The long-awaited blockbuster trade of Donovan Mitchell has finally happened, but his destination comes as a surprise. While the New York Knicks were Mitchell’s rumored destination, the Cleveland Cavaliers swooped in and snagged him from the Utah Jazz.
The 2022 offseason will be remembered for two things; the Kevin Durant trade that never was and the Donovan Mitchell trade that shocked the NBA. Mitchell getting traded wasn’t a surprise; the Utah Jazz had made it abundantly clear that they were pursuing a rebuild, but where he ended up was.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, fresh off of a play-in loss, pushed their chips to the center to solidify themselves as an NBA contender. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cavaliers will send the Jazz “Lauri Markkanen, rookie wing Ochai Agbaji, guard Collin Sexton, three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027 and 2029) and two pick swaps (2026 and 2028)” in return for Mitchell. Sexton agreed to a four-year, $72 million sign-and-trade as part of the deal.
Without getting too bogged down in the details, the Jazz got the picks and young players they covet, and the Cavaliers got a 25-year-old three-time All-Star under contract for the next three seasons. The Cavaliers are only a season removed from a three-season stretch where they averaged 20 wins a season, and now they have the look of a contender for the next half decade as Mitchell joins Darius Garland (22), Jarrett Allen (24), and Evan Mobley (21) to form perhaps the best young core in the NBA.
The Houston Rockets' window of contention is coming soon
A franchise’s fortunes can change in a blink of an eye, and the Houston Rockets, much like the Cavaliers, have all the right ingredients to make quick work of their rebuild. They have an incredible stockpile of young talents in Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith Jr., and Tari Eason to go along with another shot at a top-five pick in the loaded 2023 draft.
Once the cream of the Rockets' young core rises to the top, they’ll have the assets to create incredible trade packages to add another star or round out the roster with their own picks and/or the incoming Brooklyn Nets picks. Not to mention, they’ll have the ability to open enough cap space in the summer of 2023 to add two max salaries.
The future is bright in Houston, and as the Cavaliers just proved, opening up a championship window can come in a hurry if you draft well and are aggressive the opportunity presents itself.