ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is known for his trademark rants, and on Thursday, the subject of one of those rants was that the New York Knicks — the team he is a fan of — need to trade for Utah Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.
Appearing on the ESPN show “First Take,“ Smith began his rant by saying, “Donovan Mitchell. Let me express myself. Ladies and gentlemen, Donovan Mitchell is a star.”
After lambasting former Knicks executive Phil Jackson for not drafting Mitchell in 2017, Smith continued, “Donovan Mitchell is a star. I have shut up because I don’t want to do anything to get in the way of them getting that brother.”
Bart Scott then joined the segment, which lasted four minutes, and the two began discussing what the trade package should be from the Knicks (Smith said he would be willing to have New York part with R.J. Barrett, although reporting elsewhere has indicated that the Jazz aren’t interested in Barrett).
“New York needs a star,” Smith said. “We need a star. I’m not talking about a Patrick Ewing-caliber star that needs somebody to throw you the ball 15 feet from the basket for a turnaround jump shot. I’m talking about the star (Carmelo Anthony) was supposed to be, and to a lesser degree he was.”
Smith then went on to say how the star talent level is less in the NBA’s Eastern Conference than it is in the West. “Give me this dude I can give the ball to when it counts and say, ‘Deliver for me.’ Give me the dude that’s going to give me 25 (points) a night and I know it.
“Donovan Mitchell is the man the New York Knicks should have drafted. He’s the man they should have had. They need to go get him, but you can’t give up six picks for him. That’s robbery.”
Scott noted that “the Knicks are negotiating against themselves” because they have the most draft assets of teams interested in Mitchell, “and that’s what (Jazz CEO) Danny Ainge wants. He doesn’t want players. He wants picks so he can build his future.”
Scott also opined that acquiring Mitchell would make the Knicks “interesting,” but not necessarily a real contender in the East.
Smith concluded the conversation by saying New York head coach Tom Thibodeau “can coach. Not saying (former Utah coach) Quin Snyder can’t. Tom Thibodeau can coach. They’re forgetting the allure of (Knicks arena Madison Square Garden), that Tom Thibodeau can coach and that the New York Knicks are a feisty bunch.”
Smith’s final words about Mitchell: “Get that man. Get that man.”