Grade the Trade: Donovan Mitchell dealt to Big Apple in latest fantasy pitch

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers and Dennis Smith Jr., Brooklyn Nets
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers and Dennis Smith Jr., Brooklyn Nets / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages
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Is this enough for Mitchell?

To bring in Donovan Mitchell, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded three first-round picks, two first-round pick swaps, a recent first-round pick in Ochai Agbaji, and two solid players in Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton. Markkanen becoming an All-Star wasn't in the cards at the time of the deal; he was simply a good player on a solid contract with an up-and-down history in the league.

Any package the Cavaliers get back for Mitchell will be smaller than the one they sent out; Mitchell is closer to free agency, and the trade market has cooled somewhat since that wild summer of deals. Comparing the two trade packages is reasonable given they share a central character, but ultimately the deal has to evaluated on its own merits.

This trade gives the Cavs one of the best replacement Mitchells in the league, as Cam Thomas has exploded this season. He is averaging 22.8 points per game and is capable of breaking down defenses in isolation. He is certainly not at the level of Mitchell, but he can help fill some of the scoring void vacated by him.

Spencer Dinwiddie is a versatile combo guard who can either come off the bench or start alongside Darius Garland; he also would hold value to other teams if Cleveland wanted to reroute him for more help on the wing. Dorian Finney-Smith is having an excellent shooting season and would give this team a proven 3-and-D forward.

The future assets aren't useless either. Noah Clowney is a raw big man who could one day replace Jarrett Allen, while the two first-round picks boast significant upside, especially the Phoenix Suns' 2027 pick.

There may be a slightly better version of this trade out there, perhaps one that brings in a third team to reroute Dinwiddie and dwaps out Clowney for Dariq Whitehead, a talented rookie wing taken back-to-back with Clowney in June's NBA Draft. Even so, this deal sends a lot of value back to the Cavaliers, allowing them to continue competing while working to restock their barren cupboard of assets.

What this deal lacks is that one premium player, a young budding star; there is no Mikal Bridges in the deal, for example, as there was in the Kevin Durant deal. This trade doesn't overwhelm the Cavs in draft capital and it also doesn't have that centerpiece young player, unless you buy into Cam Thomas having that kind of upside.

It likely lacks the oomph to convince the Cavaliers to overcome their commitment to the vision of this team they put together. It's a good offer, and it checks a lot of boxes, but ultimately it's probably not enough unless the Cavaliers are pushed to the table for other reasons.

Grade: B+

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