Report: Lakers expected to be ‘front of the line’ to acquire Donovan Mitchell this summer

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Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

If the Cleveland Cavaliers do indeed have to find a way to part with Donovan Mitchell this coming offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly will be at the “front of the line” of interested teams.

“If Mitchell doesn’t sign an extension with Cleveland this summer, the Cavs will have to explore trade options — and one of the teams standing at the front of the line will be the Lakers,” wrote Jason Lloyd. “It’s possible, given Mitchell’s current condition with his calf, that he has already played his final game in a Cavs jersey.”

Mitchell’s long-term future in Cleveland has been a hot topic essentially since the moment he arrived in a trade with the Utah Jazz prior to the 2022-23 NBA season. Though the 27-year-old is under contract for next season, he holds a player option for the 2025-26 campaign.

Despite being under contract with the Cavs for at least one more season — and with this one not even over yet — speculation remains that the All-Star guard might be looking to leave much sooner. Many in NBA circles believe Mitchell will try to force his way out of Cleveland if the Cavs fail to win the 2024 NBA Finals.

That accomplishment now seems extremely unlikely with the Cavaliers on the brink of elimination in their second-round series against the top-seeded Boston Celtics. Cleveland’s season could end as soon as Wednesday with a Game 5 loss at TD Garden.

The Cavs were pushed into that win-or-go-home scenario with a 109-102 home loss to the Celtics in Game 4 on Monday. Mitchell was unable to play in that game because of an injured calf, and if he can’t take the court for Game 5, it is possible that he has already played his last game in a Cavaliers uniform.

That would be a devastating circumstance for a Cleveland franchise that seems to have real potential to win a championship in the near future. NBA insider Brian Windhorst said if Evan Mobley can keep up the level of play he showed against the Celtics in Game 2, the Cavs are capable of winning a title in the next three years.

Combined with Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Max Strus — all of whom are under contract for multiple future seasons — the Cavs have a nucleus that could keep them in contention. But if they are forced to trade Mitchell without garnering an enormous return, it is unlikely that they will satisfy their goal of a championship.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.