Sometimes, the ideal scenario doesn't unfold the way you
For Donovan Mitchell, the alternative could actually become the
best-case solution for his career long-term.
Exiting the Utah Jazz's rebuild has now vaulted Mitchell into a
position where he can reap the benefits in spades as the Cleveland
Cavaliers' new star shooting guard flanked by multiple All-Star
During his introductory press conference in
Cleveland on Wednesday, Mitchell opened up about the
topsy-turvy period where his future was in limbo. Mitchell knew the
writing was on the wall for months, but the end result certainly
caught him by surprise, as the Jazz tore it all down in a
full-scale rebuild. Both Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were shipped off
for seven future first-round picks and a number of intriguing young
players to develop under new head coach Will Hardy, whose vision is
being put together in Salt Lake City.
“Yeah, obviously all summer I didn’t say much. But for me it was
once Rudy got traded I kind of saw the writing on the wall. I think
we all did. I think we understood we had a good run,” Mitchell
said. “I kind of had a feeling that I was going to get moved. I
thought it was New York, I’m not going to lie to you all. Who
doesn’t want to be home next to their mom? I haven’t lived at home
since I was like in the eighth grade, I’ve been in boarding school,
it would have been nice.
"But for me, once I found out I got traded and what we’re going
into, that trumped everything for me. I’m truly excited to be here,
be part of this group, be part of this city. You saw I had the Cavs
jersey on when I was like 5 or 6, whatever it was. I was a LeBron
fan, but I was a Cleveland fan. My man’s over there (PA announcer
Ahmaad Crump) saying Cleveland Cavaliers; I was saying that at the
house. It’s crazy how life comes full circle. Being able to be a
part of that, between the fire and the intros, I remember the
little things, I love playing in this arena. So to be here, I’m
Mitchell's public peeling of the curtain for the first time
since his departure brought forth some interesting details. Not
only did Mitchell believe he was gone after Gobert’s move to the
Minnesota Timberwolves on July 1, but he’s put in the hours of work
to rebound from another unceremonious postseason exit.
“Yes and no. I mean, I had a feeling,” Mitchell said of his exit
from Utah. “You guys (the media) do what you guys do and there's
always articles about it, about what could happen. No matter how
much you try to ignore it, I'm not gonna be naive; we all have
phones, we have technology, we have Twitter, we have Instagram. So
we see it. But that wasn't a thought during the year. After we
lost, that wasn't a thought for a little bit. Pretty much every
question after we lost, I really wasn't thinking about it.
"But for me, I came into the summer... the last season for me
wasn't my best. And no matter what situation, no matter where I was
at, not matter how we were gonna go about it, I had to come back
and be the best version of myself and just put that work in. Left
the season healthy; I came in, my ankle's feeling good, and the
thing for me, that was just a blessing itself being able to come
into a summer ready to go. Obviously, it happened and things
change, and I'm blessed.”
With the Knicks always out in front of the Mitchell sweepstakes,
the New York native was already having visions of playing inside
Madison Square Garden for years to come. A homecoming for Mitchell
remained at the forefront of his mind as he awaited his true fate,
but the process leading him to an even more stacked roster with
long-term sustainability instantly washed those feelings away of
not ending up a Knick.
“Yeah, so I honestly had no idea," Mitchell admitted. "AB
(Mitchell’s agent Austin Brown) called me on a Wednesday and said,
'You’re going to Cleveland.' And like I said, my reaction was what
it was. But all summer I really didn’t say much, I just kind of let
you guys do what you guys do and I thought for sure I was going
back home, I’m not going to lie about that.
"But when I found out where I was headed and who I was playing
with, the group, the team, the coaching staff, I couldn’t be more
happier to be here, and be a part of this organization and be part
of this group to join each and all of those guys, the attitude and
I’m truly excited about it...
Now forming one of the most well-balanced starting units in the
East, Mitchell and the Cavaliers are poised to make serious noise
in 2021-22 and beyond. Cleveland knows the risk it took shipping
off control of its drafts to Utah through 2029, but the investment
into its young core adding in the star was too good to pass up on.
A three-year recruiting pitch to Mitchell is well underway, and the
win-loss results will be monitored closely until his player option
decision arrives in 2025.
Until then, Mitchell knows what lies in front of him. This is a
golden opportunity to boost his stock and become the missing
element to a sleeping giant of a contender.
Now, the fun part starts beginning the next chapter of his
career in Cleveland alongside Garland, Mobley, Allen and a roster
ready to reach heights he and the Cavs hope could surpass what he
accomplished in Utah.