Top Lakers trade target officially off market after signing lucrative extension

The Los Angeles Lakers have seen another coveted target end up elsewhere. It's officially time for the Lakers to reboot and restrategize.
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers have spent the 2024 period of free agency watching their top targets opt to play elsewhere. It's been an unsettling experience, as Los Angeles is following a strong showing at the NBA Draft by effectively striking out in the second stage of the player acquisition phase.

Unfortunately, the old saying rings true: When it rains, it pours, and another coveted potential trade target ends up somewhere other than Los Angeles.

The Lakers have been rumored for months on end as a potential trade suitor for Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell. After the Cavaliers fired former head coach J.B. Bickerstaff in a commitment to Mitchell as the franchise centerpiece, however, the tone of those conversations changed.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, a potential trade is officially off the table after Mitchell signed a lucrative three-year contract extension with the Cavaliers.

The Lakers have been aware of the dwindling odds of acquiring Mitchell for quite some time, but it's still disheartening to see the chance to add an All-NBA player disappear.

Donovan Mitchell signs extension with Cavs, leaving Lakers in the dust

Mitchell, 27, is widely regarded as one of the best players in the NBA. A five-time All-Star and former All-NBA Second Team honoree, Mitchell has established himself as a premier scoring threat and capable facilitator between his tenures with the Cavaliers and the Utah Jazz.

This past season, he averaged 26.6 points, 6.1 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 3.3 three-point field goals made on .462/.368/.865 shooting.

What makes Mitchell so coveted is more than just his regular season success, however. He's the epitome of a player who elevates his game in the playoffs, boosting his career scoring average from 24.8 points in the regular season to 28.1 in the postseason.

Furthermore, only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain have more 50-point games in the playoffs than Mitchell, who most recently dropped 50 on May 3 against the Orlando Magic.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, the opportunity to pair Mitchell with Anthony Davis and LeBron James will have to wait. His current contract runs through the 2024-25 season, with the 2025-26 campaign voided in place of the extension.

He'll then make $150.3 million between 2025-26 and 2027-28, with the latter including a player option—meaning Los Angeles may not have another shot at him until four years from now.

That's been the steady theme this offseason, as Los Angeles has also missed out on priority targets such as James Harden, Chris Paul, Klay Thompson, and Jonas Valančiūnas. Free agency is far from over, but the start hasn't been quite as encouraging as some were hoping it would be.

The question moving forward is simple: How can the Lakers recover in time to give Davis and James a chance to win another championship in 2024-25?

Whatever the answer is, it will be without Mitchell.