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Rick Pitino praises former player Donovan Mitchell, hails possible Knicks trade

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Rick Pitino (left) praised a possible trade that would send his former collegiate star, Donovan Mitchell (right) to the Knicks.
Rick Pitino (left) praised a possible trade that would send his former collegiate star, Donovan Mitchell (right) to the Knicks.
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Rick Pitino, who coached the Knicks, along with the University of Louisville, praised a possible trade that would send his former collegiate star to his former NBA team. 

Rumors have swirled for months about a potential trade between New York and the Utah Jazz that would bring Mitchell to Madison Square Garden — and his former coach 

“Donovan would treasure being a Knick,” Pitino said, according to the New York Post. “I’m hoping, keeping my fingers crossed, that he becomes a Knick.”

“It would be very special for me as a coach seeing him in a Knick uniform as an ex-Knick coach.”

Mitchell played for Louisville for 2 seasons between 2015 and 2017, when Pitino served as the team’s skipper. That came years after his stint as the Knicks coach between 1987 and 1989. 

Most recently, Pitino has coached the Iona University men’s basketball team. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, entered the NBA in 2017 as a first-round draft pick to the Utah Jazz, where he has spent the last 5 seasons, and has been named to 3 NBA All-Star games. 

As the Jazz enter a re-building process, they have reportedly sought trades for Mitchell, coming on the heels of their trade that sent fellow All-Star Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves in exchange for a package of draft picks.  

The Knicks have been linked to Mitchell, though the Jazz reportedly rejected their most recent offer of Obi Toppin, Evan Fournier, additional salaries, and a pair of picks. 

Utah is instead demanding additional assets, including young players like Quinten Grimes and additional draft capital (the Knicks have 9 first-round picks over the next 5 years). 

For more coverage of Rick Pitino and Donovan Mitchell, head to amNY.com.

Mitchell is from New York, where his family still lives. His father, who previously played baseball in the minor leagues, now works for the Mets as their director of player relations. 

“Donovan loves being around his mom, sister and dad,” said Pitino during a conference call for Iona State. 

“We all know Donovan is very talented on offense, but Donovan is as talented as polished a human being as any person I’ve ever met,’’ the coach said, while assuring listeners that Mitchell would deal well under the bright lights of the Big Apple. “He’s highly, highly competitive. He’ll do anything to win a basketball game. But when the game is over and the mikes are all in his face, you have to deal with the media in a positive way. Donovan will be outstanding in that, just terrific at that.’’

Bringing Mitchell to New York would pair him with newly-signed point guard Jalen Brunson, and create one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA. 

“It would be great for the Knicks and everybody who follows the Knicks,” Pitino said. 

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