A number of theories have been offered about how/why the New York Knicks season has played out in the way that it has. And blame is getting doled out to everyone from owner James Dolan on down to players who aren’t even seeing the court right now.
Regardless of the how, why and who’s to blame, one thing has become crystal clear — the Knicks aren’t close to competing for an NBA championship as constituted.
It’s a situation that begs the question, what’s next? How does the team put itself back into the playoff mix in the Eastern Conference? According to Newsday’s Steve Popper, Knicks executive VP and senior basketball advisor William Wesley believes he has the answers.
“Wesley, according to the source, also has been selling his plan to eventually get a star to come to the Knicks,” he wrote.
Apparently, he has a specific star in mind, too.
Popper: World Wide Wes Wants Donovan Mitchell
Per Popper, the player in Wesley’s sights is none other than Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, who was just named an All-Star for the third time.
“According to the same person who pointed to Wesley’s criticism of [Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau], Wesley has been selling his plan, one that eventually will land Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, a New York native,” he reported.
Popper further noted that Mitchell has ties to New York that go beyond where he grew up.
“[Knicks president Leon Rose] served as a former agent for Mitchell and the front office also inserted Johnnie Bryant as associate head coach after Bryant served as an assistant in Utah,” he wrote. Bryant, of course, played a key role in Mitchell’s development before he moved on to become Thibodeau’s right hand.
All of that aside, actually getting the baller to NYC could still be a difficult proposition.
“This is not schmoozing a high school player and steering him to a college of choice, and it’s not so simple even if the relationships are in place. ”
Get all the latest Knicks news, analysis and viral content! Follow the Heavy on Knicks Facebook page!
What Are the Knicks Willing to Part With?
Making a move for Mitchell if he wants out of Utah — which he has denied publicly — would be a no-brainer whether World Wide Wes was pulling for it or not. In 47 games this season, the fifth-year guard is averaging 25.9 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.
However, Mitchell won’t be a free agent until 2025 at the earliest. And getting him via trade would cost New York a lot.
“You can try to construct a package, but it’s hard to imagine one that works without stripping the Knicks of every promising asset they hold right now. If Wesley and Rose can make that work, maybe they can speak openly and take credit,” Popper added.
“Until then, Thibodeau remains the only voice publicly speaking and doing the same things he’s always done.”