Former longtime NBA player Richard Jefferson — who spent the 2013-2014 season with the Utah Jazz — has become a prominent commentator on the league, and earlier this week, he appeared on a podcast in which the possibility of Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell getting traded to the New York Knicks came up.
Speaking on a Knicks and Brooklyn Nets-centric show with Mike Bisceglia and Alex Benesowitz, Jefferson opined that the Knicks should do what it takes to acquire Mitchell.
The trio spoke for about 15 minutes, but the main portion of the conversation surrounding Mitchell took place at the beginning.
“My thing is this: (current Knicks guard) R.J. Barrett, you are hoping could become Donovan Mitchell, but you can get Donovan Mitchell,” Jefferson said.
Jefferson also said he feels Mitchell is between a top 20 and top 30 player in the NBA but that Mitchell is just entering his prime and has playoff experience and marketability for New York.
“He’s got all the things you can say, ‘We can build around him,’ right?” Jefferson said. “Maybe not to a championship level, but far better than what we’ve had in our more recent past, right?”
Jefferson said he feels no team general manager would choose Barrett over Mitchell, but “no one’s going to come to New York to play currently — currently, right now — with R.J. Barrett, currently. I’m not saying that this can’t progress.
“People will go play with Donovan Mitchell. People will be like, ‘Oh, if he’s there, OK, like listen, I’ll go team up with that guy.’”
Jefferson said any assets the Knicks would have to give up to acquire Mitchell would be worth it.
“The Knicks, if you have a chance to get Donovan Mitchell, you get Donovan Mitchell,” Jefferson said.
Jefferson compared any players the Knicks might give up in a deal to the haul of players the Los Angeles Lakers traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis and said this should be a similar situation, even if Mitchell is not on the same level as a healthy Davis.
“When you look back on that trade, and you had to give up Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, you had to give up picks, you had to give up Brandon Ingram — a future young All-Star,” Jefferson said.
“Think about that. You don’t want to give up Brandon Ingram, but if you can get Anthony Davis, you better ... that’s the move you make. That’s the thing with New York.”