Knicks' William Wesley: Jazz Tried to 'Rip Somebody off' in Donovan Mitchell Trade

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 9, 2022

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

The New York Knicks' decision to pass on acquiring All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz ultimately came down to what they felt was an exorbitant asking price.

Appearing Friday on SiriusXM Radio (h/t Marc Berman of the New York Post), Basketball Hall of Famer and NBA on TNT analyst Charles Barkley passed on what Knicks senior vice president William Wesley told him about the negotiations:

"I'm going to give you inside information. I asked why didn't you make the trade. He said, 'Oh man. Don't go by the media stuff. They wanted my wife, my kids, my grandkids. I was not going to give them … we wanted the deal obviously, but they were just trying to rip somebody off. We had to pass on it.'"

Utah ultimately dealt Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers instead, receiving Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, Collin Sexton, three unprotected first-round picks and two pick swaps in return.

Berman previously reported that Jazz president Danny Ainge initially asked the Knicks for seven first-round picks in a trade for Mitchell. It was later reported that Utah wanted wing RJ Barrett included in the deal.

As negotiations continued to stall, the Knicks decided to sign Barrett to a contract extension instead, and that move may have been the death knell to the chances of Mitchell going to New York.

Utah's reportedly high asking price may have derived from the fact that they were able to get a ton out of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the trade of All-Star center Rudy Gobert earlier in the offseason.

Despite Gobert being far older and less offensively dynamic than Mitchell, the Jazz received four first-round picks, one pick swap and five players for him.

Had the Knicks managed to acquire Mitchell without giving up Barrett, they may have had a playoff roster on their hands with Mitchell joining Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and free-agent signing Jalen Brunson.

The drawback is that New York likely would have had to part with many of its future assets, including draft picks and players like Quentin Grimes, Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley.

Even without Mitchell, the Knicks have a chance to be legitimate playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference, especially if Brunson performs close to the level he achieved with the Dallas Mavericks during last season's playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Cavs look like playoff locks and even dark-horse contenders to win the entire conference with Mitchell joining Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert and others.

As for the Jazz, they are now in a full rebuild, and they may not be done making moves, as they still have plenty of valuable veterans they could trade.

It promises to be a long road back to playoff contention for Utah, but with the king's bounty of picks it received for Mitchell and Gobert, the future looks bright.


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