While the Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz came into the season with completely different sets of expectations, they both ended up losing their respective first-round playoff series in six games. Donovan Mitchell and Fred VanVleet might see their teams make major changes in the offseason.
The Raptors put up a heck of an effort to push the 76ers to six games after what seemed like a clean sweep was well on its way. Apart from two disastrous games defensively, Toronto’s defense was key in their victories. The scoring, or lack thereof, is what ultimately sunk Toronto’s ship.
While the Raptors saw offensive improvement from many players this season, uneven postseason results from an injured VanVleet raised questions about Toronto’s go-to options late in close games. Mitchell, who could become available this offseason after yet another early exit for the Jazz, would rectify many of Toronto’s issues.
Rumors have been flying over the last year that hint 2021-22 could be Mitchell’s final season in Utah should the team fall short in the playoffs once again. Losing against a Dallas Mavericks team that was missing Luka Doncic for the first three games may just be the tipping point.
If Utah decides to trade either Mitchell or Rudy Gobert, Toronto should be all over them.
Donovan Mitchell could be the missing piece for the Toronto Raptors.
Mitchell is coming off yet another stellar season where he averaged 25.9 points and 5.3 assists per game while being selected to his third All-Star game. He’s a true three-level scorer who has improved as a facilitator throughout his career.
Standing at 6-1, Mitchell doesn’t necessarily fit the Raptors lineup that puts a heavy emphasis on versatile forwards. While he could be a good defender in theory due to his wingspan, he was getting torched in the postseason.
However, the Raptors’ previous success with a smaller backcourt consisting of VanVleet and Kyle Lowry shouldn’t deter them away from a possible Mitchell trade.
A trade for Mitchell certainly wouldn’t come cheap. There would certainly be a ton of suitors should he become available. The Raptors would have to part ways with multiple draft picks (and possibly one or two starters) just to match Mitchell’s $32 million salary this upcoming season.
It’s a hefty price, but it’s at least worth a call just to gauge the asking price, especially for someone like Masai Ujiri who has been aggressive in the past. Trading for Mitchell could turn the Raptors from playoff contenders to championship contenders in just one offseason.