Last week, Stefan Bondy (NY Post) wrote, “The Knicks are monitoring three targets, in particular, a source said: Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell.”
I cringe at the idea of writing another hundred posts about Donovan Mitchell.
There is no denying that the 27-year-old All Star is talented. Indeed, Spida has roots in New York, his mentor Johnnie Bryant is the associate head coach, he has strong backers in the Knicks’ front office (reportedly), and he would love a shorter drive to Citi Field. Nevertheless, isn’t it time for the Knicks to stop pining for Mitchell?
First, let’s not assume he wants to leave. Although Donovan has not extended with Cleveland yet, he explained on Cavs Media Day that he can do so next summer. The delay should not suggest a lack of faith in the team. He stressed his belief in Cleveland’s potential to achieve something special, and he didn’t mean cleaning up downtown (have you visited?).
While Mitchell has not committed to a long-term extension, he has said all the right things. And he should be encouraged that the Cavs spent the summer trying to address the issues that led to a first-round playoff loss to New York. Notably, they signed Georges Niang and Max Strus, which added more shooting to their squad.
Although Mitchell could still make a trade request during the season, a swap next summer would be more likely. And as we saw with the Damian Lillard saga, players cannot always dictate where they go. Hell, Mitchell seemed happily destined to join the Knicks before Cleveland swooped in.
Second, will the Cavs want what New York has to offer? Their team is focused on winning now with Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. New York’s wheelbarrow full of future picks will not expedite their plan. So, which of New York’s young players would fill a specific need for Cleveland? They could ask for Quentin Grimes or Immanuel Quickley in return, to run alongside Garland. Would you surrender either one (or both) to net an All-NBA player?
Third, consider whether trading for Mitchell makes sense for the Knicks. The primary question is: Could the Knicks win a championship with a starting lineup of Brunson, Mitchell, Barrett, Randle, and Robinson? That hypothetical team feels one star short but would be out of assets to make another blockbuster trade. They would have to focus on free agents. How is the market looking?
Here’s a ghost pepper take: Jalen Brunson and Mitchell Robinson will be All-Stars this year. Robinson is about to have the season of his life—and so we have our center. Besides, Minnesota and Philadelphia want to win. They are in no rush to deal KAT and Embiid, both of whom would be misused by Thibs anyway. (KAT’s been there, done that; Embiid has voiced opposition to playing for the coach.) Unless their teams implode, just forget about Karl and Joel.
And forget about acquiring Donovan, at least not in a two-team trade. There would be little point anyway, if the swap won’t significantly increase either team’s chances of winning a chip.
Isn’t it time for the Knicks to set their sights elsewhere? Hash it out below.