Sports Illustrated writer seemingly sends message to Knicks from Danny Ainge

It looks like Danny Ainge is doing his best to coerce the New York Knicks into offering an extremely hefty package for three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell. Ainge is reportedly hoping to get seven or eight first-round picks in exchange for Mitchell, which has stalled trade talks.

New York has eight tradable first-round picks as well as several promising young players, but according to Marc Stein (subscription required), the front office is hoping to use either four or five of those picks for Mitchell.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported a little over two weeks ago that the Utah Jazz were finally willing to have trade discussions regarding Mitchell. The Knicks and Jazz talked about a potential deal, but since then, discussions have gone quiet. Ainge’s tactic consists of waiting patiently until he gets what he wants in return, but it’s hard to envision New York giving up either all of their tradable picks (or almost all of them).

And while talks have gone silent, Ainge appears to be using at least one writer in particular to speak for him. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix was on the Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday, where he talked about a possible Mitchell trade.

Danny Ainge tries to send a message to the Knicks about Donovan Mitchell trade

Mannix started by saying that it could be “even longer” than a couple of weeks until something happens on the Mitchell trade front. Okay, that makes sense. With trade talks being stalled right now, it likely will take more than a couple of weeks for a deal to get done.

However, here’s what Mannix had to say right after that: “I feel like some of these reports that are coming out there about Mitchell to the Knicks are almost wishful thinking.” He trailed off after saying that before plugging a piece that he recently wrote about that said “this is exactly the kind of situation that Danny Ainge wants to be in” since the Jazz aren’t contenders.

Mannix said that Ainge “smells desperation on teams really well.” That was the case for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who inflated the market after trading for Rudy Gobert. Mannix’s case is that until a team becomes desperate like the Timberwolves, Mitchell’s going to stay in Utah.

He closed with, “Danny Ainge is going to win this trade. He is. He’s just going to win this trade. He’s going to find somebody out there that is just crazy and wants to get Donovan Mitchell so bad that they’re willing to give the kind of package that would almost make a Durant deal look tame by comparison.”

Are you done laughing? When you are, let’s start by trying to give a little bit of credibility to Mannix, but after reading that you may feel the need to laugh again.

Yes, Ainge does sit back and wait until he gets the offer that he’s looking for, but the amount of picks that he’s looking for is far too many.

Based on Ainge’s thinking, KD should go for at least 15 first-round picks. That’s absurd. There’s no way that a Mitchell deal should be more than what Durant could go for.

Mitchell still has three guaranteed years left on his contract and should go for at least four first-round picks along with a few players. The Jazz are going to get a good amount in return regardless, but to set the bar that high for Mitchell is absolutely wild.

Sure, Ainge probably does like being in this situation, but there have been rumors about Mitchell wanting out of Utah for a while. And after yet another first-round exit in the playoffs this past season and the Jazz trading Gobert, Mitchell’s at risk of being the core of a rebuilding team.

I don’t want to speak for Mitchell, but why would he want that? He’s 25. If he’s traded to the Knicks, it won’t make them automatic favorites for a title, but New York’s going in the opposite direction of Utah.

Mannix put himself out there and defended Ainge, but the Knicks have what the Jazz are looking for. And hey, it also seems like the Knicks have what Mitchell’s looking for, too…