I have consumed every piece of “Donovan Mitchell to the Knicks” content I can get my hands on. Every podcast. Every article. Every two-minute TV clip shared on Twitter.
All of them boil down to the same general idea: No team will currently be able to out-bid the Knicks for Mitchell’s services, at least in terms of potential draft picks, which seems to be what the Jazz are prioritizing. So he’ll be a Knick if Leon Rose and company want him badly enough.
SNY’s Ian Begley hinted at something similar when he wrote, “New York will have competition. Miami has had interest in Mitchell. Members of the Nets organization have seen Mitchell as a potential target. Thanks to their future first-round picks, the Knicks can probably top either team’s best offer.” Begley later added that “this will come down to how many picks the Knicks are willing to include (particularly how many unprotected picks they’re willing to include).”
Donovan Mitchell will be a Knick if Leon Rose and company want him badly enough
Begley explained some important details all Knicks fans should know about the cost of any potential Mitchell deals. (If you haven’t already, please click the link and check out Begley’s full article.)
First, he outlined New York’s draft pick situation. Begley points out the Knicks have up to eight first-round picks they could use to acquire Mitchell — four unprotected picks and four protected picks obtained from other teams.
Fans have to hope that whatever deal happens, the Knicks have two or three of the eight total picks leftover. An agreement that included six or seven (or God forbid all eight) selections would have to be light on valuable players for the Knicks to still feel like they won the trade.
Begley then outlines the price and players that would have to be involved in a workable deal under current CBA rules. If operating under the assumption that RJ Barrett and Julius Randle will most likely not be part of this trade, as Begley wisely does, a framework must include Evan Fournier or Derrick Rose to send back at least $24.2 million in salary to the Jazz.
With Begley’s Fournier and Rose constructions in mind, here’s what might be the most realistic deal that still feels like a win for the Knicks:
2028 1st Round Pick (Least Favorable Protected)
2023 1st Round Pick, 2023 1st Round Pick (Top-10 Protected, via Dallas), 2025 1st Round Pick, 2027 1st Round Pick, 2028 1st Round Pick (Most Favorable Protected), 2029 1st Round Pick
From an asset-management perspective, this aligns pretty neatly with the framework that landed Rudy Gobert in Minnesota. Of course, the Jazz will push for more picks for Mitchell, but the Knicks should stand firm on an offer that includes four unprotected firsts, one protected first, and one pick swap. Replace the protected pick with Walker Kessler, and you essentially have what Minnesota sent to Utah. If Danny Ainge asks for anything more, the Knicks should walk away at that point.
Here, the Knicks also keep all three of Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin. It will be difficult sending that many draft picks out the door, but the Knicks can still feel like winners if they hold onto their three most valuable young players outside of Barrett.
This deal would leave the Knicks with the following two-deep rotation:
PG: Jalen Brunson, Rose
SG: Mitchell, Quickley
SF: Barrett, Grimes
PF: Randle, Toppin
C: Mitchell Robinson, Isaiah Hartenstein
On paper, that feels like a playoff team in the Eastern Conference if things meld correctly. Both Barrett and Randle will need to take a back seat on offense to re-focus on defense for this to work. If that happens, this would be a much-improved team with an average age under 25.
The Knicks should pull the trigger if they can get the Jazz to buy into the above construction.