LAS VEGAS — The Knicks and their fans can dream. Donovan Mitchell could be had for the right offer.
The Jazz, in the process of remaking their team after a disappointing first-round playoff exit, are listening to overtures for the star guard from Elmsford, N.Y., ESPN reported. The Knicks, who have long been enamored with Mitchell, are believed to be one of Mitchell’s suitors, according to The Athletic.
There are connections between Mitchell and the Knicks. He is repped by CAA, the agency Knicks president Leon Rose once ran. In the past, Mitchell has praised Rose — one of his agents before joining the Knicks — as the right man to lead his favorite team growing up. Knicks assistant coach Johnnie Bryant is very close to Mitchell, dating back to his days with the Jazz. And, of course, the former Louisville star and 13th overall pick in the 2017 draft is a New Yorker and a big Mets fan.
The 25-year-old Mitchell has reached the All-Star Game each of the past three years and has averaged 23.9 points and 4.5 assists during his five-year career with the Jazz. He has four years and $134.9 million remaining on the maximum rookie extension he signed during the 2020 offseason. He has a $37.1 million option for the final year.
Now, it will likely take a haul to land Mitchell. The Jazz recently traded center Rudy Gobert, a quality player, but not someone as valuable as Mitchell, and they received a boatload from the Timberwolves. They landed four unprotected first-round picks, a pick swap and useful players Patrick Beverly, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt, along with the 20th pick in this year’s draft, center Walker Kessler.
When asked at the NBA summer league if Mitchell was untouchable, Jazz general manager Justin Zanik told reporters: “Change is inevitable in the NBA. I’m not trying to be cryptic or anything else, but Donovan is on our roster and he’s a very, very important part of what we’re trying to do. Things evolve in the NBA, so I couldn’t sit here and say anybody is [untouchable].”
The Knicks do have plenty of draft picks — 11 first-round picks over the next seven years. It remains to be seen if Rose will be willing to part with RJ Barrett, the kind of young, impact player who would be needed to land someone like Mitchell. They would also have to move around a lot of money to fit Mitchell under the salary cap, dealing multiple veterans to create the necessary room.
Without including Barrett in a deal, it would seem doubtful the Knicks have enough to land Mitchell, since their other young players, such as Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes, aren’t nearly as established.
“I don’t know if they have enough if Barrett’s not involved for a top-15 player [like Mitchell],” former Nets executive and ESPN analyst Bobby Marks recently told The Post. “It could change. I don’t know if they have a blue-chip prospect. Looking at it from a baseball [perspective], Triple-A guy, you’re ready to call him up and be your starting pitcher. They’re nice young players. That certainly could change this year.”
But the Knicks may not have this year for those players to prove themselves and improve their value. Mitchell could be on the move now and they are expected to be involved.