For weeks, the New York Knicks have been the presumptive front-runner to land three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell. Among their wealth of future first-round picks, bevy of complementary young players and Mitchell’s connection to New York City, the Knicks seemed primed, at some point, to acquire him.
However, according to a recent report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, New York is not the lone suitor aiming to trade for the 25-year-old star. Charania writes that “along with New York, several other teams have expressed interest to the Jazz when it comes to Mitchell, such as Washington, Miami, Toronto, Charlotte, Sacramento and Atlanta.”
Further, Charania noted that Mitchell has not requested a trade or “attempted to force his way out of Utah.” If the franchise does pivot toward a total rebuild, though, “Mitchell would prefer to be in an environment geared toward winning now, not later.”
Among the teams Charania specifically mentioned, Toronto seems like the most obvious suitor to rival New York, given Utah’s reported preference for a return package. The Heat could deal Tyler Herro, but like RJ Barrett, he’s in line for a new, well-deserved, lucrative contract soon and it seems the Jazz do not want to be tied up in significant long-term money as they shift to a rebuilding phase.
Meanwhile, Toronto sports various intriguing young players, has future picks and could greatly benefit from Mitchell’s offensive exploits in the backcourt. Prior to trading for Dejounte Murray, the Hawks would’ve been an interesting fit, but now seems highly unlikely to really be in the mix. The Mitchell-Trae Young duo presents clear defensive concerns, but that offensive firepower could have certainly been explosive. I remain intrigued by a Mitchell-LaMelo Ball guard tandem and think they complement each other’s offensive styles rather well, but whether the Hornets have the assets to land Mitchell remain to be seen.
I do wonder how much influence Mitchell will ultimately hold in determining where he ends up, if he is actually moved. If immediate winning is the goal, I’m not sure many of these suitors can offer that at a substantial level. Miami, Toronto and New York could — contingent on what exactly they give up — but Sacramento, Washington and Charlotte seem more precarious as it pertains to being a win-now situation. Atlanta would be excellent with three All-Stars at the helm, but its lack of draft capital post-Murray trade likely takes it out of the true contenders for Mitchell.
This feels, at least in part, to be the Jazz making sure the Knicks know it’s not just a one-team negotiation and that there are potentially other options out there.