Suns Rivals Named Top Landing Spot for Donovan Mitchell

The Phoenix Suns could see a lot more of Donovan Mitchell.
Mar 31, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) during the
Mar 31, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) during the / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX -- The Western Conference is already tough sledding for teams trying to fight through the postseason, though the presence of another star could make the talent pool even deeper come playoff time.

The Phoenix Suns are well aware of what Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell can do, and if the Cavaliers eventually do make good on rumors to trade the All-Star player, the Los Angeles Lakers are the top candidate according to Bleacher Report.

"Any team that trades for Mitchell would need assurances that he'll sign an extension after the mandatory six-month waiting period or re-sign as a free agent in 2025. Given the Lakers' market and James' age, the franchise would probably feel confident about selling a Mitchell/Davis long-term pairing," wrote Eric Pincus.

"The Lakers are hard-capped the first apron ($172.3 million) through the rest of this league year, so any Mitchell trade must wait until July. The New Orleans Pelicans have the right to take either the Lakers' 2024 or 2025 first-round pick, but the Lakers can trade the other one. They can also offer two additional first-rounders (2029 and 2021) and up to five second-rounders after this year's draft.

"In terms of outgoing players, the Lakers can reach Mitchell's salary with D'Angelo Russell (if he picks up his $18.7 million player option) and Rui Hachimura. Other combinations could include players like Austin Reaves, Gabe Vincent and Jarred Vanderbilt, along with lower-paid players like Jalen Hood-Schifino, Maxwell Lewis, Christian Wood, Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish. To be dealt, the last three would have to pick up their respective player options.

"The Lakers must send at least $35.4 million in outgoing salary to avoid a 2024-25 hard cap at the first apron (projected to be $178.7 million). That outgoing amount can dip to $28.1 million if they're willing to be hard-capped, but that might be impractical if James returns in the $50 million range.

"The NBA's new collective bargaining also generally eliminated teams' ability to throw in more than one minimum contract for salary-matching purposes during the offseason. For example, the Lakers can only send one of Lewis, Wood, Hayes or Reddish to reach the $28.1 million or $35.4 million outgoing salary to take back Mitchell."

It's a star-driven league, and rivals around the Suns only look to add more powerful names to contend in what's considered to be the harshest Western Conference top to bottom in some time.

That's not changing soon, especially if Mitchell winds up in Los Angeles like rumors suggest.

Donnie Druin