Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell again took accountability when the Cavs fell in a 106-95 loss to the New York Knicks in the NBA Playoffs on Wednesday.
“I didn’t do my job,” said Mitchell, via clevelanddotcom Cavs. “That’s where I’m hurting. I deserve the criticism that comes with that. Things that I’ve done well all year. I’ll look at that in a few weeks and be like ‘man, we did a lot of good things.’ But, right now, I didn’t do my job.
“That’s what I’m mad about. I wasn’t there for my guys. A lot of hardworking guys. A hardworking city. That’s what hurts.”
It didn’t take long for a hopeful season to swiftly end at the hands of the New York Knicks.
New York took Cleveland down in five games, using their prowess on the boards and guard Jalen Brunson’s scoring ability to seal their first playoff series win since the days of Carmelo Anthony in 2013. A promising win at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse could not give Cleveland the momentum it needed to take the series as three-straight losses pushed the Cavs further from a second-round spot against the Miami Heat.
As the Cavs’ front office looks to reshape its roster after a year of evaluation, who are the veterans that Cleveland can bring back as it continues its quest for success in the playoffs?
Scoring consistency will need to be a focus when Cleveland looks to improve a bench that averaged the 28th most points per game in the NBA last season.
LeVert, who the Indiana Pacers sent to Cleveland in 2022 for guard Ricky Rubio and an assortment of draft picks, ended the season with 12.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in 74 games and 30 starts. He took on starting roles in Games 3, 4 and 5, averaging 16 points, six rebounds and three assists per outing.
LeVert and the Cavs have expressed a mutual interest to return for another run, according to BasketballNews.com NBA Editor Spencer Davies.
“Absolutely,” LeVert said on Thursday, via Davies. “Definitely want to be a part of this culture and this team…The front office has expressed it as well.”
He added that he wanted to be a part of the team’s culture.
“I definitely want to be a part of this culture, be a part of this team,” LeVert said, via ESPN Cavs reporter Danny Cunningham. “This group is a super special group and I definitely want to be a part of that.
“But you all know it’s a business, so we’ll see what happens this summer.”
LeVert made just less than $18.8 million in the 2022-23 season in the final year of a 3-year, $52 million contract he signed with the Brooklyn Nets in 2019. If he can agree to a more team-friendly deal and continue to produce the results he has shown both as a starter and off the bench, Cleveland will have a solid option to rely on when it looks to run things back and take itself further in the NBA playoffs.
When the Cavs chose to stand pat at the trade deadline, it didn’t mean it didn’t still have a move up its sleeve.
Jackson Stone ·
“He’s a 3-time champion,” Mitchell said in a postgame press conference. “A guy I grew up watching. I remember watching him dancing on the bench with LeBron. I remember watching him against the Heat. Breaking Ray Allen’s 3-point (Finals) record. I hated him at the time.”
Mitchell’s ties to Green go far further than watching him play against Miami in the NBA Finals.
“I’ve known Danny and his family since I was probably 11, 12 years old,” Mitchell said. “We played against his brother (Devonte). I know his dad. It’s kind of crazy how life works. A lot of things come full circle.”
The experience the 3-time champion will bring will be invaluable for a young Cavs starting five and beyond. Green has been in playoff games stretching back to 2011, most recently playing in four of five postseason matchups for the Cavaliers, according to Basketball Reference.
Green’s proficiency from the 3-point arc will also be a welcomed part for a team that shot 36.7% from the perimeter in the regular season and 32.7% in the playoffs.