As the Cleveland Cavaliers become the latest NBA team to fall in the 2024 NBA playoffs and begin their long and treacherous offseason, one of the more intriguing offseason storylines centers around Donovan Mitchell and his future with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rumors are swirling about potential destinations for the All-Star guard, with the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets frequently mentioned due to Mitchell's connections to New York. However, another team that has been quietly but persistently linked to Mitchell is the Atlanta Hawks. This article explores why the Hawks should make a bold move for Mitchell, what they can offer the Cavaliers, and how this trade could reshape the future of both franchises.

Donovan Mitchell's name has been tied to several teams, but the Atlanta Hawks stand out for a few key reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that the Atlanta Hawks have their own all-star guard who has been heavily rumored to be traded this offseason in Trae Young.

Additionally, the Hawks are looking to rebound quickly from a disappointing season and re-establish themselves as contenders. Despite their efforts to cut costs and avoid luxury tax implications, owner Tony Ressler has shown a willingness to invest in a player who can transform the team's fortunes in a way that – whether due to his own play or due to the franchise being unable to give him the pieces needed to succeed is up for debate – Trae Young was unable to. With Mitchell, the Hawks could position themselves as a top-tier team in the East.

The Hawks' assets: crafting the perfect trade package

Spida and Dejounte
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To acquire Donovan Mitchell, the Hawks can leverage several valuable assets. Here’s a potential trade package that Atlanta could offer:

Trae Young: The centerpiece of the trade. Young’s been rumored to be on his way out of ATL and this provides the Cavaliers with an electrifying point guard who can attract fans and deliver offensive fireworks.

Along with a combination of the following pieces:

Clint Capela: A proven rim protector and rebounder, Capela would bolster Cleveland's frontcourt, especially considering the injury issues that have plagued Jarrett Allen.

De'Andre Hunter: A young and promising forward, Hunter could provide the Cavaliers with additional scoring and defensive versatility.

AJ Griffin: As a talented young player with significant upside, Griffin’s inclusion sweetens the deal, offering the Cavs a prospect with potential star quality.

Future Draft Picks: Including one or two first-round picks, possibly leveraging their No. 1 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, would give the Cavaliers valuable assets for future rebuilding or further trades.

This package gives Cleveland a blend of established talent and promising youth, providing them with flexibility and depth.

Mitchell’s impact on the Hawks

Acquiring Donovan Mitchell would have a profound impact on the Hawks. Here’s how:

Dynamic Backcourt: Pairing Mitchell with Dejounte Murray would create a large and dynamic backcourt, combining Mitchell’s scoring prowess with Murray’s defensive capabilities and playmaking skills. Despite neither being a true point guard, Mitchell's experience spacing the court while being a bonafide floor general will allow the two to lead the team from the guard positions regardless.

Scoring Boost: Mitchell’s ability to score at will would alleviate some of the offensive pressure on Murray, allowing him to focus more on his all-around game.

Playoff Experience: Mitchell brings valuable playoff experience and a winning mentality to a Hawks team that has struggled to make deep postseason runs. His presence would be instrumental in high-stakes games.

Star Power and Marketability: Adding a player of Mitchell’s caliber would enhance the Hawks' marketability, boosting ticket sales, merchandise, and overall interest in the team.

From Cleveland’s standpoint, trading Mitchell might seem counterintuitive given his status as the team’s centerpiece. However, the Cavaliers must consider several factors:

Maximizing Value: Mitchell’s value is at its peak, and trading him now could yield a significant return that accelerates their rebuilding process.

Injury Concerns: Mitchell has faced injury issues, particularly during the recent playoff series against the Boston Celtics. Trading him while he is still seen as a top-tier talent might be a prudent move.

Future Flexibility: The return from an Atlanta trade would provide Cleveland with a mix of established players and young prospects, giving them flexibility to build a more balanced and resilient roster.

Roster Needs: The Cavaliers have a clear need for scoring help alongside Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. The assets acquired from Atlanta could be used to address these needs more comprehensively.

The viability of the trade

Trae Young playing
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While rumors are rampant, the viability of such a blockbuster trade hinges on several factors:

Mitchell's Commitment: Mitchell has publicly expressed his commitment to Cleveland, but the allure of playing in a new environment, potentially with a friend like Murray, could sway his decision.

Hawks’ Ownership and Management: Tony Ressler’s willingness to invest in a star player will be crucial. The front office must align with this vision and craft a compelling offer that the Cavaliers can’t refuse.

Cavs’ Long-Term Vision: Cleveland’s front office, led by GM Koby Altman, must decide whether retaining Mitchell aligns with their long-term goals or if a trade would better position them for sustained success.

However, executing a trade of this magnitude is complex and fraught with potential hurdles:

Luxury Tax Concerns: The Hawks need to manage their payroll carefully to avoid luxury tax penalties, especially if they are committing long-term to Mitchell.

Player Preferences: Mitchell’s and Murray’s preferences and their willingness to adapt to new roles will play a significant role in the success of this trade.

Competition from Other Teams: The Knicks, Nets, Heat, and Lakers are all potential suitors for Mitchell. Atlanta’s offer must stand out amid stiff competition.

Conclusion: a bold move for both teams

A trade sending Donovan Mitchell to the Atlanta Hawks could be a transformative move for both franchises. For the Hawks, acquiring Mitchell would signal a commitment to winning and significantly enhance their chances of becoming a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference. For the Cavaliers, trading Mitchell for a combination of established talent and future assets could set them up for long-term success and greater roster flexibility.

The NBA offseason is a time of speculation and bold moves. While challenges abound, the potential rewards make this trade scenario an enticing prospect for both teams. Whether or not it comes to fruition, the mere possibility highlights the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of the league, where strategic decisions and superstar movements continually reshape the landscape.

As the summer progresses, all eyes will be on the Hawks and Cavaliers to see if they can orchestrate a deal that could redefine their futures and potentially shift the balance of power in the NBA.