Sunday, October 30th is a day many Knicks fans and players alike might have circled on their calendars. I imagine those people to be Donovan Mitchell, Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, Leon Rose, Danny Ainge, and some of the other young Knickerbockers.
Mitchell was all but sure he was going to be a Knick and it was a shock when he landed in Cleveland. Let’s just say he’ll make the Knicks’ front office regret not doing the deal. Jalen Brunson will be looking to make a statement to both Mitchell and the Knicks front office, proving that he’s all they need, while RJ Barrett will look to prove two things. One, that he is the best running mate for Brunson, and two, that it was better for the front office to give him an extension rather than sign Mitchell.
Leon Rose will be praying that the Knicks get the win while Danny Ainge will be smiling in Utah knowing New York should’ve given up those draft picks. The young nucleus in New York might want to make a statement that night as well. Guys like Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, and Jericho Sims were brought up in trade rumors all summer for Mitchell.
They’ll be looking to assure the front office made the right decision. It should be an interesting night in Cleveland with a lot on the line this early in the season. But we always wonder what if, right? What if the deal did go down? How would the Knicks look today?
The New York Knicks with Donovan Mitchell on the roster
In July, the Knicks and the Utah Jazz discussed a deal that included Donovan Mitchell for RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Mitchell Robinson, and three first-round draft picks. Ultimately, the Jazz turned that down. The Knicks tried again and offered Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and two first-round draft picks. The Jazz countered and said they wanted another first-round draft pick, draft swaps, and another young player (such as Grimes or Toppin). The Knicks did not accept, and Danny Ainge went to Cleveland.
If the deal did go down, I believe the starting five would be Jalen Brunson, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Fournier, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson. That is a strong starting five, but what about the bench? With Mitchell in New York, Barrett, Toppin, Quickley, Grimes, and possibly Jericho Sims would all be in Jazz jerseys.
That only leaves Cam Reddish and Isaiah Hartenstein as the go-to guys for the second unit. Trevor Keels is a rookie who hasn’t seen much NBA action and will have to prove himself to Coach Thibodeau to crack the lineup. Miles McBride, Feron Hunt, and Ryan Arcidiacono will most likely go back and forth between the G League. And Derrick Rose, at age 34, can still produce but isn’t getting any younger.
If Mitchell came to New York, Thibs would potentially only go with a seven-to-eight-man rotation. Having limited options is not good in this league. This season, the second unit for the Knicks has been the reason they are above .500. With Mitchell, there won’t really be a bench left.
I’d imagine that the Knicks front office would fight with Danny Ainge for one of their young players along with Mitchell like Udoka Azibuke or Eric Paschall. This is probably one of the main reasons the Knicks didn’t do the deal.
The New York Knicks have gotten off to a 3-1 start in the 2022-23 regular season, and a large part of the reason why is point guard Jalen Brunson.
The Knicks feel like they made the right decision as they are off to a great start while it seems like Donovan Mitchell is enjoying his time in Cleveland thus far. Sunday, we’ll see who got the better end of the deal that fell through.