Knicks and Donovan Mitchell pairing might not be dead: Report

Donovan Mitchell showed the Knicks what they were missing
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) drives during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)

There are few NBA teams who are in the headlines as much as the New York Knicks right now. Despite being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, the Knicks appear to be returning as a legitimate contender in the NBA and have been linked to most stars who could be looking to switch teams this offseason. 

Last summer, the Knicks were only linked to Donovan Mitchell, but it was a pairing that seemed so likely that, at one point, Mitchell even thought his trade to the Knicks was a done deal.

However, New York, Mitchell’s hometown team, allegedly balked at the asking price set by Danny Ainge and the Utah Jazz, and then Utah opted to move Mitchell to Cleveland instead.

It appears that, even after all of that, the Knicks are not closing the door on possibly acquiring Donovan Mitchell in the future, according to New York Post’s Peter Botte.

“While the Knicks will search elsewhere via the trade market this summer to augment their roster in hopes of taking the next step toward title contention, Mitchell’s status will continue to bear watching over the next two years due to his ongoing flirtation with his hometown team,” Botte wrote.

That ongoing flirtation seemed to continue after the Knicks eliminated the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs this year. When discussing that series a few days after it concluded, Mitchell mentioned how blown away he was by the crowd atmosphere in Madison Square Garden for Game 3. 

“I was like, ‘Damn this sh%t is jumping.’ Like, I was geeked,” he said. 

So could Mitchell’s dream to play for his hometown Knicks still be alive?

According to Botte, it is, but just not for next season. 

“The Knicks will look elsewhere for a roster upgrade this summer,” Botte added, “but revisiting a pursuit of Mitchell is something to keep an eye on in the near future.” 

The Cavaliers star has three years left on his contract in Cleveland but only one of those is guaranteed after next season, then he has a $37 million player option for the 2025-26 season. With the Cavaliers facing a lot of pressure to contend after another early playoff exit, the team could be open to moving him before the final year of his contract and opt to build around the younger core of players like Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley, who are all three or more years younger than Mitchell.

Mitchell was tremendous for Cleveland in 2022-23 and finished sixth in the MVP voting. He posted a career-high 28.3 points per game on a career-high 48.4% shooting and 57.3% effective field goal percentage. He also tied his career high with a 38.6% three-point field goal percentage and had the lowest turnover rate (2.6) of his career. 

Cleveland is clearly not moving him this summer, and that could be okay for the Knicks.

While New York has been linked to most all-stars this offseason, this is not a team that is just one player away from winning an NBA title. Adding Chris Paul or Kristaps Porzingis or Karl Anthony Towns doesn’t make the Knicks a favorite, especially if it means losing talented players like Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, and/or RJ Barrett. 

If the Knicks take this year to re-sign Josh Hart, extend Quickley, and build around the young core, then making a move for Mitchell next summer rather than extending Quentin Grimes could make more sense. That gives them another year to get development out of Quickley and Barrett and see if they can find any takers for Obi Toppin and Julius Randle to feel up cap space or add shooting. 

Adding Mitchell to that version of the Knicks and letting him and Brunson form a dynamic backcourt pairing might make more sense than chasing former all-stars this summer. 

However, for now, it remains a dream for the future. 

For more Knicks coverage, visit amNY Sports

Knicks Quentin Grimes challenges a Donovan Mitchell shot
Cleveland Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots against New York Knicks’ Quentin Grimes (6) and Mitchell Robinson (23) during the first half of Game 3 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Friday, April 21, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)