The New York Knicks play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 30 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
This will be the first head-to-head matchup against star player Donovan Mitchell, who was traded by the Utah Jazz to the Cavaliers in exchange for Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, three unprotected first-round picks, and two pick swaps.
A storyline around the 2022 NBA offseason was the Knicks being the most favored out of the other 28 teams to grab Mitchell from the Jazz due to the organization having intriguing assets of young players and future draft picks. When the trade was finalized, the Knicks organization and its fanbase were shocked due to the likelihood of Mitchell coming to Madison Square Garden seemed high.
RJ Barrett signed a four-year $120 million extension to remain in New York. Barrett became the first Knick since Charlie Ward to receive a contract extension after being drafted in the first round, breaking the infamous curse.
It was mentioned that Barrett was involved in trade talks over the summer in order to get Mitchell. Zach Braziller of the New York Post reported that Barrett was included in one of the final offers by team president Leon Rose.
Danny Ainge and the Jazz front office ultimately traded the three-time All-Star to a Cavaliers team that features other All-Star players in Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen and promising young talent with players such as Evan Mobley.
The Knicks got to keep their draft capital and young players, which included Barrett, who averaged 20 points per game last season.
Barrett Annoyed With Mitchell Trade Topic
Following the Knicks’ loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Oct. 28, Barrett was asked by the media during postgame comments on his thoughts going up against Mitchell for the first time this season, especially after having his name involved in trade talks.
“Who cares? I’m here,” Barrett said. “I’m here. He’s there. We just have to go in there and try to get a win.”
Barrett’s response gives the impression that he’s displeased when asked about Mitchell and the trade situation. It hasn’t been a strong start to the regular season for the Canadian forward, averaging 18.2 points and only shooting 37.8 percent from the field and a low 14.2 percent from three-point range through five games.
This isn’t the first time Barrett has started off slow shooting the basketball. Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t worried as he’s seen this all before and believes the perimeter shot will fall for Barrett once he comes back at night after games to put up 3-pointers when talking to the media in postgame comments following a defeat to the Bucks.
Mitchell Thought He Was a Knick
On Oct. 21, Mitchell appeared on “The Old Man and the Three” podcast, hosted by former NBA player JJ Redick and Tommy Alter.
The 26-year-old stated he thought he would be a Knick and that an official deal was close. “On Sept. 1, I went to sleep like, ‘I’m on the Knicks. I’m going to New York,’ Mitchell said.
Unfortunately for the Knicks, that didn’t happen, and now must see Mitchell play in the same conference.
Mitchell is having a terrific start to the season, averaging 31 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists through five games. He is shooting over 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range.
In a game against the Celtics on Oct.28, Mitchell scored 41 points in an overtime victory.