The New York Knicks are hot after Donovan Mitchell, but they have to be careful not to end up bidding against themselves in trade talks with the Utah Jazz. We know Danny Ainge has a history of asking for, and often getting, the world, and indeed, Ainge recently asked the Knicks for a king’s ransom in exchange for Mitchell.
According to Tony Jones of The Athletic, Utah offered Mitchell to New York for six future first-round draft picks plus Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin and Miles McBride, but the Knicks “backed away” from that proposal.
New York was smart to do that. Utah wants picks and rookie-scale players over win-now players (one player in line for a big payday, such as R.J. Barrett) so it can go into tank mode and create financial flexibility through a rebuild, and there isn’t another realistic Mitchell suitor that can offer the six picks Utah asked for. New York can offer up to eight, but again, it only needs to dangle as many picks as is required to outbid the next-closest team.
Miami, for instance, can only offer two future picks (three if it drops the protections on the 2025 pick it owes OKC or gets creative with the “next allowable” language in accordance with the Stepien Rule, which dictates that a team can’t go consecutive seasons without a first-round pick).
The Pelicans could offer six picks if they wanted to mortgage their entire future on Mitchell, but with CJ McCollum on board, Mitchell feels redundant. The Thunder and Rockets, both loaded with draft capital, are still in the development phase. So the Knicks have the most to offer in the way of draft capital, and they’re not going to let Ainge rip them off. They’ll give one more pick than the next team in line. Maybe that’s five picks or four with all those young players. But it’s not six. At least not at this early stage of the discussions.