3 pros, 2 cons to Lakers trading for Donovan Mitchell

The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to pursue Donovan Mitchell this offseason. Is it worth the risk?
Los Angeles Lakers v Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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The Los Angeles Lakers are nearing the end of a window that has produced one championship and two Conference Finals appearances. For most, that would spell one of the most prosperous times in franchise history. For the Lakers, however, it means there’s a sense of desperation to try to win at least one more title with the current core.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Cleveland Cavaliers may have the perfect player to help the Lakers make the leap to championship contention.

Six years after LeBron James left Cleveland for Los Angeles, another Cavaliers star could potentially be on his way out of Ohio. In the aftermath of a disappointing end to an otherwise encouraging season, the Cavaliers are rumored to be in danger of losing one of their All-Star guards.

According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Lakers are one of several teams that will be making a run at trading for Donovan Mitchell if he proves to be the All-Star on their way out.

According to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, the Lakers are expected to be a leading candidate to attempt to acquire Mitchell this offseason.

“If Mitchell doesn’t sign an extension with Cleveland this summer, the Cavs will have to explore trade options — and one of the teams standing at the front of the line will be the Lakers. It’s possible, given Mitchell’s current condition with his calf, that he has already played his final game in a Cavs jersey.”

Limited assets make a trade for Mitchell difficult to piece together, but the Lakers have made a habit out of finding a way to trade for a superstar when the general public least expects it. That reality is made even more enticing when one considers that the front office is seemingly aware of the fact that the window is closing with a 39-year-old James and a 31-year-old Anthony Davis.

The question is: Should the Lakers actually go all-in on trading for Mitchell?

Pro: Donovan Mitchell creates for others

While it may not be his primarily skill, Mitchell is a willing passer coming off of the best facilitating season of his NBA career. His ability to get downhill and collapse a defense enables him to kick it out to open shooters, and he’s more willing than ever to make that happen.

For a Lakers team that ranked in the middle of the pack offensively, adding a playmaker to the roster should be a top priority this offseason—and few are better than Mitchell.

Despite his erratic performances in the postseason, replacing D’Angelo Russell with an all-around offensive threat will be no easy feat. Russell provided averages of 18.0 points, 6.3 assists, and 3.0 three-point field goals made per game in 2023-24, with his facilitating numbers ranking second on the team.

In the event that Russell enters free agency and Austin Reaves is a part of a potential trade for Mitchell, the Lakers would be losing a combined 33.9 points and 11.8 assists per contest—with the latter number being especially concerning.

Mitchell won’t be able to make all of that production up on his own, but his 2023-24 averages of 26.6 points and 6.1 assists would fill quite a bit of the void. Additionally, the statistics aren’t lying about how he fits the Lakers’ facilitating reliance in the sense that Los Angeles ranked sixth in assist ratio, while Cleveland ranked fourth.

It’s not his primary skill, but if the Lakers could lose both Reaves and Russell this offseason, Mitchell is one of the few players who could justify the losses.