The Cleveland Cavaliers were on borrowed time the moment Donovan Mitchell sustained a calf injury that forced him out of Game 4 of their second-round matchup against the Boston Celtics. Calf strains are tricky to deal with; thus, Mitchell missed Game 5 on Wednesday even with the Cavs’ season on the line as they entered the night down 3-2 in the series. Their season promptly met its end, as they suffered a 113-98 loss on the road to mark their second consecutive playoff exit with a whimper.

It’s unclear how the Cavs will be proceeding from here. The past two years have shown that the Cavs, despite having a talented roster, may not yet have enough to field a championship contender. As enticing as it is for them to run it back given the success they’ve had over the past two seasons, they will have to ponder difficult roster questions involving Mitchell, as he’ll be in the final year of his contract next season. (He has a player option for the 2025-26 season, but there’s no way he’ll be picking that up barring an unforeseen twist in the tale.)

To that end, the Cavs may have to entertain the idea of a Donovan Mitchell trade so they wouldn’t lose him for nothing given how loud the rumors are of Spida’s intention to sign elsewhere when his contract is up. One team that could potentially be in the mix are the Atlanta Hawks, per Brett Siegel of ClutchPoints.

“There have also been whispers about Mitchell and the Atlanta Hawks dating back before the 2023-24 season. Mitchell has a strong relationship with All-Star point guard Trae Young, and the Hawks want to position themselves to once again be at the top of the Eastern Conference standings rather quickly,” Siegel wrote.

With one season left on Mitchell’s contract, it’ll be interesting to see how much it would take to pry him away from the Cavs in a trade. Cleveland still has hopes of signing him to an extension anyway, so nothing is given quite yet. But the Hawks are certainly an interesting trade partner due to the assets they have, which would allow Cleveland to recoup a good percentage of the assets they gave up to the Utah Jazz back in 2022.

Will the Cavs benefit from the Hawks’ lottery luck?

At this point, the Hawks can go in plenty of directions as far as roster-building goes. Atlanta got lucky in the 2024 NBA Draft Lottery, as they won the first overall pick despite having just three percent odds to do so. A play-in team despite all the injuries that plagued them this past season, they can now add a blue-chip prospect to their ranks as they look to recapture the magic they had during the 2021 postseason.

However, some believe that the Hawks can also blow it up completely, with Trae Young potentially being on the trade market as well. They could also package the first overall selection with a few players to add a player who boosts their playoff odds immensely. Do they look at Donovan Mitchell as someone who not only would elevate the team, but also sign with the franchise for the long haul, thus encouraging them to swing a deal with the Cavs?

Trading for Mitchell means that the Hawks will be trading away one of Young or Dejounte Murray, as it’s simply not possible in 2024 to field three guards in the starting lineup, all of whom need the ball in their hands to thrive. But is that the best use of assets for the Hawks? Their backcourt isn’t exactly the part of the roster that needs improving. And if the Hawks want to partner Young with Mitchell, that may not be too sustainable of a partnership given that it’s undersized and lacking in perimeter defense.

But as far as trade partners go, it may be difficult for the Cavs to find a trade partner that both has the assets and the willingness to swing a deal for Mitchell. It’s hard to start any prospective Mitchell deal any better than with the number one overall selection of the 2024 NBA Draft, after all.

The Hawks can also dangle Murray, Clint Capela, De’Andre Hunter, and AJ Griffin, as Siegel pointed out, and they could “get creative in terms of offering a massive package” for the Cavs star.

The Cavs have a foundation for sustainable success moving forward, as they’ll still have Darius Garland and Evan Mobley around as the franchise’s cornerstones. Jarrett Allen is also still around, and perhaps he could also make way with Mobley moving to the five full-time. Whatever the case ends up being, the 2024 offseason is shaping up to be a crucial one for the Cavaliers.