The Cavaliers welcome Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland today for his introductory press conference, but there was no way to escape questions about the Knickswrites Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
The Cavs’ trade for Mitchell was a surprise development that came after weeks of negotiations between New York and the Jazz. The teams seemed like natural trading partners, with Utah seeking draft picks and the Knicks having an abundance to offer. Mitchell, a native of the New York City area, expected to return home and admitted that’s where he was hoping to go.
“Who doesn’t want to be home, next to their mom,” Mitchell told reporters. “I haven’t lived at home since I was in the eighth grade and I went to boarding school, so it would have been nice.”
That doesn’t mean Mitchell has any regrets about the way things turned out. He confirmed a rumor that he was “running around crazy” on a Miami Beach golf course when he learned that the Cavs were able to acquire him without giving up core players. Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and Caris LeVert. Mitchell said he’s thrilled to be with such a talented team, which he believes can eventually become among the best in the Eastern Conference.
“Once I found out I got traded and what we were going into, that trumped everything for me,” he said. “I am truly excited to be here, to be a part of this group, to be a part of this city.”
Mitchell was a franchise cornerstone for five years with the Jazz after being selected with the 13th pick in the 2017 draft. He has been an All-Star the past three seasons and was a leader on one of the top teams in the West, but Utah’s lack of playoff success led to major changes this summer. Mitchell said he had a strong feeling that he was going to be traded after the deal was sent Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves was announced.
Mitchell also talked about having a Cavaliers jersey when he was younger and said he became a fan of the team later LeBron James returned in 2014. He may be the franchise’s most important acquisition since James left for LA, and he’ll play an important role as Cleveland tries to reach the playoffs for the first time since making four straight trips to the NBA Finals.
“On paper, we look scary, but at the end of the day we have to go out and do the work,” Mitchell said. “I can’t sit here and tell you like, yeah, this is a championship team. We’ve got to go out and prove it every night.”