Donovan Mitchell’s Next Coach Could Come From Knicks

Donovan Mitchell against Knicks

Getty Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives the ball to the basket while being defended by Mitchell Robinson #23 of the New York Knicks.

The New York Knicks are in danger of losing Tom Thibodeau’s top lieutenant to join their past star trade target Donovan Mitchell in Cleveland.

Knicks associate head coach Johnnie Bryant is among the group of assistant coaches the Cleveland Cavaliers would consider to replace J.B. Bickerstaff, SNY’s Ian Begley reported on Friday night, May 24.

“The Knicks would need to grant the Cavs permission to interview Bryant,” Begley added.

Bryant has one significant advantage in his head coaching candidacy — his strong bond with Mitchell, who must decide on his long-term future in Cleveland this summer.

Mitchell and Bryant go a long way back.

Bryant began his NBA coaching career in 2012 with the Jazz as a player development coach. He took Mitchell under his wing since the five-time NBA All-Star guard’s rookie season until he left for New York.

Bryant’s player development training was credited to Gordon Hayward and then Mitchell’s rise as top options in Utah.

When Bryant left Utah and took the Knicks’ associate head coaching job, Mitchell was one of the first people who publicly congratulated him.

Bryant was also considered for the Jazz head coaching job that eventually went to Will Hardy. Shortly after Hardy was hired, Mitchell was traded to the Cavaliers after the Knicks and the Jazz could not agree on the trade package.

When the Knicks attempted to trade for Mitchell in 2022, Bryant was one of the reasons Mitchell wanted New York aside from the opportunity to be home and play for his hometown team.

Both Mitchell and Bryant are represented by Creative Artists Agency.

Knicks No Longer Desperate to Pursue Donovan Mitchell

Unlike in 2022, the Knicks are no longer desperate to pursue Mitchell owing to Jalen Brunson‘s rise as an MVP-caliber player.

“Back then, the Knicks were a 37-win team looking for a first star. If the fit was not clean with Brunson, they would figure it out later. The objective was to bring talent in the door.

That’s not the case today,” Fred Katz of The Athletic wrote on May 19.

The Cavaliers are intent on keeping Mitchell and the report of Bryant being among the coaching candidates could be part of their plan to persuade the All-Star guard to extend this summer.

“The Knicks will search for the next great player, but they also will hope not to disrupt the culture that helped most of their roster to career years and encouraged the players to keep swinging, even as if they couldn’t feel their arms,” Katz added.

A Brunson-Mitchell backcourt will be undersized and they both need the ball in their hands to be at their best.

Julius Randle Will Only Be Traded for a Star

Julius Randle‘s long-term future in New York comes to focus this summer as he is eligible to sign as much as a four-year, $181.5 million extension on August 3.

The Knicks reached the postseason as the No. 2 seed even after Randle went down with a dislocated shoulder injury on January 27.

According to Katz, the Knicks are not shopping Randle. But he is also not untouchable.

“The Knicks are not trying to trade Randle, but they recognize that their quest for a star could require having to do so. If a suitable target does not pop up this summer, then they could turn their eyes to the 2025 trade deadline, hoping to land one then,” Katz wrote on May 24.