Donovan Mitchell’s future with the Utah Jazz has been a league-wide focal point since it was reported earlier this week that the team was listening to offers for the All-Star guard. In recent days, chatter from the Jazz and league sources has grown louder. Here are the latest rumors, reports and intel:
New York Knicks’ interest
• The Jazz and Knicks had significant conversations about a Mitchell trade on Tuesday, according to multiple Tribune sources and as first reported by The Athletic. It was these conversations that triggered the ESPN report that the Jazz were now listening to offers on Mitchell. Those conversations were constructive enough that some thought a deal might be completed Tuesday night or Wednesday, but obviously, there was no final agreement.
• In those conversations and prior ones, according to a source, the Jazz asked for a huge, essentially unprecedented return for Mitchell. The Knicks can trade a maximum of eight first-round picks outright — the Jazz want a majority of those picks. They also asked for pick swaps down the road. Finally, they also asked for some combination of youngsters Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Miles McBride, and Cam Reddish. Grimes is perhaps the lead target among those players for Utah.
• R.J. Barrett, the third pick of the 2019 NBA draft, was considered more valuable to the Knicks than the Jazz, and so wasn’t included in the most recent conversation, multiple sources told The Tribune.
• The Knicks, though, didn’t want to give up that many of their future picks and young pieces. There was, though, a significant counter-offer from the Knicks that included a smaller number of those pieces.
• In order to complete a trade, the Jazz would need to acquire a larger salary back from the Knicks as well. Julius Randle, though, would likely not be that piece — Evan Fournier or Derrick Rose are more likely, a source said.
• While no timeline has been set from either side on a deal, most expect a resolution where the Jazz and Knicks simply agree to terms on an offer somewhere in between the current two asking prices in a matter of hours, days or weeks — whenever one side has reason to budge.
Miami Heat rumors
• However, the Knicks are not the only team interested in Mitchell. The Miami Heat have been interested in both Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell over recent weeks.
• But their stable of young pieces and picks simply isn’t as attractive as New York’s. The Heat have traded their 2025 first-round pick away, meaning that they can only offer their 2023 pick, their 2027 pick, and their 2029 pick, along with pick swaps in the other years. The Heat also have a deficit of young players compared to New York. 22-year-old Tyler Herro is a good piece, but Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, and Omer Yurtseven are older and on shorter contracts than their key Knicks’ counterparts.
• The Heat made an offer weeks ago for Mitchell that included nearly all of those pieces, but the Jazz found it insufficient. At that time, sources tell the Tribune, the Jazz and Heat agreed that a third team that might be necessary in the trade in order to bring more value to the Jazz — likely meaning that the Heat would have to send veteran pieces elsewhere to get younger player or pick value in return.
• The Heat have been doing this, in hopes of acquiring either Durant or Mitchell. Overall, though, it seems less likely than the New York option.
• At least one voice in the Jazz’s front office prefers Herro as a return to Barrett, according to a source. Why? Consider their Basketball Reference projections for next season:
Essentially, Herro’s likelihood of being a cheaper contract moving forward and his more advanced shooting stroke are reasons for optimism. Barrett, to be sure, is longer, younger, and has much more defensive potential, though. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer conducted a poll of “over two dozen” front office executives at summer league in Las Vegas, who reported they believe Barrett has greater trade value than Herro by a “wide margin.”
• Jokes have been written about party-happy Herro in Utah, but a source with knowledge of Herro’s thinking says he’s more optimistic about the potential marriage — especially one in which he’d play a greater role than in Miami.
The Brooklyn Nets in play?
• Another possibility that has been considered: Mitchell ending up in New York City — but for the Brooklyn Nets, rather than for the Knicks. In this circumstance, the Nets would trade Kevin Durant to a third team, likely Phoenix, and use the capital they get back to acquire Mitchell. Nets owner Joe Tsai is said to want to maintain a competitive roster in Brooklyn despite trading Durant, and Mitchell would be a logical starting point.
• However, huge roadblocks exist to the idea. The first is that the Nets, under a CBA rule, cannot hold Mitchell’s and Ben Simmons designated rookie extensions at the same time, since both were acquired in trade. The Nets would have to move Simmons to either the Jazz or another team.
• Second, the Suns would have to send out enough salary to balance out Durant’s $44 million contract — and Mikal Bridges’ $20 million isn’t enough. Center DeAndre Ayton, who might have been useful as both salary ballast and return, just signed a maximum extension offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers. The Suns, if they match, could not trade Ayton without his permission for one year.
• Multiple other teams made inquiries into Mitchell’s availability after the Rudy Gobert deal, but the Jazz found that many of those offers weren’t especially close to their asking price.
• Overall, the Jazz are going into conversations with the goal of getting as many future assets, in both player and pick form, as possible. They are doing so without much care for their win total during the 2022-23 season: just as they did in the Gobert trade, they’re prioritizing future picks over win-now players.
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