Knicks Rumors: Top Trade Buzz as 2020 Postseason Continues

Martin FennCorrespondent IAugust 23, 2020

Utah Jazz's Donovan Mitchell (45) dunks against the Denver Nuggets during the second half of an NBA basketball first round playoff game Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

New York Knicks fans have had a few days to stew over their bad luck in the 2020 NBA draft lottery.

The Knicks not only failed to move up from the projected No. 6 slot, but they also fell two spots to the eighth overall pick.

A possible leap in the draft order might have given the Knicks a better chance at landing top point guard prospect LaMelo Ball, who would like to play in New York, per Marc Berman of the New York Post. Now it seems the Knicks could explore trade avenues.

Ian Begley of SNY.tv reported there are members of the organization who believe the Knicks are "well-positioned to trade for a star" and that the No. 8 pick could be an asset they use in the market instead of making the pick.

Begley also noted the Knicks could trade down, though moving to acquire a star is the likelier option if New York does not make the pick.

There might be one particular player the Knicks front office has in mind: Utah Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell.

New York recently announced it was hiring Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant to join the staff of new head coach Tom Thibodeau. Mitchell has a close relationship with Bryant, and perhaps the events of recent months could entice him to head to the Big Apple.

Much was made about Mitchell's displeasure with Jazz center Rudy Gobert in light of the latter's actions ahead of his positive test for COVID-19. The Athletic reported in April some sources felt the relationship between the two stars was "unsalvageable," potentially necessitating a trade somewhere down the line.

Granted, Mitchell and Gobert have moved past the incident and have even shown good chemistry, with the Jazz leading the Denver Nuggets 2-1 in their first-round series. However, there is no telling what is going on behind the scenes, and perhaps the Knicks could sway the Jazz with a strong offer.

Forbes' Adam Zagoria reported a "source with knowledge of the Knicks thinking" said the team wants Mitchell "badly" but is unsure about the fit with second-year guard RJ Barrett.

Indeed, Barrett and Mitchell are both ball-dominant players with varying shooting numbers from beyond the arc. Mitchell fared better than the rookie Barrett, shooting nearly 36 percent from deep compared to Barrett's 32 percent mark.

Mitchell also excels as a combo guard capable of making plays in pick-and-roll and setting up his teammates, and it is possible his presence might sway other stars to come to New York.

Perhaps the Knicks elect to keep the pick and hope one of the top players on their board is still around. Begley reported some members of the organization are high on Florida State wing Devin Vassell, a capable floor-spacer and slasher with strong defensive instincts.

The draft is not until October, but the work for the Knicks begins now as they assess their options and plan to build Thibodeau a foundation for the future.


All stats obtained via Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.