The New York Knicks have a number of issues to address this offseason, but the club’s underperforming backcourt definitely tops the list. With Kemba Walker’s future lying elsewhere, Alec Burks playing out of position and Immanuel Quickley and Miles McBride still in need of seasoning, team president Leon Rose would do well to find a battle-tested lead guard.
All signs currently point to Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and rising Mavs guard Jalen Brunson being at or near the top of New York’s current wish list. So, when Knicks execs showed up in Dallas recently to watch the two go head-to-head, eyebrows were raised.
In the eyes of fans and members of the hoops media alike, it was clear that the Knicks group — led by executive VP William Wesley — was there to scout the players and, possibly, plant some seeds about potential partnerships.
Whether that’s true or not, one of the teams involved in the contest has taken issue with the Knicks appearing to openly target a player who’s still locked into a long-term contract.
Begley: Jazz Didn’t Appreciate the Knicks Presence
Per a SportsNet New York report, the Jazz — who some feel are on the verge of a major roster shakeup — had some very strong feelings about the Knicks showing up to watch their game and, specifically, Mitchell.
Wrote Ian Begley:
Multiple teams are monitoring the situation in Utah. They wonder if the club will undergo significant roster upheaval if they lose to Dallas.
That’s partially why the presence of Wesley and [Julius] Randle courtside drew the attention of a few opposing teams.
Some prominent members of the Jazz were surprised and upset to see Wesley sitting courtside for the game, per SNY sources.
Entering Game 4 of their first-round series against the Mavs on Saturday, the Jazz find themselves in a 2-1 hole. Mitchell has put up a lot of points so far, averaging 32.7 per outing, but he’s shooting just 41.3% from the field and 25% from three-point range.
Meanwhile, Jazz defenders — including Mitchell — have struggled to contain Brunson at the point of attack. That has left their front in a scramble on nearly every defensive possession and resulted in easy buckets at the tin and wide-open corner threes for the Mavs.
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Utah’s Last Stand?
Although the Jazz have qualified for postseason play six straight times and advanced to the West semis during three of those runs (with 2021-22 still pending), the team has regularly fallen short of its lofty expectations.
Last year, Utah finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA, but found itself unable to beat a Kawhi Leonard-less Clippers team in Round 2. If Mitchell and Co. can’t beat a Dallas squad that was without Luka Doncic for the first three games, the team’s chief decision-maker, Danny Ainge, could look to move his All-Star guard and/or big man Rudy Gobert.
Meanwhile, the Knicks have long been linked to Mitchell, who’s a native of Westchester County. The Heat have also been suggested as a potential landing spot for the Jazz baller.