Sep 1, 2022 - Sports

Utah Jazz trade Donovan Mitchell, move into rebuild phase

Former Utah Jazz player Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell before a playoff game during his last season in Utah. Photo by Cooper Neill/NBAE via Getty Images

The Utah Jazz traded All-Star Donovan Mitchell Thursday afternoon.

Details: The Jazz are sending Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, Collin Sexton, three first-round picks and two other pick swaps.

Why it matters: By moving on from the face of the franchise, Utah is officially in rebuild mode.

  • Mitchell has played his entire five-year career with the Jazz and was an All-Star the past three seasons.
  • He's consistently among the league leaders in points per game, including a memorable playoff run in the 2020 NBA bubble in which he scored 57 and 51 points in two games.

Yes, but: His offensive prowess hasn't translated to postseason success. While the Jazz made the playoffs each season during Mitchell's tenure, they failed to make it out of the first round three times.

Off the court: Mitchell has been a leading voice in social justice issues that have plagued America over the past few years.

  • He donned a "Say her name" jersey to honor Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in Louisville — where Mitchell went to college.
  • He also spoke out after a mural of George Floyd was vandalized in Salt Lake City.
  • Mitchell also pushed back against the state Legislature's attempt to ban Critical Race Theory in schools, which drew the ire of Senate President Stuart Adams.

Yes, and: After being the center of criticism on national television from Shaquille O'Neal, the Legislature passed a resolution supporting the Jazz player.

  • As part of the resolution, lawmakers moved to make the "spida" — Mitchell's nickname — the official arachnid of the state.

What's next: The Jazz' streak of six consecutive playoff appearances will almost certainly come to an end in 2023.

  • The Jazz already traded defensive stalwart Rudy Gobert for four first-round draft picks and one swap.
  • And former head coach Quin Snyder stepped down in June after eight seasons in Utah.

What we're watching: Mitchell makes his return on Jan. 10, when the Cavs visit Vivint Arena.

  • The Jazz and Cleveland play one other time next year, on Dec. 19 in northeast Ohio.
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