As the end of August draws nearer, the New York Knicks are back in trade talks with the Utah Jazz for Donovan Mitchell. New York’s latest reported offer wasn’t enough for Utah, but with training camp being around the corner, a trade could be on the horizon.
And now that the Kevin Durant trade sweepstakes have ended, with him “agreeing” to move forward with the Brooklyn Nets, the focus is on Donovan Mitchell. Teams such as the Toronto Raptors that were in the race for KD could put their pieces together in a package for Mitchell, or teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers could be looped into a three-team deal with the Knicks and Jazz now that the possibility of getting Kyrie Irving has been crossed off their list.
This is the dull part of the NBA offseason, but it feels like things are about to get exciting. The hope should be that regardless of what happens, New York will benefit.
Based on the latest news surrounding Donovan Mitchell, here are the three latest Knicks-related rumors.
3 latest rumors in Knicks’ pursuit of Donovan Mitchell
3: Knicks are reportedly prioritizing Julius Randle over Obi Toppin
If a deal happens, you can almost certainly bet that Obi Toppin will be included. His name has been floating around in recent trade rumors, while Julius Randle’s has not. New York’s latest offer to Utah included Obi Toppin and Evan Fournier, so clearly the Knicks aren’t worried about letting go of their No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
New York Post’s Marc Berman echoed that belief in his latest piece. He wrote:
That the Knicks reportedly are willing to give up 2020 lottery pick Toppin is a sign of their belief Julius Randle can return closer to 2020-21 form when he was second-team All-NBA. They are hopeful Randle will be in a better space mentally than he was in 2021-22.
New York not being willing to give up on Randle shouldn’t come as a shock, especially when you take into consideration that the four-year, $117 million extension that he signed last offseason is set to kick in during the 2022-23 season.
What will happen if the Knicks include Obi Toppin in a Donovan Mitchell deal?
However, what is surprising is that the Knicks believe that he can “return closer” to the player that he was in 2020-21. Randle is a ball-dominant player, but with RJ Barrett and now Jalen Brunson in the starting lineup, he’s going to need to act as an off-ball player. It’s hard to envision Randle accepting that role, although we could be in for a surprise.
It’s risky to believe that a player who had one great season out of his eight years in the league will be able to bounce back in 2022-23, so much so that you’re willing to give up his potential replacement in Toppin. It’s true that Toppin’s easier to trade since he’s on his rookie contract, but letting go of him could be a move that New York regrets as soon as next season.
In order to trade for a player of Mitchell’s caliber, a team must be willing to give up a good amount (such as a young, exciting player like Toppin), but putting that amount of faith in Randle could result in disappointment.