Scott: Let’s start by looking at this for the Cavaliers that left. Ideally, Collin Sexton’s camp wanted $20 million annually. Getting $18 million annually is a win overall for a guy that missed most of last season with a torn meniscus. From what I heard, Cleveland was not willing to go above the luxury tax or move assets like a draft pick of some kind to shed Cedi Osman’s salary theoretically to pay Sexton closer to that $18 million annual range. In the end, with Sexton prepared to take the qualifying offer for this season and unrestricted free agency looming next summer, Cleveland didn’t want to lose him for nothing. By including Sexton in the Donovan Mitchell trade, it worked out well for both slides.
Cleveland’s going to have to replace some shooting with the losses of Lauri Markkanen and Ochai Agbaji. There are a boatload of draft picks going to Utah, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal since the Cavaliers are projected to be a playoff team for years to come. Utah appears to be banking on Mitchell opting out of his deal after three seasons and not wanting to stay in Cleveland long-term, or else those unprotected draft picks and pick swaps in the years to come won’t have as much value.
Cleveland now has four potential guys in Mitchell, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, that are potential All-Stars contractually locked in for a minimum of the next three years. They are still $2.5 million below the luxury tax and can comfortably sign a 15th player to a veteran minimum deal, according to our HoopsHype salary cap expert Yossi Gozlan.
Fyodor: The background here is the two teams spoke at Vegas Summer League. At that time, the Cavaliers got the feeling from Utah that the price was going to be too high, and there were going to be other teams out there that could’ve met Utah’s asking price.
As the offseason progressed and New York continued to take the approach they took, Utah continued to have Mitchell on the roster, and they were fielding offers from other teams, the Cavaliers started to get the feeling that they might be in this thing.
Jazz GM Justin Zanik and Cavaliers President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman are closed. They have a personal and working relationship. Of all the executives around the NBA, I think Koby is probably closest to Zanik. The two organizations have done multiple trades in the past. Having that foundation of working with each other in the past, I think helped this. Three weeks ago, Koby went to Justin saying, “Is there a package you like from us enough that doesn’t include Garland, Mobley, or Allen?” Build something there, and they’d see if there was a path to getting something done.
If Utah or any other teams this offseason asked for Garland, Allen, or Mobley, that was going to be a non-starter for the Cavaliers. Those are the franchise pillars they’re going to build around and have made that commitment already.
When New York made the decision to extend RJ Barrett, Altman went back to Zanik and asked if they could get something done. About 48 hours after re-engaging, it got done.
Before the Mitchell trade, we’d be saying how close are the Cavaliers to Chicago, Toronto, Atlanta, and New York. Can they avoid the Play-In Tournament? Now, with Mitchell on board and the team being relatively close to what it was last year when they won 44 games, it’s more about how high up in the East they belong. Do they belong with Boston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and Miami?
Scott: I’m curious how it goes for Cleveland because if they’re winning over the next few years, then the question for Donovan Mitchell long-term would be whether he wants to stay in the market.