NBA Rumors: Hated rival expected to pursue potential Knicks trade target

New York Knicks, Leon Rose, William Wesley
New York Knicks, Leon Rose, William Wesley / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

As it's been for the past couple of years, the question remains as to which star the New York Knicks will trade for. The Sixers are excelling without James Harden, but what's the chance things will take a turn for the worst and Joel Embiid will want out? Probably a very little one. What about Donovan Mitchell?

Of all the stars the Knicks have shown interest in, Mitchell is likeliest to be on the move. It doesn't matter that Cleveland swooped in and traded for him in 2022. He's still been tied to New York, and that'll remain the case until he suits up for the Knicks, if that ever happens.

Mitchell didn't sign an extension over the offseason, and the belief is he won't sign one next summer, either. He has a $37 million player option for 2025-26 that he could decline to become a free agent, but it's unlikely the Cavaliers will let his situation get to that point.

Action Network's Matt Moore reported that "everyone expects" Mitchell to leave the Cavaliers in free agency if he's still on their roster. Moore added there's a "conflicting belief" about whether or not the guard has told Cleveland his future plans.

New York is considered the frontrunner for Mitchell if a trade happens, but Moore reported that if the Knicks can't get a deal done, Brooklyn could swoop in.

"One name I heard from multiple sources to look out for if the Knicks can't get a deal done for Mitchell is the always-star-shopping Brooklyn Nets, who have a plethora of assets to get such a deal done."

Matt Moore, Action Network

Nets expected to go after Donovan Mitchell if he hits trade market

The Nets were among the teams interested in Donovan Mitchell when the Jazz made him available. It's no secret that Mitchell wants to play back home, so it could come down to New York or Brooklyn in trade talks.

The Knicks are currently two spots ahead of the Nets in the Eastern Conference standings. New York should be able to widen that gap as the season wears on.

Brooklyn has key players in Mikal Bridges, Cam Thomas, and Cameron Johnson that have helped keep the Nets in play-in range, but New York has the more talented roster. If Mitchell had a choice of where to go (and he won't), he'd likely choose the Knicks. That's New York's team.

The thing is that none of that will matter to Cleveland in trade discussions. The Cavaliers should want the best offer, and if that were to come from the Nets, Mitchell's next team could be Brooklyn.