Donovan Mitchell’s future with the Utah Jazz has been a league-wide focus since it was reported earlier this week that the team was listening to offers for the All-Star guard. In the past few days, the chatter from the jazz and league sources has grown louder. Here are the latest rumours, reports and information:
The interest of the New York Knicks
• According to multiple Tribune sources and as first reported by The Athletic, The Jazz and Knicks had important talks over a Mitchell deal on Tuesday. It was those conversations that sparked ESPN’s report that the Jazz were now hearing offers on Mitchell. So constructive were those talks that some thought a deal could be finalized Tuesday night or Wednesday, but apparently there was no final agreement.
• In these and previous calls, according to one source, jazz demanded a huge, essentially unprecedented, return for Mitchell. The Knicks can trade a maximum of eight first-round picks directly — the Jazz want a majority of those picks. They also asked for pick swaps down the street. Finally, they also asked for a combination of youngsters Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Miles McBride and Cam Reddish. Grimes is perhaps the number one target among these players for Utah.
• RJ Barrett, the third pick of the 2019 NBA draft, was considered more valuable to the Knicks than the Jazz and was therefore not included in the recent conversation, multiple sources told the Tribune.
• The Knicks didn’t want to give up as many of their future picks and young plays, however. However, there was a significant counter-offer from the Knicks that included a smaller number of these pieces.
• In order to close a deal, the Jazz would also need to recoup a larger salary from the Knicks. However, Julius Randle probably wouldn’t be that piece – Evan Fournier or Derrick Rose are more likely, a source said.
• Although no timeline has been set for a deal by either side, most expect a resolution where Jazz and Knicks simply agree to the terms of an offer somewhere between the two current asking prices within hours, days or weeks – whenever either side has reason to give in.
Rumors about Miami Heat
• The Knicks aren’t the only team interested in Mitchell, however. The Miami Heat have taken an interest in both Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell in recent weeks.
• But their stable of young figures and pickaxes just isn’t as attractive as New York’s. The Heat have traded away their 2025 first-round picks, meaning they can only offer their 2023 pick, 2027 pick and 2029 pick along with pick swaps in the other years. The Heat also have a deficit of young players compared to New York. 22-year-old Tyler Herro is a fair bit, but Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Omer Yurtseven are older and have shorter contracts than their main Knicks’ peers.
• The Heat made an offer for Mitchell weeks ago that included almost all of these tracks, but The Jazz found it inadequate. At the time, sources told the Tribune, Jazz and Heat agreed that a third team in the trade might be necessary to bring more value to Jazz – which likely means the Heat would have to send veteran tunes elsewhere to become younger player or pick value in return.
• The Heat did this in hopes of acquiring either Durant or Mitchell. Overall, however, it seems less likely than the New York option.
• At least one voice in Jazz’s front office favors Herro over Barrett’s return, according to a source. Why? Consider their basketball reference predictions for next season:
Essentially, Herro’s likelihood of being a cheap contract going forward and his advanced shot-stopping are grounds for optimism. Barrett is of course taller, younger and has a lot more defensive potential. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer conducted a poll of “over two dozen” front-office executives at the Las Vegas Summer League who said they believe Barrett has “far greater commercial value” than Herro.
• Jokes were written about the party-loving Herro in Utah, but a source with knowledge of Herro’s thinking says he’s more optimistic about the possible marriage — especially one in which he’d play a bigger role than he did in Miami.
The Brooklyn Nets in the game?
• Another possibility considered: Mitchell lands in New York City – but for the Brooklyn Nets and not the Knicks. Under the circumstances, the Nets would sell Kevin Durant to a third team, likely Phoenix, and use the returned capital to acquire Mitchell. Nets owner Joe Tsai is said to want to maintain a competitive roster in Brooklyn despite the Durant trade, and Mitchell would be a logical place to start.
• However, there are major obstacles in the way of the idea. The first is that, per a CBA rule, the Nets cannot simultaneously hold Mitchells and Ben Simmons as rookie extensions since both were acquired commercially. The Nets would have to take Simmons to either the Jazz or another team.
• Second, the Suns would need to pay enough salary to cover Durant’s $44 million contract – and Mikal Bridges’ $20 million isn’t enough. Center DeAndre Ayton, who could have been useful as both a payload and a return, just signed an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers for a maximum extension. The Suns, if matched, could not trade Ayton without his permission for a year.
• Several other teams inquired about Mitchell’s availability for the Gobert deal, but The Jazz found that many of those offers were not particularly close to their asking price.
• Overall, the Jazz enter talks with the aim of preserving as many future assets in both player and pick form as possible. They do this without caring about their overall wins in the 2022-23 season: just like the Gobert trade, they prioritize future picks over win-now players.
Editor’s Note • This story is available only to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers. Thank you for supporting local journalism.