NBA Insider says Heat's position to land Donovan Mitchell just got 'a little more interesting'

The Knicks may have helped the Heat's chances to land Donovan Mitchell.
Cleveland Cavaliers v Miami Heat
Cleveland Cavaliers v Miami Heat / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Could the New York Knicks’ decision to trade for OG Anunoby end up helping the Miami Heat in any potential pursuit for Donovan Mitchell? That could be the case, according to one prominent NBA insider.

On a recent episode of the “Locked On Heat” podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst outlined a scenario in which the Heat’s position to land Mitchell should the Cleveland Cavaliers decide to trade him becomes, “a little bit more interesting.”

The Heat's chances of trading for Donovan Mitchell may have gotten a boost after the Knicks traded for OG Anunoby.

Many teams are monitoring Mitchell’s situation in Cleveland. The four-time All-Star is up for an extension next offseason and most insiders don’t expect him to sign another contract with the Cavaliers, who have sunk to seventh place in the East and haven’t taken the step they had hoped this season. Mitchell, 27, is under contract for one more season before he can enter free agency in 2025.

“Will Donovan extend under these circumstances? Not everybody thinks so,” Windhorst said on the podcast. “You can’t really let him go into the last year of his contract.”

Whether the Cavaliers decide to trade Mitchell remains to be seen. They are 19-14, still a playoff team, and players like Jarrett Allen have surged as of late. There’s an argument they should finish the season and reevaluate the team over the summer, but others argue they could get the most value by trading him before the deadline to a team desperate to make a move – like when the Suns traded for Kevin Durant last February.

“I think it’s gonna be hard for the Cavs to come to that conclusion or decision either way to keep him or not by February because I think they’d like to see this team out,” Windhorst said. “I’ve had a lot of conversations about would it be smart for the Cavs to trade a player in February or wait till the summer, and smart people disagree on that. So it’s a really big decision [whether to trade him or not]. I don’t know if they’re going to get there.”

One thing the Cavaliers would not be interested in is a full rebuild. Were they to trade Mitchell, they’d likely aim to retool around Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. As Windhorst pointed out, tanking is not an option because the Cavs don’t control their first-round picks over the next five years after trading them to the Utah Jazz for Mitchell in 2022. 

“The concept of them slipping backwards is not appealing because they don’t control their draft,” Windhorst said. “So probably on the other side of any big trade, whether it’s for Donovan or any of their other players, they probably need to have guys who can retrofit their team now.”

Enter the Knicks, who had been a rumored destination for Mitchell dating back to 2022 before the Cavaliers surprisingly swooped in. The Knicks might still be considered the favorites to land Mitchell should he become available, but their recent trade for OG Anunoby sent two of their most appealing assets to the Toronto Raptors.

“Two players I thought would fit that bill would be [R.J.] Barrett and [Immanuel] Quickley. Certainly in any kind of Mitchell trade you would have wanted draft picks as well. But those are the two players I thought would fit the Cavs,” Windhorst said.

“The Knicks have now made that move," he continued. "It doesn’t mean they can’t find another way, but I would think the Knicks’ chances for trading for Donovan were he to become available may have dimmed mildly, which would mean the Heat’s position – if they want Donovan, I don’t even know if they do – would become a little bit more interesting.”

Then there’s the question of what the Heat could trade for Mitchell. If a deal were to happen before the deadline, the Heat could offer Kyle Lowry’s expiring contract, instant-impact players Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin, and promising young prospects, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Nikola Jovic. Herro, Robinson, Jaquez and Jovic would also be available over the summer.

“I don’t know where the Cavs are on Jovic and Jaquez,” Windhorst said. “Those are the two names I’d be thinking about.”

Any decision to trade a star like Mitchell, especially after all they gave up for him, won’t come lightly. At the same time, as Windhorst pointed out, part of that decision might be out of Cleveland's control if Mitchell makes it clear he doesn’t intend to re-sign.

“I think the Cavs have a lot of hard decisions to make,” Windhorst said,” and I don’t know that they’ll get to any firm decisions by early February.”