Donovan Mitchell is under contract for at least the next three seasons in Utah, but that isn't stopping speculation he may attempt to force a trade to the New York Knicks.
"They’re a first-round exit from Donovan being in New York," an Eastern Conference scout told Ric Bucher of Fox Sports.
The Jazz have been one of the NBA's biggest playoff disappointments in recent seasons, failing to get past the second round during the Mitchell-Rudy Gobert era. The relationship between the two Utah stars has also been the source of constant speculation since Gobert's actions during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the two players mended fences and grew closer last season, signs of discord again reared up this month when Gobert made public comments about teammates not playing winning basketball.
“When I watch some of these other teams like the Suns or the Warriors, those guys are a step ahead of us in terms of winning habits,” Gobert told reporters earlier this month. “They take every game personally. Devin Booker is playing his ass off defensively. I’ve been watching him compared to two years ago.
“Guys like that, they buy in. You can tell they take pride in playing defense, stopping their man, doing whatever they can defensively to stop the other team and be a part of a winning culture. I think we’re not there yet, but I think we’re gonna get there.”
Mitchell liked a tweet that speculated Gobert's comments were a "subtweet" of the All-Star guard. When asked about why he liked the tweet, Mitchell offered a terse answer that did little to quell concern over potential beef between the two stars.
Mitchell is in the first year of a five-year max contract that takes him through at least the 2024-25 season. Gobert is also under contract through 2024-25. The only way a breakup between the pair happens in the foreseeable future is if someone tries forcing their way out via trade.
The Knicks, who have clawed their way back to relevancy the last two seasons under Tom Thibodeau, are bound to be at the center of trade speculation regarding stars in the upcoming months. Julius Randle's star has dimmed after an All-NBA breakout in 2020-21, making it clear the team will need to acquire a true 1A superstar to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Mitchell is arguably not that guy himself—he's never made an All-NBA team—but he may wind up being the most available if things start going south in Utah.