As rumors continue to swirl about a potential trade between the Knicks and the Utah Jazz involving All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, a new report suggests that head coach Tom Thibodeau would rather trade RJ Barrett than Quentin Grimes.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reported the coach’s interest in keeping Grimes, who came to the Knicks as the 25th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
That news comes after New York and Utah hit a stalemate, when the Knicks front office offered a package of Obi Toppin, Evan Fournier, additional salary and 2 unprotected 1st-round draft picks, according to NBA insider Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Utah rejected that offer, and reportedly demanded more assets from New York.
Now, Thibodeau’s rumored interest in retaining Grimes puts a new twist on those trade talks, as he the 22-year-old shooting guard was thought to be another piece the Knicks could offer to the Jazz.
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It’s not clear whether the Knicks front office, led by team president Leon Rose, shares Thibodeau affinity for Grimes, or whether they would trade Barrett, who is considered to be among the best young assets in the NBA.
It’s also not clear whether Utah is interested in acquiring Barrett, who is eligible for a new contract this offseason, and who would likely contribute immediately to the Jazz as they look to increase their draft positioning during a rebuilding period.
They have, however, expressed interest in acquiring Grimes, Charania reported.
Still, the coach reportedly believes that Grimes is better defensively and a superior three-point shooter to Barrett, and has made his beliefs known.
Barrett was the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and has become a fan-favorite at Madison Square Garden, and averaged 20 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3 assists last season. Grimes, meanwhile, averaged 6 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist in his rookie season last year.
Thibodeau won Coach of the Year honors in 2021 after the Knicks made a surprising run to the playoffs, though they ultimately lost in 5 games to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round. The team followed up that year with a disappointing 37–45 season, and missed out of postseason action.