Latest rival superstar belief could shape how Knicks approach offseason trade

Will he be on the move again?
New York Knicks, Leon Rose
New York Knicks, Leon Rose / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

The 2024 offseason could see the New York Knicks cash in their assets for a superstar. The NBA has been waiting for that move. Two years ago, it seemed as if New York would go all-in for Donovan Mitchell, but his price tag was too high.

Here we are again. Mitchell could be back on the trade market this summer if he doesn't sign the extension he's eligible for. In his first season in Cleveland, the team was a first-round exit at the hands of New York. In 2024, the Cavaliers made it past the Magic in the first round, but it took seven games. In the semifinals, Cleveland lost to Boston, 4-1.

There is a lot of drama surrounding the Cavaliers, specifically Mitchell, Darius Garland, and J.B. Bickerstaff. The Athletic reported that if Mitchell signs a long-term deal to stay in Ohio, Garland's representation will seek a trade (subscription required). It seems as if it will come down to one or the other.

Based on the latest report from ESPN's Brian Windhorst, Cleveland is planning on having Mitchell hang around.

Cavs believe that Donovan Mitchell will sign offseason extension

To be clear, it doesn't matter what the Cavaliers believe. Mitchell could decide not to sign an extension, forcing the front office to consider an offseason trade. He has a $37 million player option for 2025-26 that he could decline next summer to become an unrestricted free agent.

If he doesn't want to extend, maybe he'll be a player the Knicks pursue (again) this summer. SNY's Ian Begley reported that if Mitchell's available, the team won't be as aggressive in trade talks as they were two years ago.

New York is a far different team than in the 2022 offseason. Since then, they've made back-to-back playoff appearances. Before the injuries piled up in 2023-24, the Knicks looked like true contenders, and that was without making a big splash for another star.

Maybe Mitchell will sign a deal to stay with the Cavaliers. If that's the case, he'll be wiped from New York's radar, as The Athletic's Fred Katz reported that the Knicks are targeting this summer as the time to trade for a star (subscription required). Or, maybe Mitchell still wants to play for his "hometown" squad, even though declining an extension doesn't mean he would be traded to New York.

If Mitchell were made available, there's no guarantee the Knicks would make the best offer. Desperate teams could be willing to offer more. If he doesn't end up in Manhattan, it won't be the end of the world, which is how it felt for some fans two years ago.