All offseason, it seemed like Donovan Mitchell was destined to become a Knick. He wanted to be in New York, and the Knicks needed a star player. It was as good as done. Until it wasn’t.
Yesterday it was reported that the Utah Jazz are trading Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a deal that included Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, Collin Sexton, and three unprotected first-round picks.
The Knicks were immediately criticized and fans were up in arms. Leon Rose’s daughter had to take to Instragam to offer her father words of support amidst the backlash. Here was a star who wanted to come to New York, and the team couldn’t make it happen. It was an egregious mistake. Only, maybe that wasn’t the whole story.
On Thursday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Knicks had made the Jazz a considerably better off than the one they eventually took from the Cavaliers.
At the start of trade talks in July, New York offered Utah a Donovan Mitchell package including RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Mitchell Robinson and three unprotected first-round picks, sources tell ESPN. Jazz turned down that offer and Robinson signed a $60M extension to stay w/ NY. https://t.co/3eDg2Mf7f1
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 2, 2022
According to Woj, New York offered the same amount of unprotected picks and also offered their three best young players in RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, and Mitchell Robinson. It’s a trade so large that it’s conceivable how Knicks fans would have complained that the team had given up too much if the Jazz had accepted it.
But the Jazz didn’t accept it.
New York then decided to sign Mitchell Robinson to an extension and then just announced an extension with RJ Barrett yesterday. After being rejected, they decided to double down on their own young talent.
At the end of the day, the roster is likely not one that’s good enough to truly compete in the Eastern Conference, but after Woj’s report, it’s also unfair to say that the team is not going for it. They made the big offer fans were looking for. They wanted to bring a star in.
But it takes two to tango, as they say, and the Jazz were not willing dance partners. Not that the reality of that will make Knicks fans any less angry about yesterday’s trade.