NBA Executive Says Top Knicks Target Will Leave Once Contract Ends

Donovan Mitchell, New York Knicks

Getty Donovan Mitchell defending Jalen Brunson.

The New York Knicks made impressive trades before the NBA trade deadline, landing OG Anunoby, Alec Burks, and Bojan Bogdanovic. Adding three impact players will help them as they look to build upon their current fourth-place spot in the Eastern Conference. Despite these moves, what was even more impressive was that the Knicks didn’t trade a first-round pick in either of these trades. They have eight tradeable first-round picks to use during the offseason and someone like Donovan Mitchell could be the one they use these picks for.

According to an Eastern Conference executive, Mitchell will be leaving once his contract ends with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Ringer’s Howard Beck reported on what the executive had to say:

“There’s no doubt he’s leaving once his contract ends.”

Mitchell has a player option in the 2025-26 season. The Cavaliers, however, could decide to trade him to get assets in return. They traded Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, Collin Sexton, three unprotected first-round picks, and two pick swaps.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported the Knicks’ interest before the deadline.

“And yet part of the calculus behind paying Utah’s exorbitant price to deal Mitchell was the potential to recoup at least some of the outgoing assets the small-market Cavaliers burned to bring in an All-NBA guard with designs on playing in New York.

“If the Cavaliers were to put Mitchell on the block tomorrow or in February before the trade deadline or next offseason, there would be a long line of suitors, the Knicks surely among them, willing to compete for his services with competitive offers.”

Donovan Mitchell’s Response to Trade Rumors

The trade rumors picked up heading into the deadline, but the Cavaliers went on an incredible stretch, pushing to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. They’ve won nine out of their last 10 and look to have made the right move.

However, the New York Knicks target addressed the rumors but declined to answer anything. Peter Botte of the New York Post reported what Mitchell had to say:

“My job is to focus on this [team],” Mitchell told reporters this week. “We have two guys that are out, so I’m not answering anything. And no disrespect. I appreciate that you have to ask the question, but I’m not going there with any of those questions. My focus is on these guys being out, us trying to find a way to get wins.”

Knicks Long-Term Plan to Land a Star

Pairing Mitchell with Jalen Brunson would make the New York Knicks even better than they currently are. The Knicks would have to trade multiple assets and players to land Mitchell, although that could come back to be the right decision.

Their long-term plan, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic, is to land a star in the offseason.

“The long-term plan remains to add a star to the core that’s already present, but the organization still does not expect that star, whoever he may be, to become available until this summer at the earliest, league sources tell The Athletic.”

Mitchell, 27 years old, is averaging 28.3 points, 6.3 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and is shooting 36.3% from three-point range on 9.2 attempts per game. He’s a star and could give the Knicks the best backcourt in basketball.

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