There have been three different stories/developments on the Donovan Mitchell front which have popped up at different points and places around the internet on Tuesday, July 19, so let’s go one by one.
Jake Fischer (Bleacher Report): NYK confident of not having to include RJ Barrett in Mitchell’s deal
Fisher, from BR.com, reported earlier today that “Knicks personnel have projected confidence,” according to the outlet’s sources, “that they will be able to land Mitchell without sacrificing RJ Barrett.” That’s something that had been rumored last week but now seems to be strongly confirmed by sources close to the negotiations, or at least with intel regarding the Knicks front office and their plotted operations in order to acquire the Jazz guard.
The idea about this “confidence” has more to do with Utah’s unwillingness to risk handing Barret an extension, as Fischer also included in his column. Fischer wrote that “Utah isn’t enamored by becoming the franchise that coughs up a sizable extension to Barrett.” This feeling arises from the fact that RJ Barrett is entering the final year of his deal but still waiting for New York to offer him an extension (it’ll eventually come) that could be near the maximum amount of money he could receive at this point.
New York Knicks beat writer Fred Katz, of The Athletic, already touched on this topic a few weeks ago discussing Barrett’s potential extension and how much the wing could/should expect to get with some anonymous NBA executives. The consensus: Barrett will get something in the ballpark of $25 million a year once he puts pen to paper.
Jake Fischer (Bleacher Report): Heat have prioritized pursuing Kevin Durant over Mitchell
You can only control the things you can control. That’s why I’m leaving this bit of information included in Fischer’s column for the second entry of this list, well, prioritizing the one about RJ Barrett’s possible inclusion (or not) in the trade package sent to Utah for Donovan Mitchell if the transaction ultimately comes to happen.
In the same column as the one introduced above, Fischer claims that “the Miami Heat remain focused on acquiring [one of All-Stars Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell],” while reporting that “multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told B/R that Miami has prioritized pursuing Durant over Mitchell.”
Durant included Miami (along with Phoenix) as one of the two franchises he’d like to get traded to if Brooklyn decides to truly move on from him this offseason, so the Heat would be erring on the “safer” option here chasing durant instead of risking and chasing a trade that might not happen at all if New York—which can undoubtedly offer many more and better assets than Miami—starts seriously calling Danny Ainge to close a deal.
Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN): Any potential deal is going to take some time
Our beloved Woj appeared live on ESPN’S NBA Today and didn’t complicate things just one bit. “Utah talked with the Knicks early last week,” he started, “and exchanged some ideas of what a potential Donovan Mitchell deal with New York might look like.”
“I think now Utah is out talking to the rest of the league, seeing what else might be available to them,” and most importantly, Woj added the key piece of his short report saying that “I do think [Utah] will reconnect with the Knicks at some point in this offseason [...] but you saw what they got from Rudy Gobert [...] and I think that will be the posture here again with Utah.”
As far as I know—and I might have missed something—Woj has been one of the lone media reporters out there not entering this whole discussion about the Knicks front office getting pushed to complete a deal if their members want to avoid getting fired. Just in case, he made it clear by stating that “New York doesn’t want to just bid against itself by offering more and more without a sense there’s somebody else in the marketplace doing that.”
Woj’s conclusion after sharing all of that information: “I think any potential Donovan Mitchell deal is going to take some time.” And we agree.
Marc Stein & Tony Jones (Substack & The Athletic): I think it takes at least five first-round picks to get a trade done
Finally, The Athletic Tony Jones joined Marc Stein over the Stein Line Live right after the conclusion of the Summer League and discussed all things Donovan Mitchell.
Stein opened the conversation by saying that “I’m still of the belief it’s going to happen, I just think the Knicks have too close to the dream package Danny Ainge wants.” That said, he offered Jones the floor to share his two cents, and Jones did. “I think the deal eventually gets done. I think the Knicks have so much to lose for that [not] to get done. I think the Jazz have a [clear direction] that they want to go next year because of the 2023 draft for this not to get done.” I don’t like the childish the Knicks have so much to lose narrative, but alas. Outsiders probably know more than... me... just another outsider? Huh? Hmmm... Moving on.
Discussing the position both franchises are currently sitting at, Jones said that “I think both sides are kind of trying to figure out a medium that they can come to, but I think eventually a deal gets done.” Also: “I don’t know where the deal will happen [...] but I think at some point before the training camp this deal gets finished.”
All of that is great, but not entirely new other than the fact that it reinforces the idea that both New York and Utah are inching closer by the day to finalizing what has always felt like an inevitable trade.
It took no time for Jones to expand on sharing more of the intel he possesses from sources that have contacted The Athletic. “The Jazz were trying to tinker with a different direction before they came to the conclusion that they would listen to offers from Donovan Mitchell.” The Jazz position now, as stated by Jones, is one in which “if the Knicks don’t step up and come to the table with a package that Danny Ainge likes, the Jazz are not afraid to take Mitchell into the season on the Jazz roster with them.” Welp.
“This is not giving away Mitchell. If anybody is going to trade for Mitchell successfully, it is going to be because they come to the table with a package that Danny Ainge is 100% comfortable with accepting,” said Jones. Pushing him a bit for new information, Stein told Jones that “my intel is that the Knicks are trying to do this only surrendering four or five first-round picks” adding that “someone I trust told me today that they [the mysterious someone] thought Danny Ainge was going for seven or eight firsts.”
Of course, Jones reacted to the “how many picks do you think it takes to get the deal done?” asked by Stein by answering that “I think it’s at least five, maybe it gets done with four, but no less than four, certainly.” Jones acknowledged that “the Knicks have a lot of young guys” but also made it clear that he thinks that “none of those young guys that can possibly go back to the Jazz are going to be Donovan Mitchell at any point in their careers.” Jones basically doesn’t see any of the Knicks Kidz blossoming into legit players “with a greater playoff ceiling than Donovan Mitchell has”.
After that, Jones said that his idea of an appealing deal for Utah is one based on the idea of Utah’s “best chance of finding another Donovan Mitchel.” Jones thinks that “the best way for Utah to find that is in the draft or out of this deal with [traded draft] capital.”
So there you have it. Miami wants Durant. Utah wants picks in bunches. New York wants to retain RJ Barrett. And Woj... well, he’s just holding onto that saved-for-later tweet announcing an already-agreed deal between Utah and New York that, for now at least, only he knows about.