NBA Hoops

ESPN’s Windhorst floats Houston as possible Donovan Mitchell suitor

ESPN’s Windhorst floats Houston as possible Donovan Mitchell suitor

With only one season left on his current contract, could Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell be traded this summer?

As things stand, Cleveland is on the verge of being eliminated in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, and the Cavs might not want to risk losing Mitchell for no compensation in 2025 — should he indicate uncertainty regarding his long-term plans.

If that’s the case, and Mitchell is unwilling to sign an extension in Cleveland, longtime NBA insider Brian Windhorst is watching a few teams as potential suitors. In a recent television appearance on ESPN, after mentioning the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Brooklyn Nets as teams to watch on the Mitchell front, Windhorst added:

There will probably be more suitors. Houston, potentially.

Mitchell is currently slated to make $35.4 million in the upcoming 2024-25 season, which is when he will be 28 years old.

In terms of a potential deal, the Rockets have sufficient salary matching options. The bigger questions surround asset value.

For starters, would Mitchell be willing to commit to a new contract with the Rockets (41-41), who haven’t yet broken .500 in their current rebuild? If not, it would likely be too risky for Houston to make the peak bid, since Mitchell could leave for no compensation in 2025.

If Mitchell was willing to extend with the Rockets, Houston does have intriguing assets to potentially offer Cleveland between a “core six” of recently drafted first-round prospects (Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, Amen Thompson, and Cam Whitmore); the No. 3 overall pick in the 2024 NBA draft; and three more years of unprotected first-round assets via Brooklyn.

But, with the Rockets not yet on the cusp of immediate title contention, it remains to be seen how many of those younger assets that general manager Rafael Stone would be willing to surrender.

If Mitchell expressed a desire to go to Houston specifically, that leverage might drive down the asking price, since other teams probably wouldn’t bid too aggressively on a player (even an All-Star) who doesn’t want to play there and isn’t willing to commit to his next contract. The question is, why would Mitchell prioritize the improved but still-building Rockets to that extent? Is head coach Ime Udoka…

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