The New York Knicks were perceived to be the favorites to trade for All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, but the Utah Jazz ended up trading him to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a surprising move on Thursday.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said at the 8:05 mark of The Woj Pod that while the Knicks believed they were in the driver's seat, the Jazz didn't give them the chance to one-up the offer from the Cavaliers:
"I do think New York expected they would circle back, and they never got another chance with Utah. Utah did not go back to them on Thursday and say, 'Hey, we've got this offer from Cleveland. Do you want to top it?' In their mind, when New York walked on Monday, that was it. They had a deal with Cleveland that they just did, agreed to it. And New York found out after that Mitchell deal was already agreed to, that he was on his way to Cleveland, and Utah was not circling back with New York to give them a chance to top the deal."
New York was reportedly hesitant to meet Utah's demands regarding draft pick compensation.
"They thought they had [Jazz CEO of basketball operations and alternate governor Danny Ainge] and Utah over the barrel," a source told Marc Berman of the New York Post regarding the Knicks' approach to negotiations with the Jazz. "They held back on best offers of picks and players, and Danny got his three unprotected."
Berman added that one of New York's final offers to Utah was "two unprotected first-rounders and three conditional picks with [RJ] Barrett." Ainge was interested in including second-year shooting guard Quentin Grimes, but Knicks president Leon Rose "didn't think Ainge really had an offer with three unprotected first-rounders and withheld Grimes from any offers."
The Knicks signed Barrett to a four-year contract extension worth up to $120 million, which made it harder for the 22-year-old to be included in trade discussions for Mitchell. That allowed the Jazz to seek a deal elsewhere, and the offer from the Cavs was enough to entice them to part ways with the three-time All-Star.
While New York added a prized free agent in point guard Jalen Brunson earlier this offseason, the team is still in search of the superstar it has missed since Carmelo Anthony departed in 2017.