Tue. Jan 31st, 2023

Donovan Mitchell was formally introduced as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. After being greeted at the airport by a legion of diehard fans, he then addressed the media during his introductory press conference. The weeks and months leading up to his eventual trade were, of course, a key subject. 

During one answer, Mitchell said he didn’t know where he was going to be traded, but assumed it would be to the New York Knicks.

“Honestly I had no idea. My agent called me on a Wednesday and said ‘You’re going to Cleveland.’ Like I said my reaction was what it was. All summer I didn’t really say much, I kind of just let you guys do what you do to be honest. I thought for sure I was going back home, not gonna lie about that. But when I found out where I was headed, who I was playing with, the group, the team, the coaching staff. I couldn’t be more happier to be here, to be a part of this organization, to be a part of this group, to join these phenomenal guys and add to it. That for me is what I’m truly excited about.”

Mitchell grew up in Westchester County outside of New York City, and rumors about him joining the Knicks were popular even before it became clear that the Utah Jazz were doing a full teardown. In addition to the hometown connection, Mitchell is repped by CAA Sports — the agency that was formerly run by new Knicks president Leon Rose. 

All of that is great, but when it mattered most, none of it was enough to get the deal over the line. And while Mitchell surely would have enjoyed playing at home and in Madison Square Garden, the Cavaliers are a much better situation when it comes to winning. 

Mitchell’s reaction to learning of the trade proves as much. 

“When I first found out I was golfing, that report was true, and I was running around crazy. Mainly when I figured out who we kept, cause I didn’t know who was in the trade; I just knew I was traded. When I found out we kept DG [Darius Garland] and JA [Jarrett Allen] and Ev [Evan Mobley] and Caris [LeVert] and all these guys I was like, ‘we got a talented group’ — a team that was third in the East and then obviously injuries came about. That was before I got here and now we can just look to continue to win and build. And I’m truly excited just to be a part of this organization, to be here in this city, to have fun playing basketball, playing with a group of guys who really want to win and really want to continue to build. We’re young, but we’re hungry and we’re ready. It’s weird saying I’m probably one of the older guys on the team.” 

On paper, Mitchell appears to be just what the Cavaliers were missing — a dynamic lead scorer who can take over late in games and lessen some of the burden on Darius Garland. Likewise, the Cavaliers have the defensive personnel to cover for his lapses on that side of the ball. 

With Mitchell on board the Cavaliers have one of the most promising young cores in the league. But how smooth will his arrival be? And what level can the Cavaliers get to this season? Those are two of the most interesting questions heading into the season, not just in Cleveland but throughout the league. 

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