The Donovan Mitchell rumors surrounding the Knicks pick up steam.
One day after Donovan Mitchell had one of the best playoff performances by a young player since Michael Jordan, and hours after news broke that Mitchell’s player development coach and mentor Johnnie Bryant will be joining Tom Thibodeau’s staff, a new rumor emerged connecting the New York Knicks to the rising superstar.
A source with knowledge of the Knicks thinking tells Adam Zagoria that New York wants Mitchell “badly” but there is an internal debate over whether he can play next to RJ Barrett.
Of course, it’s not entirely up to the Knicks on whether they can acquire the 2017 NBA Draft pick who was selected five picks after Frank Ntilikina.
Mitchell is set to become a restricted free agent after the 2020-21 season. However, the Jazz are expected to offer him a max contract over five years that would make him only available to other teams in trade.
Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the season in March, a rift formed between Mitchell and Jazz big man Rudy Gobert, who became patient zero in the NBA after demonstrating a dismissive attitude toward the virus. While the two sides are reportedly on better terms, it’s unclear if there are lingering issues.
The Knicks have a cupboard full of assets to offer in a trade for a disgruntled star. Besides their own draft picks, they also have two future first round picks coming from Dallas, as well as an extra first round selection in this year’s draft from the Marcus Morris trade.
If there are questions on whether Mitchell and Barrett can play together, nobody will be able to provide better insight into that debate than the Knicks most recent hires of Walt Perrin and Johnnie Bryant. The two are largely responsible for Utah drafting Mitchell, and have been influential in his development into an NBA star.
If we allow for speculation of what it would take to acquire Mitchell, it would be reasonable to assume that either Mitchell Robinson or RJ Barrett would need to be included in the package. Perhaps the debate about whether RJ and Donovan can play together, if true, is an indication of which prospect the team would be willing to deal.
As of now, recent conflict with Gobert aside, Mitchell appears happy in his current situation as he tries to lead the Jazz over the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the Western Conference playoff series.
But you better believe people will be watching for any sign of trouble as the Knicks hang in the balance with the resources and relationships to make the case for acquiring the young star.