The Detroit Pistons should not target Donovan Mitchell

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) dribbles defended by Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) dribbles defended by Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons are nearing the end of a seemingly eternal rebuild, and with Duren, Bey, Ivey, and Cade Cunningham, the light at the end of the tunnel grows near. At this point, all the Pistons have to do is stay healthy, develop the endless young talent they have, and add only instant impact pieces.

The NBA trade market has been insane this offseason, with Kevin Durant requesting a trade, the Lakers trying to move Russell Westbrook, the Spurs shipping Dejounte Murray to Atlanta, and the Utah Jazz sending defensive anchor Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves for a whopping five first-round draft picks.

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It’s the last move that drew my attention as a Detroiter. First of all, the price for Gobert was that steep? Or did the Timberwolves just not negotiate enough, so the price stayed artificially high? Either way, that trade has ruined the market this summer, as teams now think their good players are worth getting rid of an entire decade of picks.

Secondly, does this mean the Utah Jazz are blowing it up? They’ve been a playoff team for the better part of a decade with the duo of Donovan Mitchell and Gobert, but the two had some differences and they haven’t been able to make any real noise in the postseason. Mitchell is owed at least $30 million per year over the next four years, but the Detroit Pistons could make that work.

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After seeing the Gobert trade go down and looking at the asking price for Durant, it seems unlikely that any team will be open to shelling out the six picks Danny Ainge wants for Mitchell. That number will probably come down, but despite the absurdity of it all, the odds are starting to suggest that Mitchell will no longer call Salt Lake City home. The Pistons could create the cap space to bring Mitchell to Detroit, and since he is a top-20 player in only his fifth year, it seems like he could be a decent fit on the roster. After all, he’s one of the best volume scorers in the league.

Despite all that, the Pistons shouldn’t even consider making a move for Mitchell. For starters, the trade would look something like this.

The Jazz do not have a starting center, so adding Olynyk would work out quite well for them. They also need some young talent, again down low, so Beef Stew would be a hot commodity. Younger players like Killian Hayes and Hamidou Diallo round out the fact that Detroit does not have the draft capital to give away, so perhaps rookie head coach Will Hardy can get more out of these young guards than Dwane Casey was able to. The picks are a necessity to get a player of this talent, so that’s just collateral damage.

Even though this trade package is fairly small compared to what the Jazz are looking for, I think they’d be interested in taking it. The 2028 pick is so far out, and unprotected, that Utah could hold out hope that the Pistons would implode and those picks would fall to the lottery. They would also have three real centers. Walker Kessler is an unproven rookie but I suspect he’ll play a similar game to Gobert, so Olynyk and Beef Stew provide some shooting, floor spacing, and small-ball options.

Even still, the Pistons should not consider this deal. Donovan Mitchell is a ball-dominant scorer, and if all goes well Cade Cunningham will simply be better. For starters, Cunningham should become a better shooter soon. Mitchell is not that efficient.

Cunningham is well above the average NBA defender, and Mitchell is the tenth worst defender in the entire league, according to FiveThirtyEight. Jaden Ivey will hopefully be a solid point guard, if not elite, and will allow Cunningham to get open for easy buckets. With that combination, there’s really no need for Mitchell.

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It’s odd to suggest that the Pistons would not benefit from adding a top player in the league, but he would simply step on the toes of others and the investment in Mitchell would come at the disadvantage of more promising players. Mitchell is great, sure, but what are the odds either Ivey or Cunningham fall flat? I’d say low, and the Detroit Pistons should keep to the course.