The Jazz and Knicks have begun discussions on a potential trade to send three-time NBA All-Star Donovan Mitchell to New York, sources tell The Athletic.
The Jazz are having conversations with multiple teams on a Mitchell deal, but the Knicks have emerged as the focused destination over the past several days, sources said. Both sides have discussed a deal framework in the past 24 hours, those sources said.
The Knicks possess eight future first-round picks — four of their own and four acquired via trades — to use in a package. New York also has stockpiled young players, such as Quentin Grimes who is believed to be of interest to Utah, sources said.
The Jazz, who saw their NBA title window close this past season with a loss in six games to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, are focused on obtaining draft picks and younger players who are on rookie-scale deals. Sources say the Jazz have made all of their veteran players available in trade talks, and there are no untouchable players currently on the roster. Guards Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley and Jordan Clarkson have been pursued by teams across the league in recent weeks.
After the blockbuster Rudy Gobert trade to Minnesota that saw four-rounders sent to Utah, the Jazz have up to 11 first-round draft picks through 2029 and appear primed to acquire even more in a Mitchell deal to jump-start a full rebuild in a new era under CEO Danny Ainge and head coach Will Hardy. It appears that draft compensation is a goal in a potential deal.
“You’re over the tax, no draft picks, and our team loses in the first round,” Ainge said on Saturday. “It wasn’t fun for us. We want it to be fun for our fans and our players, but we just haven’t had much flexibility to do anything over the last little while.”
Miami has also expressed interest in Mitchell but has only two first-rounders able to be traded and a potential centerpiece in Tyler Herro, who is extension-eligible. Because of this, the Heat would likely have to engage a third team in a trade to supply the Jazz with the draft compensation needed for them to feel motivated enough to trade Mitchell.
Mainly because of draft night movements, the Knicks don’t have that issue. They have the draft capital and the young players needed to engage the Jazz in trade conversation. New York is motivated to give the Jazz a significant package. But the Knicks are wary, sources say, of giving away the proverbial store to the Jazz. They would like to come away from a potential deal with the front-end talent and the depth needed to be a factor within the Eastern Conference.
For the Knicks, there’s incredible interest in a talent and a leader such as Mitchell, who has the qualities to become the face of the franchise and a star in New York City. Mitchell was born in Elmsford, N.Y., and often spends his offseason time around the NYC area. Three of the NBA’s bright stars have been speculated as targets for the Knicks since president of basketball operations Leon Rose took over: Mitchell, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Phoenix’s Devin Booker.
Now the Knicks are set to make the pursuit of Mitchell in earnest. He would be the most recognizable homegrown star the Knicks have had since Stephon Marbury, who was raised in Coney Island, came from a long family lineage of star players, and won a city title at Madison Square Garden in high school.
Utah had long expressed a desire to keep Mitchell to try to build around him. Utah’s bar for trading Mitchell is high, and, according to league sources, indeed the asking price in initial discussions has been substantial.
(Photo of Donovan Mitchell: Sarah Stier / Getty Images)