The Pelicans are targeting Cavaliers’ Jarrett Allen, could Donovan Mitchell be next?

New reports are linking the New Orleans Pelicans to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Jarrett Allen. With mounting injuries, the Cavaliers could look to move Donovan Mitchell before the trade deadline too.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Philadelphia 76ers
Cleveland Cavaliers v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had the roughest 15-12 start in recent memory. According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, with Darius Garland and Evan Mobley out for at least the next six weeks with injuries, Jarrett Allen has drawn interest from playoff contenders such as the New Orleans Pelicans. 

NBA rumors: Pelicans are after Jarrett Allen

Allen, an All-Star center in 2021-22, has two years left on his deal after this season at $20 million a season and offers playoff hopefuls the chance to add an in their prime, cost-controlled player for three potential playoff runs. With the salary cap expected to rise above $140 million next season, Allen’s contract should be viewed as an asset, especially with a more stringent Collective Bargaining Agreement taking effect. 

The Pelicans are an interesting trade partner for the Cavaliers. They currently have Jonas Valancunas entrenched at center and a bevy of future draft picks. Valancunas and Allen are very different players who occupy the same areas, and it’d be difficult for them to share the court, especially with Zion Williamson. If the Pelicans do make a move for Allen, Valancunas would likely be headed back to Cleveland as his $15.4 million expiring salary covers most of Allen’s $20 million salary. 

The Cavaliers are unlikely to entertain a massive teardown due to many of their draft picks being sent to the Utah Jazz when they acquire Donovan Mitchell. Valancunas would be a solid stop-gap solution at center. He’s not nearly as mobile or as good a defender as Allen, but he’s an elite rebounder and can be counted on to score in the post. 

Draft pick compensation will likely be the sticking point in any trade for Allen. He’s a former All-Star who has yet to turn 26 and is on a team-friendly contract. However, rim-running centers are not valued highly in trades, with many teams believing they can get 80 percent of the production for 20 percent of the cost. 

While teams around the league are probing the Cavaliers to break up their core four of Garland, Mobley, Allen, and potentially Donovan Mitchell, the Cavaliers haven’t indicated they’re interested in waving the white flag. Allen and Mobley have been one of the league’s best defensive pairings, and there is no urgency to move him as he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2026. 

Why Donovan Mitchell could get shopped this trade deadline

The more interesting and relevant decision for the Cavaliers is what they do with Mitchell. The Cavaliers gave up three first-round picks, two first-round pick swaps, Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, and Ochai Ogbaji to land Mitchell, who had three years left on his deal before an opt-out. The Cavaliers were excellent in his debut season, winning 51 games and owning the league’s second-best rating of plus-5.5, but have slumped to 15-12 this season and the 20th-best net rating at plus-0.1. 

Injuries have held the Cavaliers back, with their core four having only played 156 minutes together. However, even with all their stars on the court, they’ve disappointed, posting a plus-2.3 net rating and an anemic 111.5 offensive rating. If the Cavaliers don’t believe they’re contenders this season, then moving Mitchell as soon as possible has merit. 

The cost to acquire Mitchell hamstrung the Cavaliers' future flexibility, but they could likely recoup much of their lost draft capital by trading him. While that wouldn’t incentivize tanking, it would take pressure off of maximizing their performance for each of the next two seasons. With Garland, 24, and Mobley, 22, being so young, the Cavaliers have the benefit of being able to take the long view. 

Should the Cavaliers decide to move Allen, it likely means they’re open to moving Mitchell as well. With the likelihood that Mitchell will sign an extension dwindling, the Cavaliers have two sensible options: go all in, which likely means keeping Allen, or move Mitchell and build for tomorrow. 

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