The Cleveland Cavaliers are far worse off than the Utah Jazz were

The Utah Jazz no longer have a Donovan Mitchell problem, but the Cleveland Cavaliers do.
2023 NBA All Star Game
2023 NBA All Star Game / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

Thank goodness for the headaches the Utah Jazz no longer have to deal with. The Jazz traded away one of their best players ever after just re-signing him to a new contract. The deal made Mitchell beyond rich, and the Jazz soon made him an ex-member of the Jazz. They shipped him and his then-long contract off to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji, and picks.

The contract was then four years long. Now, Mitchell has only one guaranteed year left on his deal after this season, and the Cavs may need to trade him this offseason. After all, if they don't trade him this offseason, they have to hope to re-sign him to a new deal, because if he goes into 2025 without a new deal, the Cavs will have no leverage in any potential trades.

This scenario was always expected but now that it's here it reminds us all of how much worse things are for the Cavs.

While Mitchell, technically, is under contract until 2026, that 2025-2026 season is only under a player option, so Mitchell has to opt-in to that final year, otherwise he becomes a free agent. This has now put the Cavs right where the Jazz were. Do they, like the Jazz, keep trying to run it back, hoping Mitchell will stay in Utah, or do you trade him for what you can and accept whatever your new reality is?

It's possible that if the Knicks and Mitchell are truly interested in a pairing, that a trade would be necessary for it to happen regardless, and if that's the case, then the Cavs could probably get something or someone back for Mitchell. Granted, trading Mitchell to the Knicks is a pretty bad scenario for the Cavs, as they have even less negotiation power than normally, but that's where Mitchell has long rumored to want to go.

So the Cavs have two options from that point. The first is to trade Mitchell to the Knicks and get back something, with the idea that the Knicks may not have the money to sign him outright, while the other option is to run with him until he opts out, hoping to win an NBA Championship along the way.

The Cavs don't have a lot of options otherwise, because if they trade him with just one guaranteed year left on his contract, then the team that wants to trade for him likely won't give up much back. After all, why trade huge assets for Mitchell if Mitchell is gone after just one season?

So even if the Cavs opt to trade him this offseason, it may be too late.

Now, there's always the possibility that the Cavs deal him to a team like the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, or wherever and pair him up with a superstar teammate that he loves so much that he opts to stay there and sign a new deal. That's possible, but with all the rumors about the New York Knicks, not entirely likely.

There's also the possibility that Mitchell opts to stay in Cleveland, though that seems like the most unlikely of situations.