It is no secret that Russell Westbrook has been on the trading block for the Los Angeles Lakers, which has caused the New York Knicks to pop up in discussions.
The former MVP had a very disappointing first year with the Lakers, ultimately leading to LA missing the playoffs. That did not help Westbrook’s trade value, besides the fact that he is on an expiring contract at $47.1 million.
The Lakers have had a hard time finding a deal to get rid of Westbrook while loading up their roster for another championship run with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
On the other hand, the Knicks have been in negotiations with Danny Ainge for ages and it doesn’t seem like he is willing to part with his star guard for cheap.
Here’s how the Knicks could land Donovan Mitchell and help the Lakers get rid of Russell Westbrook
Here’s a potential deal that the Knicks could leverage involving Westbrook in order to bring Donovan Mitchell to New York.
Why would the Knicks do this?
Leon Rose would finally get the duo that he has had his eyes on for months since the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz met in the playoffs. With Mitchell, the Knicks would finally get their star next to the developing RJ Barrett and the newly signed Jalen Brunson.
The Knicks would also replace most of Julius Randle’s offensive production with Bogdan Bogdanovic (and they’d have better spacing). It also helps that the end of Bogdanovic’s contract coincides with Barrett’s extension. With Mitchell and Brunson on the team making over $25 million a year, the money would have to come from somewhere.
With Talen Horton-Tucker coming in, there would be a logjam of guards on the roster. Could Thibodeau find time for Evan Fournier, Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, and Miles McBride on a roster with two starting guards? Even if some of them play the three, that position will be mainly occupied by Barrett.
New York may need to part with some of these guards to add some more depth in the frontcourt. Utilizing Fournier’s contract size and the talent of these players, it should muster enough value to potentially bring on a defense-focused forward to the roster.
In terms of picks, the Knicks would be able to give the extra fifth pick to the Jazz because they’d receive one from the Lakers. Also, the 2027 first-rounder from LA could be valuable since LeBron would most likely be retired and AD would be heading into his mid-30s with a history of injuries. The five first-round picks should be a variation of protected and unprotected picks, but this detail is too out there to speculate on.
While losing Derrick Rose would hurt, he will be 34 at the start of the season and he will probably want one last opportunity at a championship. New York already replaced his penetration in the paint with Brunson (and even Donovan Mitchell).
Everyone is aware of Randle’s character issues on the court last season. While some may say the relationship may be salvageable, Leon Rose may not want that sort of liability on the roster. Randle had a down year, but he’s still on a great contract for his talent. While it would hurt the team to lose Randle, it would be difficult to play both Mitchell and Randle together. They both like to have the ball in their hands and I hardly doubt Randle would like to play as a spot-up shooter.
The Knicks would lose a lot of assets in this trade, but it would leave New York in a much better place. What is the point of collecting assets if they don’t spend them on players like Donovan Mitchell?