On Tuesday, reports surfaced that the Jazz may be listening to offers on their star guard Donovan Mitchell. The New York Knicks are clear favorites to land him if a move is made, but other suitors like the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets will also make a push to acquire the 3x All-Star. With Donovan Mitchell dominating Knicks rumors, New York are reluctant to move RJ Barrett in a deal, but that shouldn’t halt negotiations for a couple of reasons.
The Knicks have more assets than any other team in the Donovan Mitchell sweepstakes, which has helped to fuel most Knicks rumors. They are able to offer up to eight first-round picks, far more than the Nets or Heat. They also have a group of young players who they could offer, including Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, Obi Toppin, Cam Reddish, Jericho Sims, and Miles McBridge.
While Utah might ask for RJ Barrett, the Knicks are reluctant to trade their budding star. The package would likely be centered around Quickley, but the Knicks have also expressed interest in keeping the third-year guard. Quickley has been vocal about trying to recruit his friend Mitchell to New York, but it’s not really up to Quickley, or Mitchell, whether he’s traded or not.
Different mock trades have been floated around, but most Knicks rumors believe that the offer will be built around Quickley or Grimes and a boatload of first-round picks. The biggest problem in negotiations might be matching the money. Julius Randle‘s four-year, $117M deal seems like the obvious trade chip, but the Jazz may not want to pay Randle for the next three years. One solution would be to include another team like the Charlotte Hornets, who could swap Gordon Hayward‘s deal for Julius Randle’s. Another would be to keep Randle and send out Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose, who will make a combined $32.5M in 2022-23.
Ideally for New York, they could give up as many picks and as few players as possible. The Rudy Gobert trade makes it evident that Utah is looking for a large package of draft picks in return. Recent reports have stated that the Jazz are currently focused on New York’s offer, which makes perfect sense. No other team in the Donovan Mitchell sweepstakes can offer as much as the Knicks. Leon Rose and the current Knicks brass have been stockpiling assets for a few years. While some fans have disregarded these moves as “kicking the can down the road,” they gave them the possibility to be in the running for any star player who becomes available.
The Knicks have more tradeable picks than any team other than Oklahoma City, and it seems like Utah is trying to build up their draft capital in a similar fashion to the Thunder. The Knicks being the only team aggressively pursuing Mitchell means the Jazz can’t drive up the price. The package will be big, but the Knicks should be able to avoid trading their top young players. A deal built around draft picks, veterans like Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose, and a combination of young guys like Grimes, Toppin, and Reddish should get the job done.
Donovan Mitchell’s Fit in New York
If the Knicks don’t trade for Mitchell, they’ll open next season with a starting lineup of Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and one of Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes. One potential problem with a starting backcourt of Evan Fournier and Jalen Brunson is the lack of size and defense; which would persist with Donovan Mitchell. The difference, however, is that Mitchell has a 6’10” wingspan and weighs 216 pounds. He’s just 6’1″ and is definitely an undersized shooting guard, but his size isn’t as much of a problem as some people suggest.
Offensively, Mitchell would be a seamless fit with the current Knicks roster which has helped to make him the focus of most Knicks rumors. Alongside Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, and potentially Julius Randle, it’s important to have a guy who can space the floor. Mitchell fits that bill perfectly. While he isn’t the same 3-and-D style player as Quentin Grimes or as great of a shooter as Evan Fournier, he brings a lot more to the table on the offensive end. He’s a high-volume three-point shooter who attempted 9.8 threes per game last season. He also excels with the ball in his hands. Mitchell put up 25.9 PPG and 5.3 APG while shooting 44.8% from the field and 35.5% from three with a 32.9% usage rate in 2021-22.
As a Knick, Mitchell likely wouldn’t see quite the same number of touches. The Jazz offense was built around Mitchell, while the Knicks offense features RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson who are also ball-dominant creators. Unlike the 2020-21 Knicks that made the playoffs as a fourth seed, these Knicks would have shooters at each of the guard and wing positions. Should they keep him, the extra spacing would do wonders for his inside game. The Knicks’ offense has been stagnant at times over the past couple of years, and adding a dynamic scorer like Mitchell would eliminate that issue.
The main concern about trading for Donovan Mitchell, that is never mentioned in Knicks rumors, would be that they are completely buying into a core of Barrett, Brunson, and Mitchell. Mitchell isn’t the type of player to build a championship team around, and this could take New York out of contention for one of those guys if they arise. Some fans are worried that this sets the ceiling as a consistent 1st or 2nd round exit for the foreseeable future. However, what some fail to realize is that this team isn’t going to be bad enough to draft a true superstar or good enough to attract one in free agency as they’re currently built. Trading for Mitchell would make the Knicks much better in the short term, which could help speed up their timeline.
The Knicks signed both Jalen Brunson and Mitchell Robinson to team-friendly, front-loaded deals that keep them in the running for top free agents the next couple of offseasons. Within the next year, however, they’ll have to commit a lot of money to RJ Barrett. Not only would trading for Mitchell make the Knicks better now, but it also wouldn’t stunt their long-term goals. In fact, it would be easier to attract a true superstar with him on the roster.
Trading for Donovan Mitchell isn’t just about the basketball. It’s also about making a statement and establishing a culture in New York. So much of Leon Rose’s focus since he became the President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks has been re-establishing the culture of the Knicks that has been lost since the early-2000s. Bringing Mitchell home to New York would do wonders for the perception of the Knicks organization around the league. He’s definitely worth the cost, and he fits the bill of the star guard that the Knicks have needed for decades.
With Donovan Mitchell dominating Knicks rumors, do you think New York will pull off the trade? Are there any other Knicks rumors you think are more likely to happen? Let us know in the comments below!
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