Stephen A.: Ainge Said He'd Trade Donovan Mitchell to Knicks 'When Hell Freezes Over'

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVOctober 19, 2022

Utah Jazz CEO, Danny Ainge, speaks withe reporters during an NBA basketball Media Day news conference Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

The New York Knicks were seemingly the favorite to land Donovan Mitchell this offseason, but Utah Jazz CEO Danny Ainge reportedly had no interest in making a deal, as ESPN's Stephen A. Smith explained:

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"When the [Knicks brass] showed up for the playoff game with [Jalen] Brunson on one side and Donovan Mitchell on the other, I was told that Danny Ainge sat up there and said, 'when hell freezes over will I do a deal with them.'"<br><br>— <a href="https://twitter.com/stephenasmith?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@stephenasmith</a><a href="https://t.co/vfhW9lZfyM">pic.twitter.com/vfhW9lZfyM</a>

Knicks executive vice president William Wesley, forward Julius Randle and assistant general manager Allan Houston were all in attendance for Game 1 of the first-round playoff series between the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz in April. The Knicks signed former Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson in free agency this offseason and were clearly targeting former Jazz guard Mitchell.

Utah instead sent Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for three players, three first-round picks and two pick swaps.

The Knicks sent the Jazz serious offers early in the offseason, with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reporting there was a package that included RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin and three unrestricted first-round picks. Utah turned that offer down.

Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes were also discussed in trade talks, although the Knicks didn't want to deal Grimes.

Even Mitchell thought he was "going back home" to New York:

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"I thought for sure I was going back home, I'm not gonna lie about that."<a href="https://twitter.com/spidadmitchell?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@spidadmitchell</a> on being hopeful that he was going home to play for the Knicks<a href="https://t.co/jKWmYFK7tB">pic.twitter.com/jKWmYFK7tB</a>

Regardless of the reasoning, Ainge decided to make the deal with the Cavaliers instead of the Knicks.

Utah now has a long road to rebuild after also trading away Rudy Gobert this offseason.

The Knicks will hope the addition of Brunson is enough to improve upon last year's 37-45 record.