Donovan Mitchell isn’t the only Cavs All-Star the Lakers can realistically target

The Los Angeles Lakers have been linked to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Donovan Mitchell trade rumors. Mitchell isn't the only Cavs star worth trading for.
Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Two
Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Two / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers have been seemingly joined at the hip over the past six seasons. That journey, of course, started when LeBron James made the jump from Ohio to California, shocking the NBA at its very core.

Six years later, the rumors of a link between the franchises persist as the Lakers are again tied to the Cavaliers' franchise player—only this time it's Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell, 27, will enter the final season of his current contract in 2024-25. The Cavaliers have moved mountains in their attempts to convince him to sign an extension, even going as far as to fire head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, whom Mitchell reportedly didn't see eye to eye with.

In the event that Mitchell doesn't re-sign with Cleveland, NBA insider Marc Stein reports that the Cavaliers, "Have zero intention of opening the 2024-25 season with Mitchell heading into his free agent year."

As a result of this development, one would be inclined to believe that the Lakers are as viable an option for Mitchell as before. In the event that he chooses to re-sign, however, Los Angeles will need to look at other options—and, quite frankly, it still should be before committing to any one direction this early in the process.

Thankfully, Mitchell isn't the only All-Star that the Lakers could come calling for on the Cavaliers' roster.

All-Star point guard Darius Garland could replace D'Angelo Russell

With D'Angelo Russell potentially entering free agency, the Lakers have a void to fill at the point guard position. One of the most intriguing options to address that issue just so happens to share a backcourt with Mitchell in Cleveland: Darius Garland.

According to Shams Charania, Joe Vardon, and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, that backcourt pairing could be split up via trade as soon as this summer if Mitchell signs an extension.

"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."

Hardly a consolation prize, Garland, 24, is a former All-Star who could fit remarkably well alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

Garland was selected at No. 5 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. After a challenging rookie season had some questioning his viability as a starting-caliber player, he immediately rewrote the narrative with a sophomore campaign that saw him finish in the top 10 in Most Improved Player award voting.

A season later, 2021-22, Garland officially broke out with averages of 21.7 points, 8.6 assists, and 2.6 three-point field goals made, leading Cleveland to 44 wins and its first season above .500 in four years.

Garland and Mitchell have been a somewhat odd fit since Cleveland acquired him in the summer of 2022, but his quality of play remains star-caliber. He continues to be one of the best facilitators in the NBA, as well as a dynamic shot-maker whose three-point range should appeal to the Lakers.

Through five NBA seasons, Garland is shooting 38.4 percent from beyond the arc and has made at least 1.8 three-point field goals per game in each of those campaigns.

For a Lakers team that ranked 24th in three-point field goals made, and may need to replace Russell's 3.0 conversions per game, Garland would be a great addition. With averages of 20.6 points, 7.7 assists, and 2.4 three-point field goals made on .457/.390/.863 shooting over the past three seasons, Garland may even be an all-around upgrade.

Still just 24 years of age, Garland has untapped potential and a floor of All-Star play on a postseason team.

All-Star center Jarrett Allen could be available this summer

If the acquisition of a point guard whose specialty is on the offensive end of the floor isn't the ideal outcome, then perhaps adding one of the best centers in the NBA could be. While not necessarily a part of trade rumors, Jarrett Allen has been at the heart of endless speculation nearing the offseason.

An All-Star in his own right, Allen is a 26-year-old interior menace whose 7'6" wingspan and two-way value would fit perfectly alongside Davis in an almost 2020 manner.

Chris Herring of ESPN is one of the many who has suggested that Cleveland should pursue an Allen trade this offseason. This comes on the heels of an anonymous Cavaliers player questioning why Allen didn't play through his injury this postseason.

In the event that there's smoke where there's fire, the Lakers shouldn't hesitate to pursue one of the best centers in the Association.

Allen has twice finished in the top 10 in voting for Defensive Player of the Year. He was also an All-Star in 2021-22, his first full season with the Cavaliers, and has continuously improved during his time with the franchise.

That includes the fact that Allen has increased his free throw percentage in every season since he shot 63.3 percent in 2019-20, ultimately hitting 74.2 percent of his attempts in 2023-24.

This past season, Allen averaged 16.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.2 offensive rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 blocks, and 0.7 steals while shooting 63.4 percent from the field. After a brutal showing in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, he bounced back in 2024 by averaging 17.0 points and 13.8 rebounds before the aforementioned rib injury ultimately sidelined him.

For a Lakers team that ranked 21st in points allowed in the paint, 27th in second chance points allowed, and dead last in second chance points scored, Allen epitomizes the term, "Dream fit."

What about the cost?

Any potential trade that the Lakers discuss would ultimately require a conversation about the cost. Right off the bat, Los Angeles would likely need to offer at least two of the available three first-round draft picks that it can trade this summer.

From there, it would be a matter of matching salaries—and that may be the most challenging aspect of any of these future discussions.

Allen is one of the best bargains in the NBA, having signed a five-year, $100 million contract in 2021. He has two seasons remaining on that deal, each at an even cost of $20 million, which helps in making him a feasible target.

Right off the bat, the Lakers could offer Rui Hachimura and the $17 million he's owed in 2024-25 and nearly be at the point of successfully matching salaries.

As for Garland, he's owed just over $36.7 million in 2024-25. That makes matters a bit more complicated, as Hachimura's contract wouldn't even get the Lakers halfway there. In turn, Austin Reaves' near $13 million deal may ultimately have to come into play—if the Lakers can't find a third team to help sweeten the pot.

There are other workarounds—both Gabe Vincent and Jarred Vanderbilt are owed roughly $11 million in 2024-25—but Cleveland may be unwilling to take on multiple seasons at those prices.

With this being established, the course of action for the Lakers is as simple as it is complex. Rob Pelinka must figure out which of the Cavaliers' three All-Stars make the most sense, and apply the appropriate logic as far as opportunity cost is concerned.

Regardless of which door the Lakers potentially opt to open, the fact remains that Cleveland has three different All-Stars for Los Angeles to potentailly add as soon as 2024-25.