Is the Donovan Mitchell era in Utah over?
It’s become one of the hottest topics in NBA offseason chatter this week, with reports of the Utah Jazz being willing to listen to trade offers for their star guard and the New York Knicks engaging with Utah in trade discussions.
If the Jazz ultimately decide to trade Mitchell, what makes the Knicks a strong suitor?
New York has a deep reservoir of draft capital: the Knicks have eight tradable first-round picks, including four from other teams, per CBS Sports.
What could the Jazz receive in a Donovan Mitchell trade with the Knicks?
This week, a pair of stories have examined what kind of haul the Jazz could get in trading Mitchell, who’s under contract for four more years, including scenarios involving the Knicks.
ESPN offered up five Mitchell trade scenarios Thursday morning, leading with the three-time All-Star heading to New York.
In exchange for Utah sending Mitchell and Rudy Gay to the Knicks, the Jazz would receive Evan Fournier, Cam Reddish, Obi Toppin and Miles McBride, as well as New York’s 2023, 2025 and 2027 first-round picks, and two first-round picks the Knicks have acquired from other teams — the Dallas Mavericks’ 2023 pick (top-10 protected) and the Wizards’ 2023 pick (top-14 protected).
“It’s no secret Mitchell has been atop the Knicks’ wish list since Leon Rose was hired to run the franchise. The Jazz, as proven by the haul Utah received in the Gobert deal, want to stock up on first-round picks, create financial flexibility and take some flyers on inexpensive young talent,” ESPN’s Tim MacMahon wrote.
“This deal would be a win in all of those departments and launch the Jazz into a full-fledged rebuild with a ton of draft capital as the foundation of that project.”
Brett Siegel of Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation also offered up his best take at a Jazz-Knicks trade.
In this scenario, Utah would send Mitchell to New York in exchange for RJ Barrett, Fournier, Reddish, the Knicks’ first-round picks (all unprotected) in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, as well as Dallas’ 2023 first-round pick.
“The addition of Donovan Mitchell would surely shift the tide for the Knicks heading into the 2022-23 season, but he would not come at a cheap price,” Siegel wrote.
“Not only would they have to offer up multiple first-round picks from 2023-2029, but the Knicks may very well have to part ways with a young, rising talent like RJ Barrett.”
Is RJ Barrett being a part of the trade a possibility?
The 22-year-old has started all but one game he’s played since the Knicks took him third overall in the 2019 NBA draft. This past season, he averaged a career-best in 20.0 points per game, to go with 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest.
He’s headed into the final year of his four-year rookie contract and is scheduled to make $10.9 million in base salary in the 2022-23 season, per Spotrac. He’s eligible for a contract extension this summer.
According to SNY.tv’s Ian Begley, though, the thought of including Barrett in any sort of trade may be a nonstarter.
“People in touch with the club recently said New York has had no interest in trading RJ Barrett in any deal,” Begley reported Wednesday morning.
CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn echoed those sentiments, though he doesn’t see a trade between the two teams falling apart if Barrett isn’t involved.
“The line in the sand here is probably former No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett. After all, if the Knicks trade everything for Mitchell, they’re left with little room for improvement. Pairing Mitchell (25 years old) with Barrett (22) and Jalen Brunson (25) would give New York three young studs to grow around,” Quinn wrote.
“Would Barrett be a deal-breaker for Utah? Probably not, especially in light of the limitations facing other suitors here. If the Knicks put seven or eight first-rounders on the table, nobody else is going to top that. Right now, they’re in the driver’s seat with or without Barrett, and that likely suits Utah just fine. He’s too good to properly tank with anyway.”
What other interesting trade scenarios are out there?
ESPN’s other potential trade scenarios included looking at how the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets could acquire Mitchell.
The Thunder trade scenario involves Derrick Favors returning to Utah, as well as the first-round pick the Jazz traded along with him to Oklahoma City in 2021.
The Heat have come up numerous times as a destination for Mitchell, and ESPN proposed a three-team trade (including Miami and OKC) where the Jazz would receive Tyler Herro, Nikola Jovic, Duncan Robinson and Gabe Vincent, as well as first-round picks in 2023, 2027 and 2029.
The deal would send Mitchell and Udoke Azubuike to Miami, while the Thunder would get a collection of four future draft picks.
The craziest ESPN scenario, though, involves a five-team trade titled “the trade that might break NBA twitter” and involves several big names.
In this proposed trade, the Nets get Mitchell, Mikal Bridges and Myles Turner, the Phoenix Suns get Kevin Durant, who’s requested a trade from Brooklyn, the Indiana Pacers get DeAndre Ayton and the Jazz get Ben Simmons and a plethora of Suns picks: Phoenix’s picks in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, and swaps with the Suns in 2024, 2026 and 2028.
“Utah gets an absolute haul for Mitchell, getting Phoenix’s draft picks for the next several years in addition to taking a free swing on Simmons,” ESPN’s Tim Bontemps wrote.
One side note to the massive five-team trade proposal, though: Thursday afternoon, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Ayton is signing an offer sheet with the Pacers, giving the Suns two days to match what is the largest offer sheet in NBA history at a reported four years, $133 million.