New York had been going hard after Mitchell, and it was seen as the most likely destination for the three-time All-Star.
In the end, Utah Jazz executive Danny Ainge didn’t receive an offer from the Knicks he liked enough, and he went in a different direction.
At first glance, this seems like yet another failure when it comes to the Knicks trying to land a big-name NBA star or superstar.
Knicks fans after missing out on KD, Kyrie, Zion, and now Donovan Mitchell: pic.twitter.com/CaZAuSLf9b
— Bryson🐻 (@BrysonWright3) September 1, 2022
But when taking all things into consideration, perhaps it was better that they didn’t cave in to Ainge’s demands.
The Jazz Were Asking For The World In Return For Mitchell
After getting a king’s ransom in return for All-Star center Rudy Gobert earlier this summer, it looked like Utah wanted the equivalent of the Lincoln Tunnel and Grand Central Station for Mitchell.
It is thought that the Knicks would’ve therefore had to give up RJ Barrett in any Mitchell deal.
The Knicks offer to the Jazz in July:
3 1st-round picks (unprotected)
for Donovan Mitchell.
The Jazz declined. 😳
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) September 2, 2022
In addition, if Mitchell had been sent to New York, it might’ve ended up as a three-team trade with the Los Angeles Lakers where the Jazz would’ve gotten Russell Westbrook.
In that case, by buying out the final year of Westbrook’s contract, which is worth $47 million, the Jazz would’ve also gained salary cap savings.
However, perhaps Ainge wanted to screw over the Knicks.
It is worth remembering that Ainge was a key member of the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics of the 1980s and that the Celtics have a historical rivalry with the Knicks.
With New York still in flux coming on the heels of a disappointing season one year after finishing fourth and making the playoffs, it had no reason to make any type of desperate move.
The Knicks Need To Be Patient And Plan Wisely For The Future
A team that is in New York’s situation shouldn’t give up many future first-round draft picks for a player that won’t make it championship contenders.
As great as Mitchell is, he falls just short of superstar status, and a trade for him would’ve likely made the Knicks only good enough to make the playoffs as a lower seed in the Eastern Conference.
As it stands, they have a solid backcourt with the ascending Barrett and newcomer Jalen Brunson, who had a very strong postseason performance a few months ago while with the Dallas Mavericks.
The big question is what to do with Julius Randle, whose play declined in the 2021-22 season following a breakout 2020-21 campaign that sent him to the All-Star Game for the first time.
The Knicks need to decide what their plan will be to build the title contender that the Tri-State Area has deserved for a long time.