How Donovan Mitchell Blockbuster Trade To Cavaliers Impacts Celtics

The arrival of the All-Star makes the Eastern Conference even better


Sep 1, 2022

The Eastern Conference is even more competitive Thursday following the blockbuster trade of guard Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers are trading Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, three unprotected first-round picks and two pick swaps to the Utah Jazz for Mitchell, according to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. Wojnarowski was the first to break the trade, which grants Jazz CEO of basketball operations Danny Ainge a haul of future draft assets.

It’s certainly a big price to pay, but the Cavaliers now seem like a player in a top-heavy Eastern Conference featuring the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers. Their shift in betting prices indicates the same. Cleveland competed in the NBA Play-In Tournament during the 2021-22 season following a 44-38 overall record, and now improved its roster.

Cleveland will pair the three-time All-Star Mitchell with budding star point guard Darius Garland and guard Caris LeVert. Garland averaged just shy of 22 points and nine assists during his third NBA campaign last season, earning an All-Star nod of his own. LeVert, who averaged 17 points per game last season while playing with the Indiana Pacers before a trade to the Cavs, will be looking to return to full health. In addition to the backcourt, Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley, the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and 2021 All-Star Jarrett Allen round out an impressive starting group in Cleveland.

With the Kevin Durant saga seemingly reaching its conclusion, the Cavaliers acquired the best player available on the trade market Thursday. It will benefit the group in the short term, and given Mitchell is just 25-years-old, it fits into the timeline of Cleveland’s core group. He’s under contract for three seasons with a player option for the 2025-26 campaign.

All told, it’s not an ideal situation for the Celtics, who probably would have been better off should Mitchell have been traded to the New York Knicks as initially speculated. New York instead signed R.J. Barrett to a contract extension, limiting their ability to spend on Mitchell. Then again, Mitchell also was linked to the Heat, who the Celtics defeated in the Eastern Conference Finals. Mitchell (or Durant?) in South Beach would have been even worse for Boston.

The Celtics should feel confident with the position they’ve put themselves in. Boston added Malcolm Brogdon and now-injured Danilo Gallinari to improve its depth earlier this offseason. The Celtics remain the betting favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook to win both the NBA Finals and repeat as Eastern Conference champions because of that depth. It’s still hard to imagine any other team will compete with their nine- or 10-man rotation.

So while the addition of Mitchell is not ideal for the Celtics, or anyone else in the Eastern Conference, Green Teamers can sleep comfortably knowing Boston has the talent to overcome the new-look Cavaliers.

Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images
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