Donovan Mitchell trade rumors: Knicks, Heat, Nets among potential destinations for Jazz All-Star quarterback

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Danny Ainge is a man of extremes. Either he’s betting on winning the championship—as he did when he traded all of the Boston Celtics youth for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the summer of 2007—or he’s retired entirely. When it became clear that the Celtics were no longer a real contender for the championship, he traded Garnett and Paul Pierce for a whole future in one fell swoop.

This has always made the idea that the Utah Jazz could keep Donovan Mitchell after the Rudy Gobert deal somewhat ludicrous. Nothing about Ainge suggests he’ll be interested in playing in a play-in tournament for a year or two before Mitchell himself eventually works his way into an opponent of his choice. Ainge is a lot of things. Delusional is not one of them. Once it became clear that the Jazz, in their previous design, would never win a championship, a full blown reboot involving Mitchell and Gobert became inevitable.

So, as we build opportunities with Mitchell in the light of Adrian Wojnarowski All-Star Guard availability report, we must do this through the lens of Ainge’s ambition. This is not a man known for half-measures. He won’t want to make a deal that will keep the Jazz competitive. The name of the game here is choice and growth. In an ideal world, Utah would have assets that would pay off in the future without threatening its immediate downfall efforts. Here are five teams that are best suited to give the Jazz such a package.

You have probably already heard about connections. Mitchell is represented by the CAA. Knicks president Leon Rose once ran the 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 the Jazz as anyone else. They have eight options to trade in the first round, including four of their own. In Immanuel Quickly, Obie Toppin and Quentin Grimes, they have a bunch of interesting young people that Utah can take a chance on. But the line in the sand here is probably former No. 3 overall R. J. Barrett. After all, if the Knicks gave everything for Mitchell, they would have little room for improvement. Teaming Mitchell (25) with Barrett (22) and Jalen Brunson (25) would give New York three young stallions to grow up around.

Will Barrett break the deal for Utah? Probably not, especially in light of the restrictions other suitors face here. If the Knicks put seven or eight first-round players on the table, no one else will top them. Right now, they’re driving with or without Barrett, which probably suits Utah just fine. Either way, he’s too good to tank properly.

Miami’s limited project capital will make Mitchell’s trade difficult. The Heat have no first-round outside picks and owe one to the 2025 Oklahoma City Thunder. They can currently send the Jazz two first round picks, three trades and a 2022 first round pick of Nikola Jovic. If they get a little creative with picking, they could send the Jazz a third, but this strategy isn’t without risks. Protecting the pick they owe to the Thunder could delay its transfer until 2026, and if that happens, the Heat will only be able to legally trade their 2028 pick thereafter, subject to a few noteworthy CBA rules.

Stepien’s rule prevents teams from being left unselected in the first round of consecutive drafts. The “Seven Year Rule” prohibits teams from trading picks after more than seven years. In other words: The Heat can offer their 2023, 2027, and 2029 Mitchell pick on the condition that their 2025 pick passes to the Thunder, but if that Thunder’s lottery-protected pick isn’t handed over in 2025, the pick 2027 will be returned back. 2028 and 2029 must be converted to seconds because 2030 is over seven years away.

However, working for Miami is Ainge’s longtime interest in Erro. He was reportedly very interested in adding the former Kentucky star with the 14th overall pick in the 2019 draft, but Miami snatched him one slot early. If Ainge sees Erro as the cornerstone of a post-Mitchell roster, he’ll consider Miami’s offer.

A small note worth mentioning: Even though Mitchell and Bam Adebayo are in the Designated Rookie expansion, they can legally play on the same team because Miami chose Adebayo. However, Mitchell cannot play on the same team as Ben Simmons, who also has a Rookie Designation contract but was traded to Brooklyn. Teams may have two rookie players nominated, provided that at least one of them has been selected by the respective team. Speaking of Brooklyn…

As we said, Simmons and Mitchell can’t play for the Nets at the same time next season. So… what if Simmons was on the other team? Here’s the scenario: The Nets trade Kevin Durant for a team that can provide them with both draft picks and high-level veterans (say, the Toronto Raptors because of their endless supply of wings). They then move Simmons elsewhere for a draft pick and, as expected, trade Kyrie Irving to the Lakers for more draft capital. Suddenly, between three trades, the once-barren Nets have amassed enough picks to move to Utah for Mitchell, and thanks to Durant, they have also amassed enough support talent around Mitchell to be credible in the near future (let’s say some combination of Pascal Siakam) . , Fred VanVleet, O. G. Anunobi, Gary Trent Jr. and Precious Achiuva).

It’s not a direct contender, but it’s not too bad either, right? At least it’s a start, a foundation built on a 25-year-old All-Star who looks like he wants to be in his city, and on a support roster transplanted from the NBA’s best development infrastructure. Considering how limited Brooklyn’s options are at the moment, this could probably turn out to be a lot worse than starting over with Mitchell.

The real snag here is in the mechanics of the deal. There are so many moving parts to consider. Is there a fan willing to give up the first few rounds for Simmons? Minnesota was obvious, but she just gave everything for Gobert. Maybe Cleveland? And would Duran agree to a trade in any direction other than his preferred Phoenix or Miami? Can the Lakers find a second opener for Irving? So many things have to happen for Brooklyn to be viable. There is a path if the Nets want to go through it, but it is dangerous.

Let’s say Toronto isn’t particularly keen on a trade for the 34-year-old Durant. Could Mitchell be a viable alternative? Toronto is so saturated with defensive flanks that it seems more than doable to defend him at this end of the court. His one-on-one scoring is exactly what they’ve been missing since Kawhi Leonard left, and his youth and three years of command control left would give them the ability to build a runway around him.

But the underlying question here is the same one that Toronto had for Durant: Will the Raptors offer Scotty Barnes? Probably not. Barnes is a possible future star. But Mitchell is a star right now, and unlike Durant, he’s likely to stay that way for quite some time. The Raptors may give up some of the edge by taking the sure thing, but they get rid of much of the risk of Barnes’ development stagnation. If he grows into a consistent All-Star like Mitchell, his growth will be considered a success.

The Raptors traded for a star who once didn’t want to be in Toronto. Losing Leonard will likely scare Toronto out of the race. Unless Mitchell expresses serious interest in joining the Raptors, Barnes is simply too valuable to hope that Mitchell is excited about being a Raptors and can lead you to a championship. However, if they were going to drop Barnes for anything, the 25-year-old All-Star would probably be one of their first picks.

This is one of those ideas that makes more sense on paper than in reality. Mitchell is better than CJ McCollum. He is also half a decade younger. New Orleans has up to six options to trade in the first round, and two of them could be valuable and promising options for the Lakers. If New Orleans were primarily concerned with maximizing their title window, it would make sense to sell some assets to McCollum and then go all-in on Mitchell.

But basketball is not played on paper. Teams simply don’t trade established stars only to deliberately replace them six months later. McCollum was an important voice in the locker room last season. They’re just not going to ruin what was a good team last season to go after an All-NBA borderline player who represents only a modest improvement from their current position. Basketball doesn’t usually do that. If that were the case, the Pelicans would probably court Durant more aggressively now.

So no, the Pelicans are probably not interested in Mitchell. They just happen to be one of the few teams that have the assets to get him while still being long-term contenders. After all, the Pelicans are probably going to put their chips into a third star alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. It just probably won’t be Mitchell.

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