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Cleveland Cavaliers roundtable: Donovan Mitchell trade reaction

Let’s get into the Cavs’ blockbuster move.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Dallas Mavericks v Utah Jazz Photo by Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images

So the Cavs traded for Donovan Mitchell! Let’s talk about it.

Your reaction to the Donovan Mitchell trade is __

Mack Perry: Shock. Cleveland seemed to be all but out of discussions for Mitchell outside of rumors here and there so I had let the idea of a starting back court of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell fall by the wayside. Little did I know that Koby “The Magician” Altman was working his magic behind the scenes in an effort to bring him to the land. I’m still in a state of shock while typing this.

Evan Dammarell: Somewhat surprised since it felt like a foregone conclusion Mitchell was going to be a Knick. But, after the R.J. Barrett extension, I was unsure what was going to happen and thought this may drag out into the regular season. But, now that he’s en route and we’ve had a little over a day to let it settle in, surprise has turned towards excitement. They’re locked in at four spots in their starting five and have a very strong young foundation going forward.

Leah Nemeth: “It’s a story about love, deception, greed, lust and unbridled enthusiasm…” Surely there’s a Seinfeld meme for this, I pondered. I called my grandma and texted all the special people in my life. Was this monumental news? No. I just wanted everyone to know that the Cavs landed an All-Star who actually wants to be in Cleveland, where length and hustle are all of a sudden sexy. It feels nice to be wanted. It feels fun to be cool, just being you.

Corey Walsh: I struggle to find where I fall on the Donovan Mitchell trade days later. Initially, I felt gutted as losing the identity of a young team grinding out wins to push in the chips and expedite the timeline. The more it sits with me I obviously am very excited to see the Cavs be looked at in terms of young talent and expectations in the same vein as Boston or Memphis. Overall, I find myself having to mentally reshuffle all the internal discussions I have been having in my head for the Cavaliers.

Mike Anguilano: The Cavs are going for it. You don’t make that kind of move without knowing that the core of the current roster is or looks like it will be really, really good. Koby Altman sensed what most NBA fans and analysts harped on all season - Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen are really good. Donovan Mitchell not only adds to that core, but makes Cleveland an immediate, dangerous team with a blend of offense and interior defense. The East may not run through Cleveland right now, but it very well could soon.

Your expectations for the Cavs are now ____ .

Mack Perry: Complicated to say the least. Cleveland indeed has fielded a very talented roster over the past few seasons and should be able to compete with most teams in a deep Eastern Conference. Last season teased that they had transcended past the rebuilding stage and were about to embark on a journey towards the upper echelon of the east but were constantly bombarded by injuries. This move should solidify them as a low seed at the very least. I expect them to conclude the 2022-23 season as the fourth seed.

Evan Dammarell: Anything short of making the playoffs outright will be a disappointment. I don’t think Cleveland is quite ready to be in the same conversation as Milwaukee, Boston, Philadelphia and possibly Brooklyn based on how this season will go. But, they have enough talent to separate themselves from Miami, Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta and, of course, New York. Acquiring a star doesn’t make things absolute for the Cavs but it certainly accelerates expectations.

Leah Nemeth: It’s interesting when you read local coverage of the trade in places like the Chicago market, for example. They appear a bit intimidated by the news, no? But, paper as you know, is just a dead tree. How will things click? Is Mitchell the ball dominant, shaky-shot-selector that my sweet and lovely, NBA-fantasy obsessed grandma paints him to be? I believe Cleveland is just shaped differently in a way that hero ball doesn’t have the space to exist. Assuming health is on our side, I confidently place the Cavs as a top-5 seed in the East, and told grandma that we’re reviving the family Cavs playoff parties.

Corey Walsh: To compete for a playoff spot instead of the expected play-in spot. The east is highly competitive and deep this season. I think most Cavs fans should also remember that the NBA is not like 2K in the sense where you just plug and play players on the court and it automatically translates. I think there will be obvious road bumps for the Cavs this season in figuring out how the offense will work itself out. I also believe this roster is not close to being moved around and tinkered with. It will be a fun year for sure but it could also not be as glorious as some fans who are already hanging up banners think it’ll be.

Mike Anguilano: The Cavs had raised expectations coming into the season. Playoffs or bust was a reasonable outlook, given the growth seen last year. But now, they are a playoff lock in the Eastern Conference. My expectation is that they are into the second round of the playoffs, marking Cleveland’s first playoff win sans LeBron James since 1992-1993.

What do you think of the price Cleveland paid?

Mack Perry: They paid quite the toll to acquire Mitchell. Collin Sexton’s departure doesn’t sting when the player returning is also a high-level scorer. The loss of Ochai Agbaji is bothersome, but was likely a necessary sacrifice that I can live with. The biggest loss here has got to be Lauri Markkanen. The spacing he provided was a big factor in making the lineup work for large stretches of the season. That one hurt and does leave questions at the three-spot. The draft capitol sent out doesn’t bother me considering the team could be a title contender sooner than expected.

Evan Dammarell: The Cavs have been in asset accumulation mode for quite a while after LeBron’s second exodus from the team. They were equipped to make a move like this and should only do so if they believed in their heart of hearts that it would be a difference maker in the Eastern Conference. But, due to how last season went they weren’t necessarily pressed to make a move either.

With that said, top-20 players like Mitchell don’t become available on a regular basis and if a team like Cleveland is able to strike on it, it would be remiss of them not to. Especially if they think Mitchell will be able to get them to over 50 wins this season. No one can predict how the season will go but if it punches the Cavaliers a ticket to the playoffs nets them possible homecourt advantage, it’ll be worth it. Like Mack said, losing Markkanen stings in a vacuum (I don’t think he’s that important to overall team success) and now creates more questions than answers at the three. Thankfully, there are a few interesting eggs Cleveland could crack if they want to consolidate things again and add a bonafide starting wing into the mix.

Leah Nemeth: “You see, Elaine, Billy was a simple country boy – you might say a cockeyed optimist..” Is Collin Sexton the modern day Billy Mumphrey? I suppose we will never know. But something sad happened in my soul when I became more upset about losing Ochai Agbaji, than I was about Sexton. “Praise be, the Sexton wars are over!” I proclaimed. It was written on walls, on billboards on stat sheets… whispers among friends “We’re better without him.” As mentioned previously, hero ball simply has no home here, and I feel – just maybe at times – Sexton went a little too Batman on us. Here’s the thing: I’ll enjoy watching Sexton and Agbaji getting jazzy in Utah, as the Cavs comfortably eye the playoffs vs. next year’s draft class.

Corey Walsh: To the naked eye, it seems as if the Cavs’ swindled the Jazz by trading Lauri, Collin, and Ochai. In my eyes, the Cavs’ gave up three integral pieces of this upcoming season. While that is the price to pay for a top 25 player in today’s league who has shown he is a playoff performer, I still won’t act like this won’t cause serious growing pains. Lauri was integral to the success of last season’s team as he allowed for the tall ball lineup that garnered so much attention last year. If you get rid of the starting three you would believe that there would be the rookie to fill the gaps but he as well has been shipped out. Collin is a story for another day, I’m sure a certain twitter personality, in particular, has more than enough to say about him to fill that conversation. The price is always steep for premier talent. I am just skeptical that it won’t throw a hitch in the good vibes.

Mike Anguilano: If you had told me back in July that the Cavaliers could get Donovan Mitchell without giving up Garland, Mobley, or Allen, I would have scoffed. But Koby Altman did it, at the cost of essentially five unprotected first-round picks. The draft capital given up is high, and rightfully so. Losing Sexton, who championed the post-LeBron team through some difficult times, stings. Collin gets his money and a chance to rebuild his value, which he may not have been able to do here. As several of my colleagues noted above, Markkanen may be the biggest loss - not because he is better, but because of how he was used. The Cavs are quite thin on the wing, with Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman, and Lamar Stevens the only real options. Is it a lot to give up? Yes, it is. But that is the cost of getting one of the top young players in the league. The Cavs swung big, and now have a young core that could dominate the Eastern Conference for years and years to come.