Donovan Mitchell’s trade to the Knicks makes too much sense not to happen

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The impending breakup of the Utah Jazz was the NBA’s worst-kept secret over the past year, but no one knew what the team would look like once they broke off a talented core after they went extinct in the first playoff round. When the Jazz finally agreed to a trade with Rudy Gobert, the return package told the league everything it needed to know about Utah’s future intentions.

The Jazz basically got five Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick for Gobert — three of them unprotected, one top-five protected and Auburn center Walker Kessler who was just ranked No. 22 overall in the NBA Draft 2022. Yes, there were veterans in the package to match the pay as well (Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley and Patrick Beverly among them), but the Jazz clearly entered into this particular deal with a long-term rebuild in mind.

Initial reports indicated that the Jazz intended to keep Donovan Mitchell and continue to build around him, but that never made much sense given that the rest of the roster was being torn down around him. him. Now Utah’s real plan is coming into focus: Mitchell would be on the trading block, and it’s likely going to take a huge package of picks and attractive young players to land him.

It’s no secret that the New York Knicks were going to be interested in Mitchell. Knicks executives were spotted in the stands watch Mitchell during Utah’s first-round playoff series (on the opposing team was Jalen Brunson, who signed a more than $100 million contract with New York earlier this offseason). Mitchell is from Westchester County, New York. The Knicks have been quietly negotiating to amass future first-round picks for years, and now those picks could be the basis for the league’s next big trade.

On Wednesday night, The Athletic reported that the Knicks and Jazz were discussing a trade with Mitchell. Other teams are in play, but New York is the favorite. The framework of the agreement is already beginning to take shape.

What would a Knicks trade for Donovan Mitchell look like?

Perhaps the most interesting part of The Athletic’s report was one name kept out of the prospect deal: RJ Barrett. Barrett is due for a big overtime, and the Jazz must think he doesn’t fit their timeline for a rebuild.

Instead, the only name mentioned in the report was Quentin Grimes, the Knicks’ second-year guard who may have been the best player in the entire Las Vegas Summer League. Expect Grimes to be part of the trade. Then start including New York’s future first-round picks. The Knicks have a lot of them.

Although the agreement is likely to be expanded, a framework for trade might look like this:

  • The Knicks get: Donovan Mitchell
  • jazz get: Quentin Grimes, Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley.

Add Evan Fournier to make salaries work. Add at least two future unprotected first-round picks that originally belonged to the Knicks, and maybe three first round that New York currently has other teams.

This works on the commercial machine:

It may be too much for Mitchell. Utah could only get 1-2 from the Grimes-Quickley-Toppin group instead of all three based on how much draft capital they want in return. But the basic framework makes sense.

The Jazz can add to their chest of draft picks and pick up some pretty decent young players in the process. Utah can maximize the chances of their own draft pick this year and shoot for French super prospect Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft. G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson is one heck of a prize. consolation if he lands in second place.

The Knicks have been looking for a star since hiring Leon Rose to lead the front office. Mitchell is represented by CAA, the same agency Rose ran. New York would have a completely revamped backcourt with Jalen Brunson and Mitchell. RJ Barrett will always be there. It’s possible, even likely, that Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson are still around, too. The Knicks also made one of the best sleeper signings in free agency when they signed Isaiah Hartenstein to a two-year contract away from the Clippers.

You can debate how the items on this Knicks roster actually fit together, but they’re certainly a much more talented group than the one that finished 37-45 last year.

At this point, it would be more surprising if Mitchell is not traded to the Knicks. It just makes too much sense on both sides not to happen.

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