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When the Utah Jazz traded Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves for a package where future draft picks (four firsts and a first round swap) were the headliner, the attention immediately shifted to Donovan Mitchell’s future in Salt Lake.
Initially, the Jazz were insistent that they wanted to build around Mitchell, but it only took two weeks for that to change to them being willing to listen to trade offers for the All-Star guard. Mitchell figured to garner plenty of interest from around the league, but the Knicks jumped to the front of the line in terms of teams with the combination of strong interest and the expected asset pool capable of landing Mitchell. After making lots of moves on draft night to acquire future firsts, the Knicks have eight future first round picks they are eligible to trade at this moment, allowing them to outbid just about any other suitor for Mitchell in terms of a future-facing trade package — which is what the Jazz will want.
Late Wednesday night, word broke from Shams Charania and Tony Jones of The Athletic that the two sides have “begun discussions” on Mitchell trade talks, advancing beyond preliminary discussions and into actual framework talk in the last day.
The Jazz are having conversations with multiple teams on a Mitchell deal, but the Knicks have emerged as the focused destination over the past several days, sources said. Both sides have discussed a deal framework in the past 24 hours, those sources said.
For New York, Mitchell would be their biggest star acquisition since Carmelo Anthony and would give them a formidable offensive backcourt with the newly signed Jalen Brunson — albeit with some defensive question marks. For Utah, New York can send them the most picks back and, as Jones and Charania note, have some young players like Quentin Grimes who intrigue them. What is maybe most interesting in the report is that RJ Barrett isn’t mentioned at all, indicating the Knicks would like to keep the young star two-guard, pushing him out to the three in lineups with Brunson and Mitchell.
The Knicks can cobble together salaries to make the money work to offset Mitchell’s $30 million deal, with Evan Fournier’s $18 million deal the most likely financial centerpiece of a deal filled with other young players and draft picks. It’s not a guarantee that the two sides can reach an agreement immediately, but it does seem like both parties have the motivation to get a deal done sooner than later so that they can begin planning for next season in earnest. For Utah in particular, moving Mitchell would allow them to enter a full on sale mode, with veterans becoming available for young players and assets.