The 3 major factors in Heat's potential pursuit of Donovan Mitchell

The Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are monitoring the Donovan Mitchell situation in Cleveland.
May 9, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J. B. Bickerstaff talks with
May 9, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J. B. Bickerstaff talks with / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Donovan Mitchell, sidelined by a calf strain, did not play in the final two games of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ second-round loss to the Boston Celtics. Now eliminated, an offseason filled with questions about Mitchell begins.

Mitchell, 27, is eligible for a four-year, $208.5 million contract extension this summer. If he doesn’t accept an extension, he can become a free agent in 2025. Few around the league expect Mitchell to commit to Cleveland beyond the next season, which could force the Cavs to consider trading him this summer or risk losing him for nothing in a year.

Three major factors are at play in the Miami Heat's potential pursuit of Donovan Mitchell: Will the Cavs explore trading him? Can Miami beat rival teams' best offers? Would Mitchell commit long-term?

But according to the Athletic’s latest reporting, the Cavaliers have not given up hope that they may persuade Mitchell to sign an extension.

"“The Mitchell situation will be resolved this summer, and there is a growing sentiment around the league that the Cavaliers will be able to position themselves to receive his commitment for a lucrative contract extension that would keep him in Cleveland past his 30th birthday.”"

To make Mitchell comfortable with the franchise's long-term direction, the Cavaliers could decide to move on from head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and trade point guard Darius Garland, whose fit next to Mitchell in Cleveland’s backcourt hasn’t been optimal.

"“Rival executives believe the Cavs will have to seriously evaluate the fit of Mitchell and Garland and ultimately may have to choose one or the other. Should Mitchell decide to stay long term, sources briefed on the matter say Garland’s representation, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, would have a conversation with Cavs officials on potentially finding a new home for the one-time All-Star.”"

It makes sense that the Cavs would exhaust all other options before exploring a trade for Mitchell. He is coming off a fifth straight All-Star season and had his two best statistical seasons in Cleveland. He is the team’s best player and fueled a stretch in which the Cavs won an NBA-best 22 games between December and February. This season, the Cavs won their first playoff series since LeBron James left in 2018.

But firing Bickerstaff and trading Garland won’t guarantee he stays and rival teams are reportedly preparing to make an offer should the Cavs open up the bidding.

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have prepared their offers for Mitchell. He also said, “[The Heat] are always star hunting. They have some players on their roster that would potentially be interesting to Cleveland, not as deep in draft picks as [Nets, Lakers].”

The Nets have six first-round picks they can include in a deal. The Lakers can trade two first-round picks and five second-round picks available to trade. The Heat can trade two future first-round picks and three second-round picks. The Heat are also allowed to trade their own 2024 first on the night of the draft.

Where does Miami’s best offer stack up against the Lakers and Nets? 

The Lakers can also include useful starters or role players like Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, Gabe Vincent and Jarred Vanderbilt.

Beyond Mikal Bridges, the Nets could include Ben Simmons’ $40 million expiring contract, Cam Johnson and Cam Thomas.

As for the Heat, would they be willing to trade Nikola Jovic and/or Jaime Jaquez Jr., along with Tyler Herro, in a package to land Mitchell but depletes their depth? 

Mitchell will have some say in where he goes. Whatever team trades for him would want back-channel assurances that Mitchell would sign an extension. Mitchell could let teams know where he’d be willing to commit long-term. Although he’s never come out and said he wants to play in a big market, many believe that Mitchell wants to play in his home state of New York, in Miami where he spends his summers or in Los Angeles.

But, according to the Athletic, Mitchell’s top priority is winning.

“Donovan is playing for his legacy as a winner; that’s all he wants to do,” one of Mitchell’s teammates told The Athletic.

That makes the Nets, who finished 18 games under .500, a less compelling landing spot. However, Mitchell could be the piece that puts the Lakers or Heat over the top.

The Cavs were just eliminated from the playoffs and have plenty of decisions to make and conversations to have with Mitchell and his representation before making any moves. But it seems that everyone from Cleveland, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Miami will have their eyes on the situation.