Donovan Mitchell extension could signal a bigger problem for Knicks' rival

All might not be well in Cavs Land.
New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Donovan Mitchell
New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Donovan Mitchell / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Two years ago, the rumblings started. The New York Knicks were armed with their draft assets, and a top guard was set to hit the trade market. After two months of discussions, the Jazz traded Donovan Mitchell to the Cavaliers.

The Knicks were clowned for "missing out" on Mitchell, but Jalen Brunson's emergence quieted the naysayers. It helps that New York beat Cleveland in five games in the first round of the 2023 playoffs.

Cleveland traded for Mitchell hoping he'd be in Ohio for the long haul, but that didn't put the trade rumors to rest. Even in the 2023 offseason, many assumed the star guard would still find his way to the Knicks. However, as the 2023-24 season went on, it became more and more evident that New York no longer needed Mitchell.

Entering this offseason, he wasn't the top target on the Knicks' radar. He might not have even been a target at all. New York cashed in some of its assets for Mikal Bridges before Mitchell agreed to sign a three-year extension with Cleveland. The Cavaliers locked in their top player but could lose another key piece.

Darius Garland could be traded after Donovan Mitchell extension

After the Cavaliers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, The Athletic's Shams Charania, Joe Vardon, and Jason Lloyd gave their insight on what a Mitchell extension could mean for Darius Garland (subscription required).

"Should Mitchell decide to stay long term, sources briefed on the matter say Garland’s representation, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, would have a conversation with Cavs officials on potentially finding a new home for the one-time All-Star."

The Athletic

On Monday (before the Mitchell extension was official), Lloyd was a guest on 92.3 The Fan. He said that Garland's trade value is down but that Cleveland still hopes to receive a solid return in a potential deal.

Garland is entering the second season of the five-year, $197 million contract he signed with the Cavaliers. If Cleveland hopes to receive something similar to what it gave up for Mitchell in 2022, the front office will be disappointed.

Maybe Garland's sentiment about being traded has changed. ESPN's Brian Windhorst said he isn't sure that Garland wants to be traded or that his representation will ask for one.

Klutch Sports represents the guard. The Lakers did LeBron James a solid by drafting his son Bronny in the second round, but the 39-year-old wants more than that. Los Angeles missed out on Klay Thompson and Chris Paul, so LeBron could push for a Garland trade.

If Garland requests a trade, the Cavaliers will be in scramble mode. While it certainly helps that Mitchell signed an extension, Cleveland still isn't considered a top team in the East.

The Celtics will have their starting five back, the Knicks re-signed OG Anunoby and traded for Bridges, the Sixers signed Paul George and added depth, the Bucks will always be competitive with Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Magic made a big free agency splash with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Even if Garland stays (at least until the 2024 deadline), that doesn't automatically mean the Cavaliers will contend in a stacked conference. If he requests a trade, the situation could become a disaster for Cleveland.

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