Donovan Mitchell’s Trade Rumors: Knicks, Heat, Nets Among Potential Jazz All-Star Guardian Targets


Donovan Mitchell's Trade Rumors: Knicks, Heat, Nets Among Potential Jazz All-Star Guardian Targets

Danny Ainge is a man of extremes. He’s either going all out to win a championship—like he was when he traded the entire Boston Celtics youth ranks for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the summer of 2007—or he’s totally out. When it became clear that the Celtics were no longer a viable championship contender, he traded Garnett and Paul Pierce for an entire future in one fell swoop.

That always made the idea of ​​the Utah Jazz keeping Donovan Mitchell a bit ridiculous after treating Rudy Gobert. Nothing about Ainge suggests he would be interested in pursuing the play-in tournament for a year or two before Mitchell himself finally forced his way into a contender of his choosing. Ainge is many things. Madness is not one of them. When it became clear that the Jazz in its previous construction would never win a championship, a full restart with trades from Mitchell and Gobert seemed inevitable.

This is how we construct possible Mitchell deals in the light of Adrian Wojnarowski’s Reporting on the availability of the All-Star Guard, we must do this through the lens of Ainge’s ambitions. This is not a man known for half measures. He won’t want to make a deal that keeps jazz reasonably competitive. The name of the game here is picks and upside. In a perfect world, Utah will attract assets that pay off across the board without jeopardizing its immediate efforts. Here are the five teams best positioned to give Jazz such a package.

You’ve probably already heard about the connections. Mitchell is represented by CAA. Knicks President Leon Rose once oversaw CAA’s basketball operations. Mitchell grew up in nearby Connecticut. His father worked for the New York Mets. The interest here is almost certainly mutual. The question is the price.

The Knicks can send as much draft capital to jazz as anyone. You have eight tradable first-round picks, including four of your own. In Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin and Quentin Grimes, they have a roster of interesting youngsters that Utah can give a shot at. But the line in the sand here is likely former No. 3 overall RJ Barrett. Because if the Knicks trade everything for Mitchell, they have little room for improvement. Mating Mitchell (25 years old) with Barrett (22) and Jalen Brunson (25) would give New York three young studs to grow around.

Would Barrett be a deal-breaker for Utah? Probably not, especially given the limitations faced by other applicants here. When the Knicks put seven or eight first-rounders on the table, nobody’s going to top that. Right now, they’re in the driver’s seat with or without a Barrett, and that probably sits well with Utah. He’s too good to fill up properly anyway.

Miami’s limited draft capital will make a Mitchell deal difficult. The Heat have no outside first-round picks and owe the Oklahoma City Thunder one of their own in 2025. It looks like they can send the Jazz two first-round picks, three swaps and 2022 first-round pick Nikola Jovic. If they get a little creative in the language of the picks, they could send the Jazz a third, but this strategy isn’t without its risks. The pick protections they owe the Thunder could delay their promotion until 2026, and if that’s the case, the Heat can only legally trade their 2028 pick after that, in accordance with some notable CBA rules.

The Stepien rule prevents teams from going without a first-round pick in back-to-back drafts. The “Seven Year Rule” prevents teams from trading picks more than seven years in advance. In other words, The Heat could offer their 2023, 2027, and 2029 picks for Mitchell on the condition that their 2025 pick goes to the Thunder, but if that lottery-protected pick for Donner is not submitted in 2025, it would the 2027 selection downgraded to 2028 and the 2029 selection would need to be converted to seconds since 2030 is more than seven years away.

However, Ainge’s longstanding interest in Herro works in Miami’s favor. He was reportedly keen on adding the No. 14 former Kentucky star in the 2019 draft, but Miami snagged him a spot early. If Ainge sees Herro as the cornerstone for a post-Mitchell roster, he will consider Miami’s offer.

A quick note worth noting: While Mitchell and Bam Adebayo are both on Designated Rookie Extensions, they can legally play on the same team because Miami Adebayo moved in. However, Mitchell cannot play on the same team as Ben Simmons, who also has a designated rookie deal but was traded to Brooklyn. Teams can have two designated rookie players as long as at least one of them is drafted by that team. Speaking of Brooklyn…

As we discussed, Simmons and Mitchell can’t both play for the Nets next season. So… what if Simmons was on a different team? Here’s the scenario: The Nets trade Kevin Durant for a team capable of providing them with both draft picks and high-ranking veterans (let’s say the Toronto Raptors due to their endless supply of wings). They then turn and flip Simmons elsewhere for draft picks, and as expected, they trade Kyrie Irving to the Lakers for even more draft capital. Suddenly, between three trades, the once-barren Nets have accumulated enough picks to move to Utah for Mitchell, and through Durant, they’ve also accumulated enough supporting talent around Mitchell to fight credibly (let’s say a combination by Pascal Siakam). , Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr. and Precious Achiuwa).

It’s not a direct competitor, but it’s not too shabby either, is it? It’s a start at least, a foundation built on a 25-year-old All-Star who seemingly wants to be in his town and a supporting cast transplanted from the NBA’s finest development infrastructure. Given how limited Brooklyn’s options seem right now, it could probably do a lot worse than starting over with Mitchell.

The real problem here is the mechanics of the deal. There are so many moving parts to consider. Is there an admirer willing to give up multiple first-rounders for Simmons? Minnesota was the obvious, but it just gave everything away for Gobert. Maybe Cleveland? And would Durant accept a trade with any destination other than his favorite Phoenix or Miami? Will the Lakers spit out a second first-rounder for Irving? So many things have to happen for Brooklyn to be viable. The path is there if the Nets want to take it, but it’s treacherous.

Let’s say Toronto isn’t too keen on trading for a 34-year-old Durant. Could Mitchell be a viable alternative? Toronto is so flush with defensive wings that protecting him on that end of the ground seems more than feasible. His one-on-one goal is just what they’ve been missing since Kawhi Leonard left, and his youth and three years of team control would give them a runway to build around him.

But the fundamental question here is the same as Toronto’s regarding Durant: Will the Raptors offer Scottie Barnes? The answer is probably no. Barnes is a possible future star. But Mitchell is a star at the moment, and unlike Durant, he’s likely to stay that way for quite a while. The Raptors might give up some advantages by taking the safe bet, but they’re getting rid of most of the risk of stalling Barnes’ development. If he grows into a consistent All-Star like Mitchell, his growth will be counted as an achievement.

The Raptors traded for a star who’d never wanted to be in Toronto before. Leonard’s loss likely puts Toronto out of contention. Unless Mitchell expresses a keen interest in joining the Raptors, Barnes is just too valuable to hope Mitchell is excited about being a Raptor and can lead you to a championship. Still, if they gave up Barnes for anything, a 25-year-old All-Star would probably be one of their first choices.

This is one of those ideas that makes more sense on paper than it does in reality. Mitchell is better than CJ McCollum. He’s also half a decade younger. New Orleans has up to six tradable first-round picks, and two of those could be valuable Lakers picks with high upside potential. If New Orleans were primarily interested in maximizing their title window, flipping McCollum for some assets and then going all-in on Mitchell would make a lot of sense.

But basketball isn’t played on paper. Teams just don’t trade for established stars only to purposely replace them six months later. McCollum was an indispensable voice in the dressing room last season. They just aren’t going to disband what was a feel-good team last season to hunt down a borderline All-NBA player who would represent only a modest improvement over his incumbent at his position. That’s not how basketball usually works. If so, the Pelicans would probably be courting Durant a bit more aggressively now.

So no, the pelicans are probably not in Mitchell. They happen to be one of the few teams with the assets to take him while remaining long-term contenders. Ultimately, the Pelicans will likely bet their chips on a third star alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. It probably won’t be Mitchell.

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