In what appears to be part of a monthly reporting cycle both nationally and locally, the New York Knicks are reportedly monitoring the trade market for a superstar to galvanize their roster. One of those stars, as has been the case for well over a year, is Donovan Mitchell.
According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Post, the Knicks continue to monitor three trade targets: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, and Mitchell.
How did this report come about? Why, in a larger article about Evan Fournier of course! The 30-year-old veteran has seen his role with the Knicks dwindle to near non-existent proportions despite his assertion that he can still “f—king play”. Fournier saw his 29.5 minutes per game in 2021-22 slip to 17 minutes per game last season, in no small part due to his shooting plummeting nine percentage points both overall and from three-point territory. Fournier’s $19 million expiring deal could be a valuable trade asset in any transaction, even outside of one for a bonafide star like Embiid, Towns or Mitchell. The Knicks also have a plethora of draft capital and young players that would be enticing to any team.
It is no secret that the Knicks have been lusting after Mitchell for quite some time, failing to pull the trigger last summer when it was clear he was on the market. Naturally, after Mitchell came out to say he was not signing a contract extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers this offseason (though he could next summer), the rumor mill started to churn.
The point that cannot be overlooked is that all of the three aforementioned teams being monitored are looking to win right now. Minnesota is in the best position they have been in since Kevin Garnett was there. Philadelphia is not looking to pull the plug on their season, despite the murky James Harden situation. The Cavaliers are seeking postseason redemption, not to throw in the towel after one season of Mitchell. The Knicks are perceived as the most compelling destination for Mitchell because it is where he grew up, but it is not that simple. A roadblock in New York’s plan is that Mitchell is seemingly happy in Cleveland and believes in what the organization is doing.
“I want it to be known that I still have the opportunity to sign an extension next summer,” Mitchell said at Cavs Media Day. “I don’t think a lot of people understand that aspect. I’m really excited about what we’ve got going here. We could do something special.”
The Cavs’ players have also been working out together before the season, a good sign for camaraderie. “It’s the first time in my career where I’ve worked out with everybody before the season even started,” Mitchell added during his Media Day presser. “We addressed different things we feel we needed to fix... but now we have to go out there and put it together as a group, which I have no doubt we will.”
While Mitchell did not say he would sign a long-term extension with the organization, his commitment to this upcoming season is unwavering. The Cavs made moves to shore up the shooting and the bench unit, both glaring issues last season that played no small part in the team’s first-round exit. While it is not impossible that Mitchell asks out midway through the season, it is increasingly unlikely. If Mitchell were to request a trade, it would likely happen next summer. The tricky part is that Cleveland still has to show Darius Garland and Evan Mobley that they are in it to win right now, so New York’s trove of picks and young players may not be the needle mover they think it is.
But as of now, Mitchell appears excited to be with the Cavs. The Eastern Conference is top-heavy, but Cleveland has the components to be even better than last season - a prospect that more than likely would keep Mitchell with the Cavs for the foreseeable future. The Knicks, like many other teams, will have to continue waiting with the hopes a superstar requests a trade during this upcoming season.