First it was Royce O’Neale heading to the Brooklyn Nets. Then Rudy Gobert was dealt to Minnesota for a bucket of draft picks. Patrick Beverley never got to play a game for the Jazz before he was moved along to the Lakers. And today the Jazz teardown continued, as Utah sent its All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers, one week shy of his 26th birthday.
Utah got three unprotected first-rounders and two pick swaps from the Cavs, along with Lauri Markkanen and a signed-and-traded Collin Sexton, in a move that gives Cleveland a third All-Star alongside Jarrett Allen and Warriors legend Winston Garland’s son. But who cares about the Cavaliers when the locker room no longer smells like champagne? How does this affect the defending champion Golden State Warriors?
The obvious result is that the trade officially removes a potential contender from the Western Conference race, if that hadn’t already been clear after the trade of Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves. Utah has traded 3/5 of its starting lineup from last year, and also lost longtime reserve Joe Ingles. They’ve got a giant war chest of draft picks to use on future moves, including three first-rounders in 2029, e.g., three players who weren’t even born when Steph Curry played his first NBA game. And Utah has positioned itself to be firmly in the tankapalooza for presumptive top pick Victor Wembanyama. Utah loves giant French centers!
This also clears a spot on the Western Conference All-Star team for Warriors’ hopefuls at guard. Mitchell has had one of the guard spots on lock since 2020, which opens the door for another Western hopeful. Perhaps five-time All-Star Klay Thompson, shaking off the rust and playing a full season? Or scoring machine and Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jordan Poole, who averaged 18.5 points per game last year despite playing just 30 minutes per game? Even the All-Star hopes of Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green are helped by the vacancy, as voters get to choose two wild cards regardless of position. Sadly, the voters probably won’t send the Ground-Bound Mound of Rebound, Kevon Looney, to the 2023 All-Star Game, which will be held in...Salt Lake City. Guess the idea that Danny Ainge wanted to make sure the game had a hometown star involved turned out not to be true. The fans will love it, because now they can boo all the players involved, and their families.
Utah also cleared a great deal of future salary with their moves, although they did agree to give a four-year contract to Collin Sexton, a guy whose perimeter defense makes Jordan Poole look like Michael Jordan. In theory, and depending on how long they are planning to tank, they could be threat to the Warriors’ upcoming free agent trio of Wiggins, Poole, and Green. If they’re looking for a Mitchell replacement, the Jazz could do a lot worse than throwing a max contract offer Poole’s way.
Finally, after Mitchell heard he was traded, he reportedly ran around a golf course in celebration.
Brian Windhorst says Donovan Mitchell ran around a golf course celebrating getting traded to the Cavs https://t.co/fCG9HddLIX— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) September 1, 2022
That brings up a huge question for Steph Curry. Would he consider casting Mitchell in Season Five of his hit game show Holey Moley? Like the Utah Jazz, Holey Moley may also need to plan for the future, and perhaps an obstacle course is the next step. All we know is if that happens, they better not let Rudy Gobert compete. Mitchell wouldn’t pass him a golf ball either.