After months of “will they, won’t they” speculation, an answer has finally come for New York Knicks fans: Donovan Mitchell will not be donning orange and blue threads in 2022-23.
Though the Knicks were viewed as the odds-on favorite to acquire Mitchell from the Utah Jazz, it was the Cleveland Cavaliers that won the Mitchell sweepstakes, according to a September 1 report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Some Knicks fans saw the team not getting Mitchell as a positive. However, to many fans, losing out on the three-time All-Star was an utter disappointment.
One fan tweeted out a clip from Amazon Prime’s “The Boys” featuring the character Homelander in an exasperated “uh oh” moment, captioning it: “Knicks front office rn.”
Another fan tweeted out a clip of a New York Mets player swinging at a pitch and missing (by a lot), captioning it: “The Knicks trying to land star players.”
And another fan tweeted a clip of “Breaking Bad” antihero Walter White screaming in anger or agony (or both), captioning it: “Knicks fans right now.”
Pundits Sound Off on the Knicks, Too
Minutes after Wojnarowski broke the news of the blockbuster trade, CBS Sports NBA reporter Sam Quinn took to Twitter to share his feelings on the situation, claiming it to be a “massive failure” for the Knicks.
“I thought it was really important for the Knicks to get Donovan Mitchell here and now because in the not-too-distant future, they’re gonna be bidding on stars in the trade market with Oklahoma City and Houston, who have way more to offer. This is a massive failure on their part,” Quinn wrote.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith had some choice words for New York from what appears to be his car.
“Every single time, man, something goes wrong,” Smith says in a video he tweeted. “Once again we’re going to go into another season, and the New York Knicks are devoid of a star. … They make me sick. Nothing ever gets done in New York with the Knicks. Nothing! Nothing. … It just never ends with the Knicks.”
Some pundits were more forgiving, including Frank Isola, who used to cover the Knicks for the New York Daily News. Isola tweeted the Knicks were “better off” for not making the trade.
Utah Wanted Major Haul From Knicks
Here’s the trade’s breakdown:
Cleveland Cavaliers receive:
- Donovan Mitchell
Utah Jazz receive:
- Collin Sexton
- Lauri Markkanen
- Ochai Agbaji
- Three unprotected first-round picks
- Two pick-swaps
The Jazz’s return from the Cavaliers was huge, and what they wanted from the Knicks was considered a bit “wild.” Utah general manager Danny Ainge was looking for something in the ballpark of seven first-round picks along with several young players from the Knicks, according to a July 20 article by Bleacher Report’s Tim Daniels
Eventually, the Jazz’s price fell to four first-round picks, reported The New York Post’s Marc Berman on August 22.
At one point it was also believed that the Jazz wanted young star RJ Barrett too. But to many, he was essentially taken off the table by Knicks President Leon Rose when Barrett signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension on August 29.
Knicks Have Other Possible Options
There are other avenues the franchise could take should they still wish to make a trade.
One alternative option would be trading for Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, who, an anonymous Eastern Conference executive told Heavy, has been a “Plan B” option for many other teams across the league as well.
“I think a lot of teams have considered Gordon Hayward a Plan B if they can’t get Mitchell or Durant. The Hornets have taken calls on him but they’re still figuring out what to do about him, about the Miles Bridges stuff, what direction they’re taking,” the executive told Heavy.
“He’d be good with what the Knicks have, with Brunson and R.J. Barrett, a bigger guy who can be a ballhandler. If he can stay healthy. That’s the only reason the Hornets would consider moving him, to get off that contract (two years remaining, $62 million) for a guy who has not been healthy.”
Outside of Hayward, The Athletic’s Fred Katz has also tabbed Portland Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant as a “short-term rental” the franchise could consider.