the Cavs. His long-time teammate Georges Niang gave a positive outlook on Mitchell's future, noting his love for his teammates and the organization as a whole. While nobody can speak for Mitchell but the man himself, his actions and impact on the city give no reason to expect him to cause hostility in the coming months.

For now, though, the Cavaliers have no reason to worry about Mitchell's extension or trade hopes. The trade deadline has passed, and the postseason is here. They have reached the playoffs for the second consecutive year with homecourt advantage, taking on the inexperienced Orlando Magic in Round One. The Cleveland Cavaliers open the series on Saturday, April 20 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse with a 1:00 pm Eastern Time tip off.

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