The Knicks have added Donovan Mitchell’s mentor Johnnie Bryant to their coaching staff.
New York Knicks president Leon Rose continues to bolster the organization’s player development apparatus with the hiring of Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant. While the news is not yet official, Donovan Mitchell wasted no time in posting a response on his Instagram page on Tuesday.
"“What’s understood doesn’t need to be explained,” Mitchell wrote on Instagram after news broke about Bryant. “Love always! Now before you go we got some sh*t to handle first!”"
Bryant is credited for having an impactful role in Mitchell’s development into an NBA All-Star. The Athletic wrote a piece in February (subscription required) detailing the three weeks the two spent together last summer in helping Mitchell take the next step in becoming an elite player.
Those watching the NBA’s return in Orlando have seen the results on the court. Mitchell had an historic performance in Game 1 of Utah’s playoff series against Denver. Despite losing the game, he became the youngest player to score more than 50 points in a playoff game since Michael Jordan dropped 63 on the Celtics in 1986. Mitchell finished with 57 points on 19-33 shooting.
Johnnie Bryant brings an impressive resume to New York
Bryant’s official title will be “associate head coach” to Tom Thibodeau, which qualifies as a promotion instead of a lateral move from his current role with the Jazz. He is expected to finish the job coaching during Utah’s playoff run before transitioning to New York.
The Knicks also hired scouting guru Walt Perrin away from Utah earlier in the summer. Both Perrin and Bryant took an active role in convincing Jazz leadership to select Mitchell in the 2017 NBA Draft.
For those dreaming about the Knicks stealing Mitchell from Utah, he is set to become a restricted free agent following the 2020-21 season. However, the Jazz can offer him the designated rookie extension which would make it financially prudent for him to re-sign out west.
Utah also needs to sign big man Rudy Gobert, whose relationship with Mitchell was strained due to his initial response to the coronavirus. The two have reportedly settled their differences.
Bryant joins Kenny Payne as the second significant player development hire by the Knicks in beefing up Thibodeau’s coaching staff. Both coaches have strong ties to star players throughout the league.