After the New York Knicks temporarily walked away on talks Monday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers aggressively pursued and acquired three-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell in a trade with the Utah Jazz on Thursday, sources told ESPN.
The Cavaliers are sending the Jazz forward 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) for Mitchell, sources said.
Sexton has agreed on a four-year, $72 million sign-and-trade deal to join the Jazz, his agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, told ESPN.
The deal transforms the Cavaliers into an Eastern Conference contender with potential staying power, adding Mitchell to a lineup that includes two 2022 All-Stars — guard Darius Garland and center Jarrett Allen — and Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley, who appears destined to become an All-NBA player.
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) September 1, 2022
As Utah reshapes its roster with offseason trades of All-Star Rudy Gobert and now Mitchell, the franchise has 13 unprotected or lightly protected first-round picks through 2029 and two 2022 first-round picks, including Kansas’ Agbaji and 7-footer Walker Kessler, who arrived with four first-round picks from Minnesota.
Cleveland president of basketball operations Koby Altman had been in discussions with the Jazz through late last week, but ended talks Friday when the two teams couldn’t reach an agreement, sources said. Nevertheless, Altman reached back out to Utah general manager Justin Zanik on Tuesday morning and started the talks again, sources said. Within 48 hours, they had a deal for Mitchell.
New York had the assets Utah preferred and the sides seemed to be inching closer to a trade Sunday night and into Monday, but the Knicks balked on including Quentin Grimes in a trade with RJ Barrett to acquire Mitchell, sources said.
When guard Immanuel Quickley was proposed as a replacement for Grimes in the trade, Utah wanted three unprotected first-round draft picks as part of the package — but New York would only do a third first-round pick that included top-five protections, sources said. Those packages would’ve included Milwaukee’s 2025 first round pick, two second-round picks, two pick swaps and two expiring contracts from a third team, sources said. New York would’ve moved out Evan Fournier and first-round pick to a third team to spare Utah taking on Fournier’s remaining $37 million, sources said.
New York and Utah discussed numerous iterations of a Mitchell trade, including a significant Knicks’ initial offer in early July prior to Mitchell Robinson signing his contract extension. Near the start of talks in early July, New York offered a package that would’ve included Barrett, Obi Toppin, Robinson and three unprotected first-round picks, sources told ESPN. Utah turned down that offer, and Robinson signed his extension, essentially eliminating the possibility he could become a part of a deal.
While in trade talks with Utah, New York president Leon Rose was running a parallel negotiation with Barrett’s agent, Bill Duffy, on a rookie contract extension and set Monday night as a deadline with the Jazz to get a deal — or pause talks to finalize a new deal with Barrett, sources said. Barrett’s deal — four years and worth up to $120 million, Duffy told ESPN — added a “poison pill” provision to his contract until next July and would’ve forced the Knicks and Jazz to restart talks with new deal parameters based on the extension.
New York planned to continue pursuing Mitchell, sources said, but the Jazz pivoted to the Cleveland discussions and never again engaged the Knicks in talks this week, sources said. The Knicks had made a calculated gamble that they could still get a deal done for Mitchell. Born in the New York area, Mitchell had been enthusiastic about the possibility of playing for the Knicks, sources said.
Mitchell became available in trade talks after the Jazz moved Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves in July. Mitchell, 25, has averaged 23.9 points and 4.5 assists per game during his five-year career with the Jazz, and he has been an All-Star each of the past three seasons. He has four years and $134.9 million remaining on the maximum extension he signed during the 2020 offseason, though the final season is a player option for $37.1 million.
Utah has made the playoffs the past six seasons, the longest current streak in the Western Conference, but has not advanced past the second round during that span. The organization has undergone major changes in the wake of last season’s first-round exit against the Dallas Mavericks, including the resignation of coach Quin Snyder, the hiring of Will Hardy to replace him and the trades of Gobert and starting forward Royce O’Neale.