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Will the Hawks facilitate a Donovan Mitchell trade to the Knicks?

Dejounte Murray goes to Cleveland, DoMi goes to New York on a flight with a stopover in Atlanta.

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Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

What if I tell you the New York Knicks might make a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers... involving Donovan Mitchell... without acquiring the Elmsford, NY native from The Land... but rather as a fresh member of the Atlanta Hawks!?

Call it crazy and call that wild, but don’t rule the possibility entirely if the latest whispers around the league and with less than a month for the trade deadline are to be believed.

NBA Insider Marc Stein posted a new entry in his Substack on Wednesday, Dec. 10, touching on the Cleveland Cavaliers and their superstar point guard. First things first, Stein made clear the Cavs “continue to send signals that they have no interest in fielding trade offers for Donovan Mitchell,” writing the franchise has “Zero interest” in moving him.

That said, Stein followed that statement with an interesting one writing “Pessimism persists about Cleveland’s chances of signing [Mitchell] to a long-term contract extension.”

If you ask me, I am very intrigued by a word hiding in plain sight amid all of those written by Stein: “fielding.”

And if you’re wondering why, that’s because after Stein dropped his intel on Wednesday, Matt Moore of The Action Network did the same sharing a few nuggets himself that also discussed the Cavs mindset as we approach the trade deadline.

“One league executive suggested keeping an eye on the Cavaliers in Dejounte Murray talks if the Cavs decide they have to move Donovan Mitchell before the final year of his contract,” Moore reported indicating the quoted executive was speculating.

The thing here is that Cleveland wouldn’t be fielding a trade offer made by the Hawks in this scenario, but rather offering Mitchell to Atlanta in exchange for Murray. And once Mitchell is not a member of the Cavs anymore, the Knicks might have it easier to try and acquire him (by way of Atlanta in this scenario).

With Trae Young in tow, adding Donovan Mitchell would be an awful fit for both guards when it comes to sharing the backcourt for the Hawks. It’d make sense for Atlanta to re-route Mitchell elsewhere, whether that’s New York or Miami. Yes, Miami.

Stein reported on Wednesday that the Heat, “league sources say, continue to have bona fide interest in Mitchell despite Cleveland’s don’t-even-call-us approach.”

New York would need to send Atlanta a hefty offer to trump that of Miami, but if there is a chance to land Mitchell—even more after they actively engaged in negotiations to acquire him less than two years ago, showing a clear interest in the player—you bet Leon Rose & Co. will go the distance this time, one would assume.

Moore also seemed to confirm the Knicks interest in Murray after trading for OG Anunoby reported elsewhere, writing that the Hawks’ guard “fits the archetype of the kind of two-way player the Knicks want as a star,” and not ruling a trade out simply because of the fabricated beef between the CAA and Klutch player agencies.

[If you want a really bonkers rumor about Murray, here you have it: Shams Charania appeared on Fanduel TV’s Run It Back last Tuesday and revealed Dejounte’s former team the San Antonio Spurs have “a level of exploratory interest” in the player. Uh, oh, Pop!]

On a final note, and in case the mammoth (and fairly improbable) three-team deal that would bring DoMi home, Moore revealed another interesting nugget, writing “the Bulls, Rockets and Knicks have expressed interest in AJ Griffin, who has fallen out of the rotation under [Hawks head coach] Quin Snyder this season.”

Griffin is far from a superstar, but trading for him would align with the “keep-building-toward-the-final-move” approach that the front office of New York might actually be intesretd in completing before going all-in for an elite player next July and ahead of the 2024-25 season.

Other players of the same ilk—Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton, Malcolm Brogdon, Daniel Gafford, Tyus Jones, and Alec Burcs—have been floated in the rumor mill of late as potential mid-moves to make by the Knicks trying to keep building a package to flip for a superstar later this year once the season is over.

One things is clear and it’s that we are going to navigate three very anxiety-inducing weeks, folks. Get ready for plenty of rumors and (hopefully many, realistically just a few) fireworks!