It was bound to happen as soon as the Knicks hired Utah Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant, but the Donovan Mitchell rumors have already begun in earnest.
Forbes contributor Adam Zagoria reported Tuesday that the Knicks are want Mitchell badly...but with a twist!
“They want him badly but may be a possible conflict with R.J. [Barrett],” a source with knowledge of the Knicks thinking said of Mitchell. “There’s a debate in the front office if they can play together.”
Well of course they’d like Mitchell, who scored the second-most points in a playoff game in NBA history on Monday, dropping 57 in a loss to the Nuggets. But the possible conflict with RJ Barrett is a strange addendum to this story. Would they struggle to play together because both guys need the ball in their hands?
If you choose to read between the line here, this could be the front office signally oh-so-quietly that they are willing to include Barrett in a trade for Mitchell. They’d pretty much have to include Barrett, perhaps the best trade asset currently on the roster, in any deal for Spida.
The Knicks now employ two key figures in Mitchell’s development with the Jazz: Walt Perrin, who scouted Mitchell and convinced Utah to trade for his rights, and Bryant, whom Mitchell credits with turning him into an All-Star. Mitchell said goodbye to Bryant (though they will still work together until the end of the playoffs) in an Instagram post.
In theory, the Knicks make a ton of sense for the New York native, and there have been plenty of rumblings that Mitchell would love to come home. His relationship with Jazz fans isn’t the best, especially since several of them objected strongly to his Juneteenth IG post. One of the fun parts of watching of Spida play is just imagining him auditioning for the orange and blue.
Of course, the NBA doesn’t work that way. The Jazz still control Mitchell’s rights, and can offer him a five-year max deal. Even if Mitchell rejected that deal and took the qualifying offer (which max players almost never do), the Jazz don’t have to trade him to the Knicks.
Whatever. I’m still having fun making Spida-to-the-Knicks jokes on Twitter. Jazz fans are super uptight about him leaving, and they go nuts in my mentions. Donovan Mitchell will almost certainly never be a Knick — in his prime, at least — but we can still get these jokes off.