Donovan Mitchell traded to Cleveland: What it means for the Cavaliers and Jazz

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To help match salaries for Mitchell, the Cavaliers are signing Sexton to a four-year $72 million deal and trading him to the Jazz, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Assuming his deal has no incentives and has 5 percent maximum raises, his first-year salary could start as low as $16.7 million. His first-year salary will be more than a 20 percent raise from his salary from last season, subjecting his outgoing salary is subjected to Base Year Compensation.

Mitchell has a 15 percent trade bonus but it will be capped at the $30.9 million maximum salary for this season. This raises his salary for this year and the next two seasons by $561,970 each. The Cavaliers will generate a $3.9 million trade exception and now stand $2.5 million below the luxury tax with 14 players with standard contracts. They still have enough room below the tax to sign one more player to a veteran minimum contract, but they could also keep that roster spot open heading into the season.

While Cleveland should have plenty to be excited about now that the Cavaliers are set to be really good for the foreseeable future, they are just about all out of flexibility going forward. Outside of their foundational trio, they traded almost every other positive value asset they could possibly offer to the Jazz, including unprotected first-round picks in 2025, 2027, and 2029. This was the maximum amount of first-rounders they could trade under the Stepien rule. They also included pick swaps in 2026 and 2028.

The Cavaliers still have some question marks on their roster, particularly with their lack of versatile 3-and-D wing players. It’ll be tough for them to make improvements via trade in the short term, though they do have up to 9 second-round picks they can play with. The Cavaliers owe the Pacers a lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick that is likely to convey now, so the soonest they can trade a first-round pick will be their 2024 first-rounder after the selection is made.

Prior to this deal, the Cavaliers were projected to generate $25 million in 2023 cap space provided they don’t add any more long-term salaries. Now that option is likely gone with their commitments to Garland, Allen, and now Mitchell. Now they could look to extend some of their extension-eligible players during the season, such as Caris LeVert, Kevin Love, and Cedi Osman. Mitchell will become extension-eligible in the 2023 offseason, but it’s worth noting that he will not be able to sign a supermax with the Cavaliers even if he meets the criteria since he was only able to with the Jazz.

One other ramification from acquiring Mitchell is that the Cavaliers won’t be able to sign Mobley to a five-year maximum rookie-scale extension when he’s extension-eligible in 2024. This is because the Cavaliers now have two Designated Rookies on their roster through at least 2025 in Mitchell and Garland. Teams are limited to two Designated Rookies at a time, but the Cavaliers can get around this by allowing Mobley to hit restricted free agency in 2025 and re-signing him to a five-year maximum contract then.

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