Lakers guard Austin Reaves would be part of a major package to add Donovan Mitchell.

Getty Lakers guard Austin Reaves would be part of a major package to add Donovan Mitchell.

Slowly but surely, the NBA is putting to bed the quickly closed Finals and moving on to the summer revamping season, and few teams have a more interesting set of possibilities ahead of them as the Lakers. Though much has changed for the team after the drama of the recently resolved coaching search, around the league, the team’s No. 1 wish-list candidate as we get into trade season remains the same: Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell.

Unfortunately for L.A., it remains unclear what, exactly, will happen with Mitchell this summer. He is eligible to sign a max extension worth $208 million to stay on with the Cavs, and there is still a sense that he is open to doing so.

But if, in the coming days, the Cavs determine that they’d be better off clearing out Mitchell, avoiding the financial commitment it would take to get him and building up a core of Darius Garland and Evan Mobley with better role players, Mitchell’s name will come back to the fore on trade talks. And the Lakers would be at the top of the teams pursuing him.


Donovan Mitchell ‘Still 1 and 1A’

One league executive who spoke with Heavy Sports about a number of Lakers possibilities said, “Donovan Mitchell is still 1 and 1A for them, if there is even a small possibility of a trade. He’s their home-run shot. The perfect world would be, bring in an All-Star who can play with LeBron (James) and Anthony Davis, then can take over for LeBron when he retires. Mitchell is (27), you can still get eight, nine, 10 years out of him.

“Other than that, they like their team and they’re gonna make changes—important changes for those role players—but probably more around the margins.”

For nearly two months now, the gathering sentiment in the league has been that Mitchell would stay put in Cleveland, willing to take the max four-year, $208 million contract the Cavs can offer, and while there has been no reporting to suggest that Mitchell wants out, there has also been nothing suggesting he is committed to Cleveland.


Lakers Package Would Be Built Around Austin Reaves

If Mitchell does say he won’t sign, the Cavaliers will quickly look to get him on the market. The Lakers could certainly be outbid by other teams—Miami first among them—but their offer would be a pretty strong baseline for the Cavs.

Mitchell is coming off a year in which he averaged 26.6 points with 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists, shooting 46.2% from the field and 36.8% from the 3-point line. All that, and he is only 27 years old.

Knowing that, the Lakers would have to start with Austin Reaves, who bounced back from a slow start to the season to average 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists, while shooting 48.6% from the field. Key reserve Rui Hachimura (13.6 points, 53.7% shooting) would also have to be in the deal, and last year’s first-round pick—Jalen Hood-Schifino—could be a low-cost gamble for the Cavs, too.

Add the three future first-rounders, and that’s about as all-or-nothing as the Lakers could afford to go. The Cavs get some very good role players and the picks are enticing, but it’s not much of a return for a Top 20 star in the league.

Still, given what you’d have to pay Mitchell, the market might be a little warped for him this summer. That, at least, gives the Lakers a shot at their home run target.

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