Even before the Cavaliers announced that Darius Garland and Evan Mobley would be out for at least a month, there were questions surrounding Donovan Mitchell's future with the organization. With no big-name star on the trade market, Mitchell has (again) been identified as a possible trade target for the New York Knicks.
After finishing as the No. 4 seed last season in the East with 51 wins, Cleveland sits at No. 8 with a 14-12 record through the first 26 games of 2023-24. Now, with no Garland (broken jaw) and Mobley (knee), the Cavaliers are expected to rack up more losses than wins until their two stars are back.
Mitchell didn't sign an extension before the season and could pass up the opportunity to sign a larger extension during the offseason. If so, Cleveland would have to think about trading him. Guess what? If that happens, New York is expected to re-enter the race for the star guard.
The Cavaliers being without Garland and Mobley for an extended period doesn't help their case in securing a top-six seed to make a deep playoff run. Understandably, that has led to more questions about Mitchell's future, but that isn't a topic he wants to discuss.
Donovan Mitchell is focused on Cavaliers, not trade rumors
After Cleveland beat Atlanta on Saturday, Joe Vardon of The Athletic asked Donovan Mitchell about his future (subscription required), to which the guard said:
"My job is to focus on this,” Mitchell said, cutting off my question about his future. “We have two guys that are out, so I’m not answering anything. And no disrespect. I appreciate that you have to ask the question, but I’m not going there with any of those questions. My focus is on these guys being out, us trying to find a way to get wins."- Donovan Mitchell, via The Athletic
If you remember, at the end of the 2021-22 season, Mitchell never publicly requested a trade. He didn't publicly say he wanted to go to the Knicks. In what was a long two months of the offseason, Mitchell remained in the shadows and stayed patient until the Jazz got their wish of three unprotected first-round picks from the Cavaliers.
If you thought Mitchell would give up on Cleveland or hint that he wanted to leave at any point during the 2023-24 season, think again. That doesn't mean he'll commit long-term to the Cavaliers this summer, but as long as he's suiting up for the team, his focus will remain on winning with Cleveland.
The offseason will be very telling for Donovan Mitchell's future. Maybe he'll finally become a Knick, maybe not.