Former Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell was introduced as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. He provided some insight into the mixed emotions he felt when the Jazz-Cavalier exchange went down.
“I thought for sure I was going back home, I’m not gonna lie about that,” Mitchell told reporters on Wednesday during his first Cavs press conference. “Who doesn’t want to be home next to their mom?”
Mitchell then pivoted on the opportunity that playing for Cleveland represents.
“Once I found out I got traded and what I was going into, that trumped everything for me,” he said. “I’m truly excited to be here and be part of this group and be a part of this city. … To be here, I’m truly excited.”
Reading between the lines, it appears that this is a three-year rental for Cleveland, but at the end of the day, you can’t blame the ex-Jazzman for wanting to go back home.
It feels similar to Paul George being traded to the Oklahoma Thunder before ending up in Los Angeles, which is only an hour away from where he was born and raised.
Also, even after former Toronto Raptors All-Star Kawai Leonard won a championship, he still opted to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. Leonard was born in Los Angeles while being raised in Moreno Valley, California.
That’s how these deals usually play themselves out, but the Cavs can still make it worth it if they can bring a title home in the next three years. The Cavs have a star-studded lineup that will be in the conversation as a top seed in an Eastern Conference that has no clear-cut favorite.
If the Cavs can get close to title contention this year, then Mitchell will likely be in Cleveland until he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2025.
On the other hand, if Cleveland falls short of expectations, the Cavaliers front office will be faced with the same decision that Utah had this offseason. Do you ride it out with the likelihood that Mitchell will ultimately find his way back home, or do you cut bait and acquire some assets for the future?
Time will only tell, but Utah has put Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in new NBA locales where they have a shot at a championship.
Could it be Gobert vs. Mitchell in the 2023 NBA Finals? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Follow Patrick on Twitter @pbyrnesNBA.