The Utah Jazz technically have until the February trade deadline to move Donovan Mitchell this season, but the team is hoping to trade him much sooner than that, according to Brian Windhorst, who covers the NBA for ESPN.
In the latest episode of his podcast, Windhorst said the Jazz are pushing to get a deal done before players report to camp at the end of September.
“It sounds to me in talking to people around the league that the Jazz want to try to go ... before training camp,” he said on “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective.”
Tim Bontemps, another ESPN reporter who was also on the episode, confirmed that he’s been hearing the same things.
“It doesn’t makes sense for the Jazz to have him on the team when training camp starts and it doesn’t make sense for the Knicks (the Jazz’s most likely trade partner) to not have him on the team,” he said.
But both men noted that the deadline is also a bargaining tool. It helps the Jazz put pressure on potential trade partners to put forward their best deal.
“The Jazz are trying to apply the gas here to juice the offers,” Windhorst said.
He and his podcast guests went on to discuss what the best possible offers from a handful of teams would look like and why a potential Knicks’ package would be strongest of all.
Teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers or Miami Heat do have valuable picks to offer, but it seems clear that dealing with the New York Knicks would work out best for the Jazz in the long-run, Windhorst said.
“To me, if I’m in the Jazz front office, I am trying to get as many unprotected Knicks picks as I can get in this trade,” he said, adding that the quality of the picks in a trade matters as much or more than the quantity.
Earlier this week, The Athletic reported that the Jazz have already turned down an offer from the Knicks that included two unprotected first-round draft picks and three other first-round picks in an article that also highlighted the Jazz’s conversations with the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards.
Moving forward, the Jazz will have to make sure the Knicks believe that other teams are truly interested, Windhorst said. The Knicks won’t up their offer if they decide they’re only bidding against themselves.
Although the idea of a training camp deadline makes sense for everyone, it’s important to keep in mind that such a deadline is arbitrary. Jazz leaders aren’t going to wrap-up trade talks until they’re confident that they’ve gotten the best deal that can be had, said ESPN reporter Tim MacMahon on the podcast.
“Danny Ainge is not going to pull the trigger until he gets his price,” he said.
And once he does “pull the trigger,” there could be even more moves made, Windhorst said.
He said that you shouldn’t rule out future trades involving Bojan Bogdanović and Mike Conley.
In general, across the league, there’s “still a lot more business to happen here,” Windhorst said.