Possibility of New York Knicks trading for star guard called into question

Jalen Brunson has taken over the star spotlight.

New York Knicks, Leon Rose
New York Knicks, Leon Rose / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Since Leon Rose took over as team president in 2020, the New York Knicks have been on the hunt for a superstar. Rose came to the organization from CAA, where he was a top basketball agent to stars like Joel Embiid.

He hasn't traded for a star CAA client but has signed one. Jalen Brunson's connection to Rose and his family goes much deeper than the agency, but it certainly helped. Rose and the Knicks were criticized for giving Brunson a four-year, $104 million deal in 2022 free agency, but that criticism has since turned to praise.

Brunson has blossomed into a star in New York, but the Knicks still have their treasure chest of assets to pursue a superstar if they choose to do so. One player who has been linked to the team over the past few years is Donovan Mitchell, who CAA also represents. New York didn't want to send the farm to Utah for him in 2022, but Cleveland did.

Mitchell joining the Cavaliers didn't quiet the Knicks trade rumors. A first-round exit to New York in the 2023 playoffs didn't help. Mitchell didn't sign an extension with Cleveland before the 2023-24 season, which only ignited the rumors even more.

Will Knicks go after Donovan Mitchell if he becomes available?

Even though the Cavaliers were without Darius Garland and Evan Mobley for a few weeks, they stayed red-hot. Cleveland currently sits four games ahead of New York in the East with a 38-19 record, second to Boston.

Mitchell is averaging 28.2 points per game, close to the career-high 28.3 he averaged last season. If he and the Cavaliers can carry their regular season success over to the playoffs, the trade rumors should quiet down a bit, especially if he signs an extension in the offseason.

If he doesn't sign an extension, he'll have a $37 million player option in 2025-26 that he could decline to enter unrestricted free agency. Cleveland would likely trade him then let things get to that point. If that happens, New York could be interested (again). As for ESPN's Brian Windhorst, he isn't so sure that the door to a Knicks-Mitchell trade is as open as it was in 2022.

To be clear, Windhorst said that he isn't sure Mitchell still wants to go to New York. It doesn't mean a deal won't happen. If Mitchell requests a trade, Cleveland isn't obligated to send him where he wants to go. If the Knicks are interested and make the best offer, it'll be hard for the Cavaliers to say no. Look at the Damian Lillard-Trail Blazers saga for reference.

Windhorst also said he isn't certain about Mitchell's fit with the Knicks. When New York was engaged in trade conversations for him two years ago, the defensive liability of a Brunson-Mitchell backcourt was a main talking point. One thing's for sure: that duo would be electric on the offensive end.

The truth is that there isn't much use in wondering too much about a Mitchell trade, at least until the offseason is here. He could decide to stay in Cleveland long-term, eliminating the idea of a trade completely.