Like Rust Cohle smashing a can of Lone Star beer between his palms, offseason rumors are a flat circle for the New York Knicks. Donovan Mitchell trade rumors were flaring up again this offseason after a vague statement from Brian Windhorst made the rounds on Knicks Twitter Tuesday.
While the Mitchell connections are entirely due to speculation and conjecture, there is also a reason why these rumors continue to have life. The idea that Mitchell wants to play basketball in New York City is as subtle as a brick in the small of my back.
That particular emo reference is a poignant one here as well. Like Brand New and Taking Back Sunday shared lyrics, Mitchell has been flirting with both New York City teams. He has been seen publicly with people connected to the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks.
Donovan Mitchell trade rumors were ramping up again for second straight offseason
If Cleveland trading Mitchell after just one successful season feels far-fetched, you aren’t alone. I’m also unsure how we’ve returned to this same boat.
Windhorst has since come out and made clear that the Cavs are not trading Mitchell, but while we’re living in this world of pure imagination, let’s lean into it.
The naysayers are already screaming at their computer screens. Why would the Knicks trade for another small guard and defensive liability? The Knicks didn’t value Mitchell that high last year. Why would they suddenly increase their offer this summer?
While those pieces are absolutely part of the conversation, others also matter. For starters, Mitchell just played First Team All-NBA level basketball while sharing the backcourt with another small guard with a high usage rate.
Second, per Hoops Hype, this move would have the Knicks turning RJ Barrett, Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, and picks into a second top-ten player in the league and a third top-twenty player. Any team in the Eastern Conference could see themselves as contenders with that combination of players as their core.
It’s still true that Donovan Mitchell would elevate the Knicks to another tier in a tight Eastern Conference
For the Cavaliers, they have to be sweating. Yes, they just acquired Mitchell, but he only has two years remaining before a player option in his contract. Whether they want to admit it or not, his leaving for New York City at that point has to feel very real.
In this deal, they can turn Mitchell into a top-20 player who has four years left under contract and works in a position of need for them. That keeps this team competitive.
They recoup two years’ worth of draft picks they sent to Utah last summer. Plus, they get a chance to audition Toppin for a year.
The Bulls add a few protected picks and a young player in Barrett, which is a substantial value for LaVine. Furthermore, this move would let the Bulls head into the 2024-2025 offseason with potentially only Barrett under contract.
Three-team trades are complicated, but this one has enough for each team to at least make it worth a conversation. Mitchell is the marquee prize, but the Bulls and Cavs get players and assets that make sense for their situations.
I dunno… might just be the Lone Stars talkin’.