Donovan Mitchell Trade Rumors: Jazz's Danny Ainge Eyed 7 of Knicks' 1st-Round Picks

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 20, 2022

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The New York Knicks' pursuit of All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz is reportedly centered around the number of first-round draft picks they're willing to move.

NBA insider Marc Stein reported the latest update Tuesday on Stein Line Live (via HoopsHype) about Jazz CEO Danny Ainge's push for more of New York's future selections.

"My intel has been that the Knicks are trying to do this only surrendering four or five firsts," Stein said. "But someone I trust told me today that they think that Danny was going for seven of the eight firsts."

Utah already helped set the market for blockbuster trades this offseason when it sent three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves. That deal featured four first-round picks and an additional pick swap.

It's unlikely Mitchell would be moved for less than that, and it's no surprise the Jazz are seeking even more given the premium value of guards in today's NBA compared to an old-school center like Gobert despite his high-end production at the defensive end.

The question is whether the Knicks are prepared to stake pretty much their entire future on Mitchell.

SNY's Ian Begley reported last week that New York's front office is "wary" that giving up too much in the deal would leave it without "enough left on the roster to field a contending team."

The Knicks haven't featured an offensive talent of Mitchell's caliber since Carmelo Anthony, who last played for the franchise in 2016-17, but the Melo years also showed that having a high-end scorer doesn't guarantee team success if there isn't enough talent around him.

Giving up seven first-rounders would also limit New York's ability to add young players on team-friendly contracts to fill out the bottom of the roster.

Yet, the Knicks are also facing a lot pressure to revitalize the roster this summer after missing the playoffs with a 37-45 record one season after ending a seven-year playoff drought.

Mitchell could certainly provide a massive boost heading toward 2022-23. He's coming off a season in which he averaged 25.9 points, 5.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 3.5 threes and 1.5 steals across 67 games for Utah.

Pairing the three-time All-Star with RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and the recently signed Jalen Brunson would give the Knicks a formidable starting lineup, but depth would already be a concern before the future first-rounders even come into play.

All told, there's no indication the sides are close to a blockbuster agreement, but the link between Mitchell and the Knicks continues to linger.


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