Monday, February 26

Donovan Mitchell trade rumors: Jazz’s Danny Ainge wants Knicks to remove draft-pick protections, per report

The New York Knicks’ interest in Donovan Mitchell is well chronicled. Utah is open to trading Mitchell, but Danny Ainge, who basically comes to these negotiations in a ski mask, is asking for the world. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that New York offered the Jazz Obi Toppin, Evan Fournier and a total of five future first-round draft picks for Mitchell (two unprotected and three protected), but Ainge wants more. 

According to Mark Berman of the New York Post, Ainge wants four unprotected future picks instead of the two New York reportedly offered. That’s a big difference. There are also reports that Ainge wants RJ Barrett as part of the deal. 

You might ask yourself if the Knicks would be wise to give up that kind of package for Mitchell. Really, how good can a suddenly asset-starved team led by a small Brunson-Mitchell backcourt be in a loaded Eastern Conference? 

The Knicks reportedly believe Mitchell is good for 10 extra wins, but more than that, Berman reports that “they believe having Brunson and Mitchell would spur another star to join them.”

You see the conundrum. The Knicks think having Mitchell would intrigue another star to join the party, but the assets they would have to send out to get Mitchell would limit their ability to make another major move — especially if Barrett, who represents their most valuable active trade asset, is part of the package. The Knicks are trying to thread a needle here, and Ainge isn’t going to it easy.

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