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In blockbuster NBA trade, Cavaliers to acquire All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell from Jazz

Donovan Mitchell, who averaged 25.9 points per game last season with the Jazz, is one of the league's elite scorers.Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

In a significant deal that bolstered one of the NBA’s most promising young cores, the Cleveland Cavaliers agreed Thursday to acquire three-time all-star guard Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz, two people with knowledge of the deal confirmed.

The Jazz will receive Collin Sexton, Lauri Markannen, Ochai Agbaji, three unprotected first-round picks and two pick swaps in the trade. Sexton, who entered the summer as a restricted free agents, arrives in Utah as part of a sign-and-trade agreement that will pay him $72 million over the next four years.

Utah will get Cleveland’s picks in 2025, 2027 and 2029 as well as swap rights in 2026 and 2028. After previously acquiring Walker Kessler, the 22nd pick in this year’s draft in a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier this summer, Utah will add the 22-year-old Agbaji, who was the 14th player selected.


Mitchell, 25, had been the subject of trade speculation all summer, following Jazz CEO Danny Ainge’s trade of franchise center Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves for a massive haul that included four first-round picks and a number of players, including Kessler. That blockbuster move signaled Utah was eyeing a total rebuild, meaning that Mitchell was likely the next domino to fall.

Mitchell appeared ticketed for the Knicks, but instead, he'll be with the Cavaliers.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

For weeks, Mitchell had been linked in rumors to the New York Knicks, who have been pursuing talent upgrades and possess a treasure chest of tradable assets that other teams might find hard to match. Mitchell is from the greater New York metropolitan area, and he was spotted at Mets games this summer, fueling talk that he would inevitably wind up on the Knicks.

However, New York effectively pulled RJ Barrett, one of its most prominent assets, off the table this week by giving him a large contract extension that included a so-called “poison pill” provision, making him very difficult to deal directly to Utah. What’s more, the Knicks’ price for including Barrett, their top rising talent, in a deal for Mitchell was unclear.


By pivoting to a deal with Cleveland, Utah achieved its goal of adding significant draft capital to its war chest while also acquiring a stand-in for Mitchell in Sexton, a 6-foot-3-inch scoring guard who averaged 24.3 points per game in 2020-21 before missing most of last season with a knee injury.

The Jazz, which earlier this week traded Patrick Beverley to the Los Angeles Lakers, still have additional veterans in Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, and Mike Conley Jr. that it could move before the trade deadline.

Collin Sexton is one of several players the Jazz received in exchange for Mitchell.Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Cleveland was in position to pay a hefty price for Mitchell, having accumulated two All-Stars in guard Darius Garland and center Jarrett Allen plus a potential franchise player in Evan Mobley, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft. By adding Mitchell, a talented scorer and proven playoff performer, the Cavaliers will be able to ease Garland’s playmaking burden. Meanwhile, Mobley and Allen form one of the NBA’s best interior defensive duos, helping to cover for Mitchell’s limitations on that end.

Mitchell, who turns 26 next week, was selected by Utah 13th overall in the 2017 draft and quickly blossomed into one of the league’s best scorers, averaging a team-high 25.9 points per game last season. The Louisville product is entering the second year of a five-year, $163 million contract extension that runs through the 2025-26 season, with a player option on the final season.


Sexton, 23, was the 18th pick in the 2018 draft, while Markkanen, 25, will join his third team in three years after previous stints with the Chicago Bulls and the Timberwolves.