CLEVELAND (ABC4 Sports) – When the Jazz dealt Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell figured he was next. But he really thought he was headed back home to the New York Knicks.
“Once Rudy got traded, I kind of saw the writing on the wall,” said Mitchell, who was dealt to Cleveland on September 1st for three players and three first round draft picks. “I think we all did. We understood we had a good run. I kind of felt I was going to get moved. I thought it was going to be New York, I’m not going to lie. Obviously, who doesn’t want to be at home next to their mom.”
But when he realized he’d be joining a solid young corps with the likes Darius Garland, Jarret Allen and Evan Mobley, Mitchell was thrilled.
“I found out where I was headed and who I was playing with, I couldn’t be happier,” said Mitchell, a three-time NBA All-Star, who had spent his entire 5-year career in Utah. “Those are phenomenal guys, and I’m glad add to it.”
Mitchell will also be reunited with former Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio in Cleveland. Mitchell played his first two seasons in the NBA alongside Rubio, advancing as far as the second round of the NBA playoffs.
“That’s my guy,” Mitchell said with smile. “I call him Jesus. He cut his hair now, but back when he was in Utah, he had the hair and the whole thing. But he’s a guy that really helped me as far as my work, as far as my craft. Just being able to watch him lead our team from the point guard position, which allowed me to take the reigns as a young guy.”
To go from one playoff team to another, Mitchell said he doesn’t mind still being in a small-market, cold-weather city.
“I love the cold, to be honest,” he said. “I think I dress better in the cold. Honestly, it’s not about market size for me. It’s about winning basketball.”
And Mitchell has loved the warm welcome he’s received from the city of Cleveland.
“It blew me away,” Mitchell said. “It’s still blowing me away. There’s a sea of people here. It makes you feel appreciated, and the biggest thing is you want to give your heart and soul for the people that show up for you.”
Mitchell will make his first trip to Utah with the Cavaliers on January 10th.