The Toronto Raptors have been linked to Kevin Durant heavily in recent weeks, but a more realistic (albeit slightly) trade possibility could be Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. While the rival Knicks are the frontrunners, Toronto is keeping their name firmly mixed in the race.
Shams Charania reported that the Raptors are one of a handful of teams that are keeping their tendrils extended and trying to convince Danny Ainge to part with his prized guard. After moving away from Rudy Gobert, Utah is starting to move towards a huge rebuild.
The Raptors have assets like OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. to offer the Jazz, but they won’t be the only team that tries to put their fingers in the Mitchell pie. This includes teams with an immediate path to contention or a desire to escape the play-in tournament.
The Raptors are better positioned to land Mitchell than any one of these three teams. This could help them beat out some of their non-New York competition if they are serious about giving the backcourt a severe shot in the arm when the season comes around.
3 teams the Toronto Raptors could beat out for Donovan Mitchell.
3. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets went from an intriguing play-in team to an even more chaotic mess overnight. Between hiring retread Steve Clifford after the Kenny Atkinson debacle and Miles Bridges potentially in line for a long prison stint if convicted of some disgusting crimes, this offseason has been a mess.
While the Hornets were named in the Mitchell rumors, a team with Mitchell and LaMelo Ball in the backcourt would be one step above playing 5-on-4 on the defensive end. For a defensive-minded coach in Clifford, gutting the team for Mitchell could be a significant negative on his scheme.
Donovan Mitchell helps the Toronto Raptors more than the Hornets.
The assets Charlotte has to offer won’t exactly blow the doors off Ainge. With Bridges in legal limbo, the best players the Hornets could flip include Kelly Oubre Jr. and Terry Rozier. Not ideal. Adding Mark Williams could be redundant due to Utah picking up Walker Kessler in the Gobert move.
The Hornets need more defensive standouts and a low-post scorer that can replace Bridges. Going all-in on Mitchell and playing ABA-style breakneck basketball is not going to be a viable strategy in an Eastern Conference getting stronger by the year.