Donovan Mitchell was thinking what everyone in the basketball world was thinking before he got traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers: He was headed to the New York Knicks.
Instead, the Utah Jazz pulled off a trade that shocked the NBA, as the Cavaliers swooped in and landed the three-time All-Star guard.
Speaking at his introductory news conference on Wednesday, Mitchell admitted that he thought New York, his hometown, was where he would be going at the end of the day.
“For me, once Rudy [Gobert] got traded [to the Minnesota Timberwolves], I kinda saw the writing on the wall. I think we all did. I think we understood we had a good run. I kinda had a feeling I was going to get moved. Like I said, I thought it was New York,” Mitchell explained.
Mitchell said the thought of going back home, to be around his parents again, was intriguing.
“I’m not going to lie to y’all,” he said. “Who doesn’t want to be home next to their mom? I haven’t lived at home since I was in eighth grade. I’ve been in boarding school and what not, so it would’ve been nice. But for me, once I found out I got traded and what we’re going into, that trumped everything for me. I’m truly excited to be here, to be a part of this group, a part of this city.”
The trade to the Cavaliers came after the Knicks set a deadline to either agree on a Mitchell deal with Utah, or they were going to extend former third overall pick, R.J. Barrett. The Jazz and Knicks couldn’t agree on a deal, though talks did “tighten,” and Barrett was indeed extended.
Upon hearing that, Cavaliers GM Koby Altman called the Jazz back, having been engaged with them on Mitchell prior. GM Justin Zanik heard what Cleveland had in their package and a deal got done.
The Cavaliers sent three unprotected first-round picks in 2025, 2027 and 2029, and two pick swaps in 2026 and 2028 as part of the deal for Mitchell. Former first-round picks Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen, as well as the Cavaliers’ 2022 first-rounder Ochai Agbaji, were included in the deal as well.
Sexton agreed to a sign-and-trade to make this deal go through, agreeing to a pact worth $72 million over the next four years, which is fully guaranteed.
Mitchell joins a Cleveland team led by Darius Garland at point guard. In his third season, Garland notched his first All-Star bid, averaging 21.7 points, 8.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds. It solidified his position as the team’s star, and with Mitchell in place, the potential of a two-headed offensive monster appears on the depth chart.
The Cavaliers also sport an All-Star rim protector in Jarrett Allen, and power forward Evan Mobley, the third overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, has All-Star potential as well.
Mitchell was been disgruntled with the Jazz’s direction in the past, which is why he’s been connected to trade rumors prior to this offseason.
In his five-year career, Mitchell has averaged 23.9 points, 4.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 44.1% in 345 games.